White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails Loop

hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1179)
Shenandoah National Park

White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails Loop is a 9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Syria, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length9.0 miElevation gain2,372 ftRoute typeLoop
Dogs on leashHikingNature tripsForestRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeRockyScrambleFee
Description
Waypoints (13)
Contact
Tips
Getting There

Shenandoah National Park charges a fee to enter. Fees are $35 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle. If you are entering on foot, horse, or bike the fee is $15 per person. You can also purchase a park specific annual pass for $55. The 1st section of the trail takes you to the right along about 30 big and small waterfalls! This is the strenuous section of the trip. There is a great rock wall for climbers on this section approximately 1-1.5 miles from the trailhead (road 643) parking lot (weakly hollow road) which also makes a great place for lunch. The yellow trail, marked by yellow markers, is the 2nd part of the loop, you will go over a steel bridge crossing the river where there is a fork. The yellow trail is to the LEFT, and the blue trail on the right goes 3 miles to skyline drive (which is not part of this loop). The yellow trail is a horse trail, but still climbs to approximately ~3200 feet gradually. There are no stair steps here, and you still may need to stop and catch your breath. You will encounter the next intersection which you should follow to the left (still yellow blazes). This leg of the loop ends at the skyline drive parking lot which can be your other entry point for this trail. At this intersection (4 way) you will take the blue blazed trail which returns in the direction that you came. The 3rd and final part of the trail is blue marked and starts from the skyline drive parking lot intersection. This leg has a very notable waterfall called "the slide" because it is a sheer gradually sloped face with lots of waterflow over it, kind of like a slide. Having reached the peak of the hike in the 2nd leg end, this leg of the hike is downhill all the way. BEWARE that there are 3 river crossings, and this can be dangerous because they are on logs if you don't want to get wet. You can safely scoot along on the logs and make all the crossing. The final crossing will have red blazes on the trees marking all the crossing (approximately 4 log crossings). Be careful as the rocks may be slippery and can result in serious injury. This hike can be considered more strenuous than old rag mountain which is right next door. If you are taking tons of pictures of the falls, swimming, or taking an extra long lunch, then you should plan on 6-7 hours for this hike. The trail has groups come through heading to big meadows and can be busy at times, so start early. Larger wildlife may be present, especially on days with fog.

National Park Service - Park Emergency 1.800.732.0911

Bring 3-4 bottles of water or gatoraid, a good lunch with sodium (salt). A hiking stick or pole is a must for this one. Recommend the road 643 parking lot (weakly hollow road) as parking will be more available than on skyline drive. Recommend you start early, 7 am is good. For those with ankle / knee issues this hike may take you all day as 2/3 of it is stair stepping on rocks / loose rocks so know your own limits and beware. This hike is more strenuous than old rag hike.

Pick up route 231 just south of Sperryville, headed south. At Etlan turn right on Rte 643 and about 4.5 miles down 643 turn right on Rte 600. 4.7 miles up Rte 600 is the parking lot on the left.

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Reviews (1,197)
Photos (3,036)
Activities (928)
Completed (2,939)
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Tracy Reed
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 18, 2021
HikingGreat!

I’m not a fan of elevation so I knew this hike would be a little challenging before I even started. Half way through the counterclockwise hike I was singing a pretty song and enjoying the gorgeous waterfalls. That all changed on the horse path. The slow, gradual elevation got to me. My nutrition wasn’t on point either so that didn’t help. Plus, the horse path was pretty boring so all I had to think about was the elevation and how tired and bored I was! Haha But, once we finished that, it was back to more gorgeous waterfalls and a downhill path. Some people in my group weren’t a fan of the downhills because of knee issues and the back half of this trail is a challenge for those people. In all, we had three water crossings (don’t take the horse crossing over the water in the one part...walk a couple hundred yards further and take the bridge) and about 40 “jump over the water” crossings. I suspect it’s a lot more wet on the trail after a good rain, making them a little less “jump over” and maybe more “walk through.” Definitely had some sore muscles when I got home but it was one of the more strenuous yet most rewarding hikes I’ve done in years.

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Monika J.
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HikingMuddyRocky

Beautiful trail along the rivers and waterfalls! A bit strenuous at times when we had to cross the rivers, but definitely awesome experience! Beware that you don’t get any mountain views, but the waterfalls are definitely worth the hike!!!

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Balbina Penaloza
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Hiking

Wonderful all around. This trail had it all. Definitely recommend if you haven’t done it already.

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D.W. Penn
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BackpackingRocky
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Sarah Repko
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HikingGreat!MuddyRocky
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Brianna Lansing
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HikingGreat!
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Emily Grantham
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HikingGreat!Rocky

Beautiful water all along the way down. Lots of families at the bottom, so expect crowds if it's warm out. The more challenging parts of the trail were pretty quiet though. This was the first "hard" hike I've ever done, and I found it challenging but achievable. It snowed on our way back up so safe to say we didn't dip in the water, but will definitely be coming back this summer with a swimsuit!

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John Habermeyer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 6, 2021
Hiking

This hike has many beautiful waterfalls, cascades, and pools. One after another. It is a pretty tough hike, with a lot of uphill and downhill

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Ashley Bond
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Hiking

Great on the way up. Tough on the knees and feet on the way back down. Walked counterclockwise.

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Ola Smart
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Hiking

Very difficult

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Michelle Wu
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HikingGreat!RockyScramble

We went counterclockwise. Would recommend starting earlier in the day. It was a tough but rewarding hike. The scenery was stunning. Be prepared to cross some water multiple times. We did the whole loop in 5.5 hours. Definitely a difficult hike so wear hiking shoes with ankle support.

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Michael Kloeti
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 1, 2021
Hiking

Great hike Lots of waterfalls I would recommend to go counter clockwise so you will face the waterfalls as you hike by Anyway you will enjoy it Love you all Happy trails

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Jen Slavick
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HikingRocky

Both sides of this trail are beautiful. Completely recommend the counterclockwise route. It’s beautiful looking up at the falls.

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Manuel Brett
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Hiking
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Kelsey Suter
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Hiking

This was a challenging hike, but really fun. Quite a bit of elevation for Shenandoah, with some fun rock scrambles and a few river crossings. The canyon itself is very pretty. Took us about 5 hours with breaks.

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Alexander Lenski
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BackpackingMuddyRocky

Wicked rainy but beautiful temperatures, slick and dangerous if you're not careful. Gorgeous falls the entire way. Our dog Bubblegum did her absolute best on this 9 mile loop and we took many breaks It's very level at the top neat Skyline dr and toward the bottom mile. Is probably a grand hike on a sunny day.

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Michael Lewis
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A little longer than 9 miles. Gorgeous

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Katie Sterbenz
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Hiking

Great hike, a little crowed at the falls but that was expected since it was such a nice weekend. Paid $10 for overflow parking, cash only!

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Luis Tejerina
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Hiking
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Matt PIh
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Hiking
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Val.lo2011 L
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 27, 2021
HikingGreat!

Awesome trail and the weather was gorgeous. The trail is very clear with blue blazes. Waterfalls were beautiful

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Gregory Lynn
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 25, 2021
HikingBugsFeeGreat!MuddyOff trailRockyScrambleWashed out

White Oak Canyon was our favorite hike in all of Shenandoah, even beats Old Rag. So many waterfalls and fun little rock scrambles, decently blazed. Cedar Trail was in need of some maintenance, requires several river crossings and was a bit more dangerous on some slippery rock faces cut into the mountain. We continued all the way up to Hawksbill and back (11ish mi). I'd probably recommend just doing the White Oak Canyon side until trail maintenance is done on the Cedar side.

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