White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails

HARD 198 reviews
#1 of 8 trails in

White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails is a 8.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Syria, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
8.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2539 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

If you like water this is a great hike. If you want a great view at the top, pick another trail. You can go clockwise or the reverse. The Whiteoak Canyon trail is a much better trail so if you prefer coming down on the best footing trail, go clockwise. That is go up Cedar Run. If you do this just remember to look back a lot while coming down the White Oak Trail because it has most of the waterfalls. Cedar Run has some beautiful emerald green pools. Both trails stay very close to the streams. The connection at the top is partly by fire road and partly by a trail that parallels the scenic highway on top of the range. If you come up Cedar Run the trail will go off to the right just before a parking lot. It will take you to the fire road where you turn right. At the end of the fire road you will be at White Oak Canyon. There is a trail that heads up on the South side but you want to cross over the foot bridge and then head down along the stream on the north side. There are two parking lots that intersect this trail, one on skyline drive south of big meadows, and one that needs to be accessed off road 643 in the lowlands. You will come to an intersection starting at the off-skyline 643 parking lot, suggest you go right and run the loop counterclockwise. The trail markers are blue on the trees, then theres a short yellow section, then blue again for the return. make sure you double check your GPS at the intersections to stay on the right trail. The 1st section of trail takes you to the right along about 30 big and small waterfalls! WATERFALLS galore! 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. A short way past the falls section you will encounter a map on the trail and you can decide if you want to turn back and call it quits for the day. If you would like to continue on the loop for a total of 8 miles, you can take the yellow trail section. The yellow trail is the 2nd leg 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. No views here, and no waterfalls here. 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 leg 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 stair stepping 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. The rest of the way after the last crossing is a mostly rockless path back to the starting (road 643) parking lot (weakly hollow road). 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 etc and can be busy at times... so start early. Larger wildlife may be present, especially on days with fog.

hiking
1 day ago

5 days ago

I'd hike the White Oak side only, but that loop is a challenge if you do want to experience the whole thing. Well marked trail, a lot of stopping points, you may need them! :)

hiking
9 days ago

Great trail! Went on a Thursday and not crowded at all. Believe the reviews, it is HARD! Definitely recommend going counter-clockwise, both views and footing are better. Did this with my dog, and he stopped at every swimming spot, stopped for lunch and we finished in 5 hours.

hiking
11 days ago

backpacking
11 days ago

Made a loop with these trails and the AT, salamander, and lower hawksbill trails. Be sure to park in the upper white oak lot to avoid paying $10 a person. Awesome waterfalls and an amazing view. Depending on which way you go cedar run to hawksbill peak is a brutal incline but well worth it. Plenty of camping on the AT. The whole loop we did was about 16 miles. Also lots of water along the way and one unprotected spring on the AT. If you plan to camp close to the summit be sure to fill up on cedar run or white oak first.

hiking
14 days ago

We are 60 yrs old and hike a lot. Started 0730 at the Weekly Hallow parking lot doing White Oak trail side of loop first. Beautiful hike and falls! Saw a Rattlesnake in yellow phase curled on narrow trail so watch where you put your feet! It was unfazed by us so we just stepped aside of it. By the time we started down Cedar Run we met people also hiking and playing in the water. They were all ages ( one was 75) so don't be deterred by scary reviews. Find your pace, know your limits, wear proper foot wear and take water. Several negatives are, people pitching tents in middle of trail, people leaving trash and clothing behind and aggressive dogs off leash.

14 days ago

17 days ago

The amount of waterfalls and cascades was awesome! Great hike.

20 days ago

hiking
21 days ago

Great hike, we parked at the top and hiked White Oak Canyon first. The Cedar Run way is steeper but shorter (3.6 miles) while White Oak Canyon is longer but not as steep. Pick which way works best for you - it is a strenuous loop. The waterfalls are great, especially on the White Oak Canyon side. There are dozens of great swimming areas and a few slides.

hiking
25 days ago

More strenuous than we expected. Saw a copperhead. Started down Cedar Run then up White Oak. Would just do White Oak from Limberlost trailhead as an out and back to enjoy all the waterfalls next time and remember a swimsuit and towel. Although there is a beautiful pool with a natural water slide on Cedar Run you would mis

26 days ago

hiking
26 days ago

Really enjoyed this hike. Good views, couple of pools where you can cool down. Overall great hike.

26 days ago

27 days ago

28 days ago

28 days ago

on 6/22/15 this hike was amazing I would hike it again in a heartbeat !

hiking
29 days ago

hiking
30 days ago

There is a nice overlook at the end of the White Oak Canyon Trail, but that can be accessed by car as well. The hiking is nice, but the views aren't great except for a few waterfalls. We parked by Weakley Hollow Dr and went up White Oak Canyon and down Cedar Runs. The uphill wasn't bad at all, but the downhill on Cedar Runs was extremely rocky and definitely the more difficult part of the hike. Not a bad hike, but I'd much prefer Old Rag, which was also a more difficult hike.