Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails Loop

hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(824)
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.

Length 9.0 mi Elevation gain 2,372 ft Route type Loop

Dogs on leash

Hiking

Nature trips

Forest

River

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

Scramble

Description
Waypoints (13)
Contact
Tips
Getting There

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 etc 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.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (824)
Photos (1633)
Recordings (528)
Completed (1887)
Darryn Neujahr
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking

The good. Beautiful scenery, lots of water, shaded with cool temps and well marked trail. The bad. $30 fee per car and very, very crowded. I would only do this hike on a weekday. If you have a dog and he likes to pull on the leash (required), you will not enjoy the hike since there are lots of steep inclines and steps.

View Darryn's Recording
Evangelina Pena
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2020
HikingGreat!
Brad Sawyer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 31, 2020
Hiking

We did not heed TLC’s advice on this trail. Chasing waterfalls was, in fact, the most phenomenal aspect of this trail. There were many throughout the whole loop. We did the loop in a clockwise manner. By going this way, we immediately started with a stretch of incline that was so tough, no amount of time on a stair master could fully prepare you for it. After our glutes were toned, we reached crescent rock. This was an overlook that provided a view of a rock that looked like a crescent. After the overlook, it was all downhill. The popular waterfalls are on the back half of the loop if you go clockwise, and we stopped and swam in the final waterfall before we hit the parking lot. This was an incredibly rad swimming hole, that offered spots for cliff jumping and even some friendly fish. I’d enthusiastically recommend this entire loop to any above average hiker, but I would NOT recommend bringing a stroller!

Liv Biggers
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 30, 2020
HikingBugs

I adored this hike. I did this about a year ago and it was wonderful. we did take a wrong turn, so our hike ended up being around 13 miles long... but it was still worth it. I wish I'd brought something to swim in because the small pools looked SO inviting. i would definitely recommend this for an all-day hike.

Lavender Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 28, 2020
HikingMuddyRocky

Amazing trail! The first trail that me and a couple of friends decided to hike together. I am going to be 100% honest, we did the more strenuous part of the trail and it was rough. All of us are what I would consider to be novice hikers and we were pretty tired by the end. With that being said, the trail would be amazing for more experienced hikers. We loved the views and stopped at a few different swimming holes to hop in. Overall lots of fun, but would need to do a little bit more training before we did it again. :)

Peter Uhlir
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2020
Hiking

This is a great hike. I left my car at about 10:30 which was a little late for getting there, so I had to pay $10 for overflow parking. The things I saw on this trail were: 1: waterfalls galore 2: Amazing swimming holes 3. one pretty good vista 4. Natural waterfall rock slides 5. A high foot first diving point 6. 3 bears on the yellow trail Trail notes: 1. White Oak canyon has its steep points, but it's not overly overwhelming. It reminds me of a relenting "Chimney Top" trail on the North Fork Mountain trail. Very steep in spots, but unlike Chimney Top it lets up. 2. Go early if you want the closer highlights to yourself. The larger falls on the Whiteoak canyon trail were filled with lots of people. 3. Higher up on the trail, there are much fewer people. At one of the biggest waterfalls I was there with two other people. 4. Obey the warning sign at the halfway point. If you are gassed by then, turn back. While this hike was fairly easy for me because I've been hiking a lot all through CoVid- I can see this being very hard for other people. 5. There is a really nice place to take a rest and dip your legs in right where the White Oak Canyon trail meets the Yellow trail. Take a break here, because unless you would like to take a break at the Cedar Run trailhead, it's a fair distance before you get another break opportunity. 6. The 3 bears I saw were on the yellow trail, and I'm pretty sure the first one came out to sniff the trail of a group that had just walked by. i dont know how they didnt see him. He ran when he saw me. The other two were off the trail.. one in the bushes and the other in a tree. 7. The Cedar Run trail going down is REALLY rocky for the first mile, and awkward. I am glad I hiked the loop the way I did. The amount of oversized steps that were on this portion would have made going up really strenuous. 8. There is a pretty good place to dip your legs on the right side of the trail about a mile and some change down Cedar Run trail. 9. DO THE SLIDES. They are safe and put you in deep water. I saw so many people having a great time! There are two, with the second one being noticeably longer. 10. There is God's gift to swimming holes about 250 yards down the trail from the first slide. 11. The swimming hole at the srcond slide is very deep- so much so kids were jumping off the hillside into the pool, about a 20 foot drop. Just make sure that you know where that is before attempting it. 12. None of the stream crossings on this hike were hard, but it's been pretty dry recently. 13. I was warned to watch out for rattlesnakes on the rocks due to a little rain the previous night. I didnt see any, but its something to keep in mind around the creek. 14. Bring lots of water. I brought the most I've ever taken on a hike because of the heat- 5 16.5 oz water bottles. I could have really used one more. I eventually used an empty bottle and dipped it in the creek to empty it on my head. 15. This hike I only recorded 3 hours and 18 minutes of moving time. Going up Whiteoak canyon trail I averaged about 21:30/mile. I was faster on the yellow trail, pushing close to 20:00/mile. Going the first mile and a half down Cedar run was the slowest, about 24:30/mile. 16. I did spend a lot of time at some of the nicer, empty spots. Some of them however, had so many people (like the second slide which easily had over 100) that I just watched from the trail for a minute and moved on. This is a wonderful hike to do if you know you have the stamina for it. However, if you havent hiked a 9 mile hike before, or havent done elevation gain over 2000 feet, you should work on building your hiking legs before attempting or you may not enjoy yourself.

Evangelina Pena
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2020
Hiking

Incredible trail with amazing waterfalls with swimming holes, views, and hard elevation. A must - but definitely difficult.

View Evangelina's Recording
Solveig Gronau
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 26, 2020
HikingRocky

I felt like this trail was significantly more strenuous than old rag mountain. I started at 8 AM at Hawksbill Gap Parking and my car was one of the only ones in the parking lot there (on a Sunday). That meant that I started on the descent down Cedar Run Trail and then went back up on Whiteoak Canyon Trail. The first third of the trail is fairly boring but once you hit the waterfalls, it’s very nice. Also, putting my feet into the cold water in between climbs was just amazing! Overall, it took me about 5.5 hours.

Bobby Miller
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 26, 2020
Hiking

Was a lot of fun, TONS of people, we only went up to the water slide on Cedar Run, my my 5 & 7 year olds are ready to go back! I did forget to stop it on the way out, so ignore the obvious road travel at the end

View Bobby's Recording
L A
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 26, 2020
Hiking

Steep and challenging hike with many beautiful waterfalls. Surprisingly crowded quite early on a summer weekend.

Bhavin Makasana
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2020
HikingFeeRocky
View Bhavin's Recording
Jackson Sirbaugh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 19, 2020
Hiking

Fantastic hike! We did the whole 9 mile loop and went counterclockwise. The first half was a straight incline with great waterfalls all along the way to view. Once we hit the Skyline Drive lot, then it was all downhill where we stopped and had some fun with the slide and many swimming holes. Be prepared for a full and long day, crowded with lots of families on good weather day, parking in overflow if you don’t get there super early ($10 for parking and also fee for Shenandoah National Park), and bring lots of water!!!

View Jackson's Recording
Mariah C.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 19, 2020
Hiking

Hiked this today and it was the perfect day for it. Make sure to start early! I arrived at 7:30am and the parking lot was almost full. When I hiked out 5 and half hours later it was overflowing, with people literally parking wherever they felt like it. If you hike White Oak Canyon first, it’s definitely strenuous. I went at a slower pace to stop and take pictures. When you get to where the horse trail is, I thought it was a little tricky to see. You have to cross the stream. If you get to the bridge, you passed it. I really enjoyed the horse trail (which is still ascending). It was nice and peaceful. Coming down Cedar run was very rocky, so just be cautious of where you’re stepping. Trekking poles really helped me on this entire hike. The closer you to get to the swimming holes, the more people there are.

Elizabeth Kelley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 19, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful hike with several swimming holes and good shade. Perfect for a hot day.

Ashlyn Knott
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 18, 2020
HikingRocky

Went counterclockwise (at the first Y ,went Right) and got the strenuous part out the way first. Took about 4.5 hrs with multiple breaks especially uphill. Rocky coming down from cedar, watch footing due to some rocks are loose. Most people went left and just went to a few falls with Rock slides that were close by. Multiple waterfalls along the way. Multiple kids, very little went past the falls on both sides. The few we did see seemed to be doing fine. Get there early, limited parking. bring plenty of water. most of the trail is shady.

Daniel B.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 18, 2020
Hiking

I've done this trail in the past and the two waterslides are great! Question for recent hikers: Are the private residents sill letting folks park on their property for a fee during COVID?

Jackie Menke
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 17, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky
View Jackie's Recording
Nik Gherardini
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 15, 2020
HikingRocky

Fun trail but strenuous! I ended up pairing it the Lower Hawksbill Trail and it worked pretty nicely. Falls and streams are great! I would recommend some decent hiking shoes/boots.

Bethany Zoll
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 13, 2020
HikingRockyScramble

The swimming and waterfalls were amazing but we were a bit out of our league. The trail actually took us (me, my husband and two boys 10 & 13) nine hours to complete with many stops. Bring lots of water! After hiking up White Oak Canyon, coming back across the horse trail and down Cedar Run weren’t quiet as exciting but we were ready to be done by that point. We haven’t hiked any of the other trails in this area so can’t speak to how it compares to others.

View Bethany's Recording
Sarah Rushing
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 10, 2020
Hiking

It's easy to see why this is a popular trail, with flowing water and swimming hole access all along the loop. I hiked counterclockwise from the lower parking lot (on VA 643) - that's definitely the way to go (gets the climb out of the way at the beginning). Don't be like me and take a wrong turn about 3 miles in (LEFT after the river crossing, onto the fire road with yellow blazes). Even still the loop was less than 10 miles and doable in 4.5 hours. Download the AllTrails map, and/or carry a paper map with you so that you know the route/options. The directions in AllTrails lead you to the lower parking area. If you're looking for somewhere to stay overnight, I'd highly recommend the Graves Mountain Farm and Lodge, just 5 miles down the road (camping, cabins, and hotel rooms).

Steve A.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 9, 2020
Hiking

LOWER white oak canyon and cedar run

View Steve's Recording
John Seigle
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 8, 2020
Hiking

Amazing. Park at Skyline drive Cedar pulloff and went down White Oak the across the cut at the bottom and up Cedar. About 4.5 hours moving time and 6 hours total loop. A couple swims in both creeks. Minimal other hikers except people in the swimming holes. Definitely do this if in the area (the loop and the swims). Lots of water in this heat.

Rob Krumwiede
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 6, 2020

Awesome trail with so many great waterfalls throughout the entire hike! Did this Counter-clockwise starting up White oak canyon which is a somewhat steep climb until you cross the first stream over to the fireroad where it's pretty easy going until branching unto Cedar Run near Skyline drive where the descent begins and eventually becomes pretty rocky, but nothing too crazy. I would definitely recommend hitting this hike.

Gabrielle Pennington
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 5, 2020
HikingBugsRocky

My friend and I did this hike as part of a day trip involving Hawksbill Summit and the two canyons. We started by ascending to the summit and then came around to Whiteoak Canyon, continued on through to Cedar Run Canyon, and then took the fire road back up to our car. I can honestly say that never in my life have I felt so physically exhausted. We did not plan as well as we should have for this trail and it showed after about 6 miles or so. Trekking poles are a must due to the rocky trails. Bring more water than you think you need (we each drank roughly 4 liters during our hike) or bring some type of water purification system. It was a beautiful trail. The scenery was gorgeous and the falls were spectacular. But because of that, the trail was swarming with people in some parts, particularly down near the falls. Overall I'd say it was a great trip. It's our fault for not planning well enough. That being said, please be careful on a trip like this. Take breaks whenever needed, bring enough water and food, and don't push yourself further than you can handle.

Austin Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 4, 2020
Hiking

Difficult loop but very pretty, great weather. Starting before 8 am is a must for decent parking.

View Austin's Recording
Showing results 1 - 25 of 824