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White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails

HARD 219 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.

2 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

We followed the description and it was 98% on point but if you pay attention and read the signs you'll be fine. The only part that wasn't correct was the final leg where it talks about 3 river crossings, I don't recall three or the log scoot part. We didn't see any red trail markings either but we followed trail marker that said parking lot, about .06 miles and found our way back just fine. The hike according to my Fitbit was more like 10.5 miles total...it was difficult so be prepared. Great challenging trail if you're looking for that. Nice waterfalls! Also saw 3 black bears (2 cubs for sure) towards the end of the 2nd leg. Which was pretty amazing ❤️

hiking
16 days ago

hiking
16 days ago

We started out by going up Cedar Run & down White Oak Canyon. I would say it’s a MUCH better hike if you go UP White Oak Canyon & DOWN Cedar Run... but I recon it’s based on preference. We loved the lower falls on both sides of the trails....past that, it wasn’t much to see & we could have forgone the entire circuit. We simply did the circuit to just say “WE DID IT” since it’s the 2nd toughest in the park. Next time, we shall just hike to the lower falls & RELAX for the day!

25 days ago

I completed the loop in just over 4 hours. If you're only doing one, definitely do the Whiteoaks Canyon trail (go counterclockwise) - it's much more scenic and the waterfalls are gorgeous.

hiking
27 days ago

This was fun. You hike to the top and go down the natural water slide. My kids had a blast. It is HARD! If you have knee issues or are out of shape be cautious. It follows the river and you can relax on a rock and enjoy nature.

hiking
27 days ago

hiking
27 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

Definitely recommend doing it counterclockwise. I don't believe the "hard" rating is accurate. I finished it in approximately 5 hours. Loads of hikers but a pleasant trek. Rock scramble was small. Waterfalls and pools were beautiful.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome trail. Allot loose rocks so wear good boots. Very steep in some areas but we'll worth it for the views and many waterfalls. Saw a very large black bear in parking area . So be bear aware in area.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Great Hike ! Beautiful waterfalls, refreshing water holes that really helped us cool off. This trail is definitely strenuous. And not for the faint of heart. I think it's rating of hard is correct with the elevation and length., unless you are an advanced hiker. It took us 5 1/2 hours . We did stop at the water holes and to have lunch. We didn't encounter many other hikes until the end of the trail . We all saw a young black bear. Would definitely do it again.