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White Oak Canyon Trail is a 9.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Syria, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 9.5 mi Elevation gain 2,408 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

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Getting There

White Oak Canyon Trail is a great hike where you can splash around in lots of waterfalls. The trail is well maintained and has a few markings to keep you on track. The path is narrow, with lots of rocks and fallen leaves. As a result, it is a bit slippery, so you should wear hiking boots or shoes with good traction. There are upper and lower parking lots and a $20 fee to park. Arrive early as this is a popular hike. The parking lot on Skyline Drive fills up fast. You can also use the White Oak Canyon parking area, which is accessed from outside of the Shenandoah Park. Parking fees also include park entry. The upper falls are quite large and feature small pools to swim in. Upper White Oak falls is the last waterfall along the trail although you can hike on further if you want. If you're interested in swimming the biggest swimming holes are close to the lower falls and the White Oak parking lot and are more crowded. And you climb the trails the holes get more shallow, but are fun for a dunk and more secluded. Make sure you bring some swimming gear or shorts if you want to swim.

Park Emergency Number: (800) 732-0911

Directions from Front Royal, VA: Skyline Drive travels the entire length of Shenandoah National Park. Mile markers are placed along the right-hand side of the road heading south. They are numbered from north to south beginning at the northern terminus in Front Royal, Virginia. Facilities, trails and park features use the mile markers as points of reference. Park in the Whiteoak Canyon parking area at mile 42.6. Trailhead is located in lot.

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Reviews (470)
Photos (1248)
Recordings (296)
Completed (1317)
Sierra Kennedy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 2, 2020
Hiking

This is probably the hardest hike I’ve done since moving here. It’s quite literally 2300ft straight up and then 2300ft straight down. Surprisingly, going down to as the hardest part. At times the trail was hard to follow. Definitely went off trail a bunch both purposefully and unintentionally. All in all I loved this hike. It pushed me. Make sure to pack extra water, as this was the first time I ran out in a long time. Also, start early.

Alex Tromp
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking

Trail is sneaky... it’s deceiving if you start from the top and work your way down as it’s much harder to get back up afterwards.... great waterfalls and scenery though.

Chantelle Glymph-Gregory
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 26, 2020

This one was tough. We started from the lower trailhead, towards Skyline Drive, so after a mile and a half we reached the lower main waterfall. There are pretty much four sections to this waterfall: the section closest to the waterfall seemed to cater to the college kids. There was a lot of beer, weed, and "other" activities. The next section was the home of fish and water snakes. Third, is a smaller section (big enough for two families) but the natural waterslide is a BLAST! And lastly, is your typical swimming hole! I tried to hike it all the way to the top but between the heat, and the uphill battle with the rocky terrain I just couldn't do it. I made it 2 more miles uphill then headed back down to reward myself in the waterfalls! :)

Hannah Mackey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 16, 2020
HikingBugs
Bianca Ignacio
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 12, 2020
HikingBugs

The hike was strenuous but very rewarding! My dog enjoyed swimming by the waterfall. Took us about 6 hours to finish but be careful! We were stung by yellow jackets on our way back up the mountain and made the last 3 hours a little rough.

Anna Faulks
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 10, 2020
Hiking

Awesome hike. Hiked to the lower falls on a hot summer day and loved swimming in the pools under the waterfall. Highly recommend.

Abbey Walton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 26, 2020
HikingRocky

The trail was great but SO long it was definitely so hard!!! We started at 10 and didn’t finish till about 4 ish. We stopped at some swimming holes to swim and we took some breaks because it was tough. We did it in August and it was SO hot I wish I had packed more water. Atleast we started at the bottom which I highly suggest, if you start at the bottom it means you do all the up hill work first. We did hike about 1 mile up the wrong trail it was a little unclear.

1WildK9 *
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMarch 23, 2020
HikingClosed

After visitors were warned to pick other trails as Old Rag and White Oak were crushed by overcrowding on 3/22/2020, the following statement was issued: As of 3/23/2020 Per Shenandoah National Park’s social media accounts: Old Rag Mountain and Whiteoak Canyon trails, the boundary access roads, Nethers Road and Weakley Hollow Road, are currently closed by the Madison County Sheriff's Office. Only local residents will be able to access these roads. Please stay away from this area at this time. I would check their social media accounts in the coming days/ weeks to see if / when they reopen.

Drew Walker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 9, 2020
HikingRocky

8 Mar 2020: Great trail, great photo opportunities, great hike coming down from Cedar Run and Hawksbill.

Bourke Betz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMarch 8, 2020
Hiking

Did this over Thanksgiving. Very moderate hiking. It was quite pleasant and the ascent was enjoyable. The water fall pool is likely quite nice as a cool down spot in the summer. It’s best feature (aside from a cute falls) is the ascent on the return.

Bush Bell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 12, 2020
Hiking

Typical trail off the skyline drive. Nice gentle downward slop until you hit the falls. The very steep with many steps placed or carved in. Creek and falls were full of water and looked great. Encountered 15 or so people mostly in small groups. Trail well makeres and maintained aside from the 3-4 fresh tree falls. 3 creek crossings by bridges. Arrived at parking lot at 1030 and there were plenty of spots. Fewer as I came off trail.

View Bush's Recording
Thomas Squire
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 29, 2019
HikingRocky

Great hike on a warm December day. Lots of climbing from trailhead to skyline drive parking and back. Little over 7 miles. Waterfalls are great. Looking forward to doing this in the summer so I can swim. Lots of leaves on the trail make for some hidden rocks. The climbing up gets steep in some spots.

dave r.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 10, 2019
Hiking

Great trail!! We did 7 of the 9 miles starting at the Skyline Drive trail head. the first 2.5 miles are moderate with some ups and downs. This gets you to the Upper Falls which is incredible! If you decide to go further, heed the warnings! it's steep down, which means steep up! But there are several other falls and the pain is worth it! Some great spots to stop and rest by the falls and eat lunch or some snacks as you go beyond the Upper Falls.

View dave's Recording
Nishant Shah
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 9, 2019
Hiking

Excellent in and out trail. Steep at parts coming back but very doable for a family.

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Amper Buscato
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarNovember 5, 2019
Hiking

The trail is pretty easy to hike going down to the falls. We saw some nice view from the top and some little falls but we never get a chance to see the big falls.. Going back its hards because its pretty steep. So far its not my favorite trail.. im a type of hiker to like to see the view of the mountains..

Julio Membreno
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 3, 2019
Hiking

Amazing water falls and very challenging! I loved it!!

Moses Nasser
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 29, 2019
Hiking

My favorite hike I’ve ever been on! So so beautiful!!! I’m so thankful!

View Moses's Recording
Missy Hazen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 22, 2019
Hiking

fog limited the views but gave the forest an ethereal quality than that made the hike really enjoyable. I would honestly say the difficult rating is undeserved as the trail is wide and not Rocky especially compared to others in the park.

Ian Curtis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 9, 2019
HikingRocky
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eric christ
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 9, 2019
HikingRockyScramble
View eric's Recording
Michael Conforti
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 8, 2019
Hiking

Cool trail! The trail was pretty easy and doable.

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christopher parrella
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 29, 2019
HikingRocky
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Nick Henry
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 24, 2019
HikingRocky

ITS A HIKE DOWN THEN UP TRAIL if you start via GPS location on here. It was a fun easy to me (young 20’s tall male) hike. This time of year water was very low so not too many places to swim. Went on a Monday; so there was nearly nobody else out. Strung up my hammock just below the last fall before making my way back up. Not as many scenic openings as I would’ve hoped. I will give this trail another shot when there has been more rain.

Mecca Bostwick
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 22, 2019
Hiking

Go early, bring lots of water and enjoy this beautiful and challenging hike

Stephen Erickson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 20, 2019
Hiking

Amazing hike. Great during hot season. Places to cool off in the water. Very incline. No dirty litter bugs like at our southern borders. Loved it.

rafe hart
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 8, 2019
Hiking

One of my favorite hikes in the park, but better to start from the bottom and make it a loop as you go up. Gives you more payoff after the hardest work.

Colleen Ghrer-Burke
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 7, 2019
HikingRocky
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Malinda Z
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 24, 2019
Hiking

Disappointing to see human feces (with a torn NPS map used as TP) right off the trail, several wads of used TP, and one lady peeing less than 10 feet from the trail and next to a stream on my hike yesterday (8-23-19). This is a heavily trafficked trail, though most people start from Skyline and maybe don’t go all the way down to the boundary parking lot. I hiked this from the bottom up to Skyline and back down, lots of waterfalls to see, but also loads of people on a Friday.

Benjamin Hopwood
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 16, 2019

Hiked up to bigger waterfall & back to trailhead

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