There are six waterfalls ranging from 35 to 86 feet and many smaller cascades along the Whiteoak Canyon Trail, making this trail one of the most popular places to hike in Shenandoah National Park. During the warmer months, the swimming holes along the way are great places to cool off, but expect lots of company. The Whitoak Canyon Trail extends from mile 42.6 of Skyline Drive to the park boundary off Rt. 600. Listed below are three options for hiking to waterfalls in Whiteoak.
Hike to the Lower Falls from the BoundaryDifficulty rating: Easiest
Distance: 2 mi/3.21 km
Elevation gain: 500 ft/152 m
Trail features: Hike through the forest next to a stream leading to a 60-foot waterfall.
From the parking area at the Park boundary, begin at Whiteoak Canyon Trail. Keep right on Whiteoak Canyon Trail at the intersection with Cedar Run Trail. Cross a small stream and continue to the base of the lower falls. Return by the same route.
Hike to the Upper Falls from Skyline DriveDifficulty rating: Moderate
Distance: 4.6 mi/7.4 km
Elevation gain: 1,040 ft/317 m
Trail features: Hike through the forest next to a stream leading to an 86-foot waterfall.
From the Whiteoak Canyon parking area at mile 42.6 of Skyline Drive, take the Whiteoak Canyon Trail. Pass the junctions for the Old Rag Fire Road and the Limberlost Trail. About 2.3 miles from the start you will come to a rocky ledge with a view of the upper falls. Retrace your steps to return to the parking lot. The return trip will be very steep! Hiking to the other five falls adds a strenuous 2.7 miles
Hike the full Whiteoak - Cedar Run CircuitDifficulty rating: Very strenuous
Distance: 7.3 mi/11.7 km
Elevation gain: 2794 ft/852 m
Trail features: Hike to eight waterfalls along a trail surrounded by forest.
This hike forms a loop where you will see all the falls at Whiteoak, plus two smaller falls at Cedar Run. From Hawksbill Gap parking at mile 45.6 of Skyline Drive, take Cedar Run Trail until the intersection for the Whiteoak-Cedar Run Link Trail. Go left on the Link Trail, and left when you intersect with the Whiteoak Canyon Trail. Just after the upper falls, go left on the Whiteoak Canyon Fire Road/ Horse Trail. If the water is high, use the pedestrian bridge above the falls.
Map: Whiteoak Canyon Area
An average pace is:
1.5 mph for easiest trails.
1.4 mph for moderate trails.
1.3 mph for moderately strenuous trails.
1.2 mph for strenuous and very strenuous trails.
Directions to the boundary from Sperryville: Follow Route 211 to Route 522 south for 0.8 mile. Turn right on Route 231, follow 10.2 miles to Etlan, turn right on Route 643. Follow for 4.5 miles and turn right onto Route 600. Proceed 3.5 miles to the parking area.
Directions to the boundary from Madison: Route 29 Business, take 231 north for 5.6 miles to Route 670 at Banco. Continue 3.6 miles to Route 643 in Syria. Follow 0.8 mile on Route 643 to Route 600. Continue on Route 600 to the parking area.
Last updated: July 9, 2018