Best Easy Day Hikes: Shenandoah National Park
by Bert and Jane Gildart (Falcon Guides)
© Bert and Jane Gildart/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
I planned this hike in Shenandoah at Whiteoak Canyon Trail mostly because the rating was moderate. It is not a moderate trail at all. You had better be in shape for this one. We started the trail off of CR600 near Front Royal. The plan was for a 6 mile hike to the Upper Falls and longer if there was time. We gave ourselves 3 hours as was indicated in the trail guide for this hike. The area is drop-dead gorgeous in fall. Every thing in sight has a certain 3D quality that was outrageous. The colors of the trees and the sounds of the water rushing by were just what we needed. The trail is typical AT rock and we were climbing the whole time. We did over 3 miles in and never reached the Upper Falls. We rested at an area that was about a mile from the Upper Falls and had lunch there. It couldn't have been any better. The lower Falls was nice but there were a ton of people there, some in the water some not. I have taken some pictures and if I get ambitious I'll add them to this report. This hike is well worth the effort and we'll do it again next time we're back to Shenandoah. :)
This is a great trail if you are fully in shape for the ups and downs of the stone stairways we encountered. We went unwittingly upon the advice of someone who was there before, and it was not long before we knew we were in above our head. There are many ways to the falls that are less strenuous. I would have appreciated this hike if I knew what to expect and to be prepared for it. We encountered a bear in the forest on our way out.
The waterfalls are amazing on this trail. The elevation gain is VERY strenuous. The trail was muddy and slippery in a few places due to rain earlier in the week. At the trailhead you need to be sure to pay $8 per person before you go on the trail. It is a VERY well traveled trail so don't look for peace and quiet here. Actually all the people were fairly annoying. I was in a group of 5 and we continued on the Cedar Run Trail, which made it a loop hike. This trail was easy on the fireroad crossing the mountain. On the way down Cedar Run we saw a Eastern Diamondback and a black snake. This trail was also slippery and muddy. There were a few stream crossings that were very hard to navigate for our group. Also, I am sure that this was due to the rain. Cedar Run trail was quiet and not alot of people. A much more enjoyable experience.
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