Whiteoak Canyon Trail

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia 22835

Elevation Gain3,021ft
Trailhead Elevation3,499ft
Elevation Min/Max1250/3499ft
Elevation Start/End3499/3499ft

Whiteoak Canyon Trail

Whiteoak Canyon Trail is a hiking trail in Madison County, Virginia. It is within Shenandoah National Park. It is 4.1 miles long and begins at 3,499 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,021 feet. The White Oak Canyon parking - Upper Lot parking is near the trailhead. This trail connects with the following: Cedar Run Trail, White Oak Fire Road, Old Rag Fire Road, White Oak Canyon Trail and Meadows Horse Trail.

Whiteoak Canyon Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Easy Day Hikes: Shenandoah National Park (Falcon Guides)
Bert and Jane Gildart
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"A loop hike to the summit of the park’s highest mountain with spectacular views."
Best Hikes with Kids: Washington, DC, the Beltway & Beyond (The Mountaineers Books)
Jennifer Chambers
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"Whiteoak Canyon is one of the most popular places in Shenandoah National Park to hike besides Old Rag, a strenuous 9-mile loop with a challenging rock scramble at the top—not a great choice if you have kids younger than ten. On spring, summer, and fall weekends, a ranger stationed in a National Park Service (NPS) shed adjacent to the trailhead kiosk provides maps, collects fees, and answers questions. The parking lot, which holds about thirty cars, is on private property; the NPS has permission to use the land through an easement. Cars are prohibited from parking on VA 600. Hikers enter park property a short distance from the trailhead. Shenandoah’s park boundary is marked by large orange dots painted on tree trunks. After your hike, you and your kids might enjoy picking apples at the Graves Mountain Orchard, nearby on VA 670. Or you might go wine tasting at the family-friendly DuCard Vineyards on Etlan Road (VA 643)."
Best Easy Day Hikes Shenandoah National Park (Falcon Guides)
Bert and Jane Gildart
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"This hike travels to some of the park’s most spectacular waterfalls. Although this hike is almost 6 miles long, we have included it here because there is so much to see along the way. The inbound portion of the hike is uphill, but at any time you can turn around and make the easy downhill hike back to the trailhead. This hike provides access to some of the most spectacular falls in the park. The farther you go, the more falls you will pass—six if you complete the entire hike."
AMC's Best Day Hikes in The Shenandoah Valley (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
Jennifer Adach and Michael R. Martin
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"Not only is this hike one of the great classics of Shenandoah National Park and of Virginia more generally, but it is also a strong contender for the best waterfall hike in the state. To begin this classic and much-loved Shenandoah hike, start by walking to the back of the parking lot past the ranger station. A bridge takes you over the creek. At this point, you’re walking on blue-blazed Whiteoak Trail, which quickly arrives at an intersection. The left fork leads up Cedar Run, the described route; the right, up Whiteoak Canyon. Though you can certainly walk Whiteoak Canyon first, Cedar Run is the steeper trail; you’ll likely be more comfortable climbing it and then descending the less steep, though certainly challenging, Whiteoak Canyon Trail."

Whiteoak Canyon Trail Trip Reports

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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. :)
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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.
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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.

Whiteoak Canyon Trail Photos

Trail Information

Shenandoah National Park
Nearby City
Shenandoah National Park
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Additional Use
Shenandoah National Park (charges a fee)
Local Contacts
Available at the NPS shed on weekends (spring through fall) or on the park’s website
Local Maps

Trail Log