Whiteoak Canyon is true wilderness beauty - a shady place of great boulders, of cascades and pools and sheer rock walls, and a steep gorge with 6 waterfalls. As you might expect, this has always been one of the most popular places in Shenandoah. On summer weekends you'll find the parking area full and the canyon crowded.
The trail, from the Skyline Drive to the first (and tallest) waterfall, is in good condition, and rather easy. But further down it gets steeper, and parts of it are rough and rocky. Please note that, like most waterfall trails starting from the Skyline Drive, you have an easy downhill jaunt, but the work comes on the way back up to your starting point. Remember when you descend into the canyon, you still have to work your way back up.
The trail starts gently downhill, swinging first right and then left around a swampy area. Cross a small stream and, 0.6 mile from the start, cross the Old Rag Fire Road. After another quarter of a mile you'll cross the Limberlost Accessible Trail. After a couple of hundred yards a small stream comes in from the right and flows beside the trail.
Continue, downward. Pass cascades and pools, cliffs and ledges and surrealistic boulders. Then, a mile and a third from the Limberlost Trail
, you come to another trail junction with a concrete marker post. The trail turns left here, crosses the stream on a bridge, and then continues downstream on the left bank to where the trail widens. 30 yards farther, a horse trail comes in on the left, and the Whiteoak Fire Road to the right. Continue straight ahead to another widening in the trail. Diagonally ahead to the right are two rocky ledges. From the downstream ledge you have a fine view of the upper falls.
Continue, downward. Below the upper falls the canyon is narrow, and the trail is steep and rough. If you take the Whiteoak Canyon Trail all the way to the bottom, you'll reach a parking area in Berry Hollow, where most folks begin the Whiteoak Canyon to Cedar Run Loop
. You can opt to continue on to the Cedar Run Trail
from here, which will take you back to your original starting point at Skyline Drive.
Thanks to Larry W. Brown, for sharing this trail description. If you’re interested in learning more details about great hikes, weather, camping / lodging, wildlife, and scenic drives, check out the comprehensive Guide to Shenandoah National Park