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Whiteoak Canyon

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (22)

Whiteoak Canyon has been called the "scenic gem" of Shenandoah, a steep gorge with six waterfalls.


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Map Key

5.0

Miles

8.0

KM

Point to Point

3,524' 1,074 m

High

1,192' 363 m

Low

3' 1 m

Up

2,335' 712 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

29%

Max Grade (16°)

Dogs Unknown

Features River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Children can enjoy the water at any hiking distance. Go as far or near as they like.

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Larry W. Brown

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 22 votes

#183

Overall
  4.5 from 22 votes
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4 Star
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1 Star
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Trail Rankings

#2

in Virginia

#183

Overall
159 Views Last Month
4,799 Since Mar 18, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

The second of 6 waterfalls in Whiteoak Canyon (the 1st being the very upper falls).
May 15, 2016 near Stanley, VA
The lower falls of Whiteoak Canyon (the 6th of 6 waterfalls).
May 15, 2016 near Stanley, VA
Looking back across the bridge connecting Whiteoak Canyon trail to the fire road.
Jan 17, 2016 near Stanley, VA
Whiteoak Canyon Falls.
Jan 17, 2016 near Stanley, VA
Lower set of falls. Nice place for lunch.
Apr 20, 2018 near Stanley, VA
This is the lower falls on a winter day when water is very active.
Feb 26, 2016 near Stanley, VA

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Check-Ins

Nov 2, 2019
Lisa Gardner
Oct 3, 2019
Ryan Gillikin
20h 00m
Aug 10, 2019
Dan Dan PeakbagginMan
With Brenda, Hayden Anna, David and Heather
Jun 15, 2019
Maxx Dillon
Jun 5, 2019
Hauni Davis
Did 3 mi in and 3 out. Great hike with amazing views. Trail starts easy with gradual decent that increases quite drastically around the 2 mile mark. 6mi
May 28, 2019
Chris R
Nik and Michael after work 2.3mi
Apr 27, 2019
Alec Lynde
Incredible waterfalls! Switchbacks are a killer leg workout, but totally worth it for the views. 5mi
Apr 26, 2019
Alicia Crain
Up to first waterfall and back on a pleasant late morning-early afternoon jaunt. Rain shower.