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Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, United States

Cedar Run Loop - White Oak Canyon

Waterfalls galore at Shenandoah National Park

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    This guide contains photos
 (4 votes, 3 reviews)
Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 8.0 miles / 12.9 km
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
Overview: This is a great hike located in shenadoah NP, not too far from Old Rag. If you've done Old Rag you can probably do this one too. Its about 8 miles for this loop and a bit more strenuous than Old Rag (more stair stepping).

There are two parking lots that intersect this trail, one on skyline drive south of big meadows, and one that needs to be accessed off road 643 in the lowlands (this is the route i took and the comments below are based on the off-skyline drive route).

Start early! 7 am is great.

you will come to an intersection starting at the off-skyline 643 parking lot, suggest you go right and run the loop counterclockwise.

The trail markers are blue on the trees, then theres a short yellow section, then blue again for the return. make sure you double check your GPS at the intersections to stay on the right trail.

The 1st section of trail takes you to the right along about 30 big and small waterfalls! WATERFALLS galore! this is the strenuous section of the trip. There is a great rock wall for climbers on this section approximately 1-1.5 miles from the trailhead (road 643) parking lot (weakly hollow road) which also makes a great place for lunch.

A short way past the falls section you will encounter a map on the trail and you can decide if you want to turn back and call it quits for the day. If you would like to continue on the loop for a total of 8 miles, you can take the yellow trail section.

The yellow trail is the 2nd leg of the loop, you will go over a steel bridge crossing the river where there is a fork. The yellow trail is to the LEFT, and the blue trail on the right goes 3 miles to skyline drive (which is not part of this loop). The yellow trail is a horse trail, but still climbs to approximately ~3200 feet gradually. There are no stair steps here, and you still may need to stop and catch your breath. No views here, and no waterfalls here. You will encounter the next intersection which you should follow to the left (still yellow blazes). This leg of the loop ends at the skyline drive parking lot which can be your other entry point for this trail. At this intersection (4 way) you will take the blue blazed trail which returns in the direction that you came.

The 3rd and final leg of the trail is blue marked and starts from the skyline drive parking lot intersection. This leg has less waterfalls than the one we started with, however it has a most notable waterfall called "the slide" becuase it is a sheer gradually sloped face with lots of waterflow over it, kind of like a slide. Having reached the peak of the hike in the 2nd leg end, this leg of the hike is stair stepping downhill all the way. BEWARE that there are 3 river crossings, and this can be dangerous becuase they are on logs if you dont want to get wet. You can safely scoot along on the logs and make all the crossing. The final crossing will have RED blazes on the trees marking all the crossing (approximately 4 log crossings). Be careful as the rocks may be slippery and can result in serious injury.

The rest of the way after the last crossing is a mostly rockless path back to the starting (road 643) parking lot (weakly hollow road).

This hike can be considered more strenuous than old rag mountain which is right next door.

If you are taking tons of pictures of the falls, swimming, or taking an extra long lunch, then you should plan on 6-7 hours for this hike. why rush?

The trail has groups come through heading to big meadows etc and can be busy at times... so start early.

If you have ankle / knee problems (like my torn ligament) then this trail can take you all day long as you go slowly, but it is not recommended for those individuals.

the larger wildlife was sparse this day, but may be present other days with fog etc.

Have a great hike :-)

Tips: Bring 3-4 bottles of water or gatoraid, a good lunch with sodium (salt).

A hiking stick or pole is a must for this one.

Recommend the road 643 parking lot (weakly hollow road) as parking will be more available than on skyline drive.

Recommend you start early, 7 am is good.

For those with ankle / knee issues this hike may take you all day as 2/3 of it is stair stepping on rocks / loose rocks so know your own limits and beware.

This hike is more strenuous than old rag hike.

Points of Interest


parking lot (weakly hollow road)

This is the good parking lot, the preferred point of entry. must pay fee to get the permit. A nice map shows you whats in store for you.

When you start the trail, it is suggested you do the loop in a counterclockwise direction. that way youll do the most strenuous section on the 1st leg (on the right) then some more climbing to the summit on the 2nd leg (the horse trail) then coming back on the 3rd leg is downhill stair stepping.

So go right and you'll get most of the falls right away. If you dont want to do the loop you can go right and come back the same way and see most of the falls in the area.

Waterfall 1

Great waterfalls all along this 1st leg of the loop trail, many small cascades. There is a climbing wall up ahead for freeclimbing.

This area is very strenuous and you will need plenty of water and may need to take several breaks.

Waterfall 2

Yet another great waterfall, only uploaded a few but there are more than 30 big and small, with some of them being major waterfalls

Waterfall 3

One of about 30 on this side, and this is one of the biggest, there is a terrific overlook here and a great spot for lunch.

Not far after this, you will enter the 2nd leg on the horse trail, which slowly climbs to the summit on a gradual dirt road.

Waterfall 4

There is a map near here so check it out, and decide if you want to continue. The intersection here is (going counter clockwise in the loop) blue on the left and yellow on the right. stay on the blue until you get to the bridge point.

Intersection for blue and yellow trails

This is the intersection for the blue and yellow trails.

You should take the yellow trail on the left if traveling counterclockwise, if you fail to take this trail then the blue one will continue on to the upper skyline drive entrypoint which is north of the skyline drive parking lot.

This intersection is at a bridge in the river.

Yellow blazed horse trail

This yellow blazed horse trail climbs to 3200 feet if traveling counterclockwise in this loop. It goes until you reach the parking lot on skyline drive. it is a gradual upward slope with no loose rocks. stay on the left trail, there is 1 intersection before the next point.

Parking lot on skyline drive

This is the parking lot on skyline drive, and is also the intersection for the yellow and blue trails.

4 way intersection:
- 1 trail goes to parking lot.
- 1 goes to cedar run (thats the blue trail that goes back in the direction you just came from if traveling counterclockwise....)
- 1 trail is the yellow horse trail that you just walked on
- and the last trail is the yellow horse trail that continues on for another mile or so and ends.

Take the blue cedar run trail to get back to the weakly hollow road 643 parking lot.

Blue blazed cedar run trail

This is the blue blazed cedar run trail that goes from the skyline drive parking lot to the road 643 (weakly hollow road) parking lot. If traveling on the loop counterclockwise then this is downhill through stair steps with loose rocks. you also have to cross the river about 3 times on logs and rocks, so be prepared for that.

More small waterfalls

More small falls here, lots of great places for swimming.

There are about 3 stream crossing coming up. these are NOT trivial crossings. You have to go over a 30 foot log to get over dry.

Watch out for snakes on rocks and in the water!!

The Slide waterfall

This is the slide waterfall, it is a flat sheet of rock that water "slides" down for about 40-50 feet. Great spot for a lunch break or a swim.

go ahead and slide down :-)

slide area

the famous slide area basin.... a great pool to swim in... probably crowded in summer time.

1 more stream crossing to go.

Cedar run lower falls

Cedar run lower falls area, the last of the waterfalls to see this trip.

After that, if going in a counter clockwise loop, then its easy walking back to the parking lot.
Pictures in this guide taken by: indiana_jones, jonsmiley, Spelunked
A Challenging hike well worth the effort!I arrived at 7am and started the hike going left I would of gone right if I would of known the course better. I finished around 12pm I stopped multiple times along the trails for photos and video but I was moving while actually hiking. Bring plenty of water and some snacks. The water falls are great and the one benefit to going left instead of right is that you save the big waterfall till last. This is a major attraction on the weekends, I did not see any hikers or swimmers till around 10am but when you get to the swimming holes they are packed and the trails get crowded. Arrive early as it gets pack at the swimming holes and once the parking lot is full people were parking on the side of the road a up to a half mile away.
Visited on Jul 18, 2015

by fivepointohno on Aug 22, 2015
We have done this loop several times, usually in the summer months. This last trip was the first in early spring and it turned out to be the greatest trip! The amount of water flow was tremendous! Waterfalls abound!
Visited on May 01, 2011

by thebio on May 08, 2011
5 of 5 for all the 30 waterfalls :-)
Visited on Mar 26, 2011

by indiana_jones on Mar 27, 2011

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