Whiteoak Canyon Trail
Entrance Between Mile 42-43 Skyline Drive
Shenandoah, VA 22849
(540) 999-3500

Latitude: 38.586189
Longitude: -78.380613
(Note: Pin point is start of the trail)

Of the many great things you can do in Shenandoah National Park (camping, sightseeing from Skyline Drive, horseback riding etc.) one of our more particular favorite activities is hiking the waterfall trails. The Whiteoak Canyon trail is likely the most popular of the 9+ waterfall trails in the park because it offers one of the most scenic main waterfalls with moderately easy access. The main waterfall itself has a beautiful 86 foot main drop and a perfect natural rock/viewing ledge directly across it that makes for great photographs.

Earlier in Spring season the trail boasts more spectacular/full falls due to the increase in water, and in the fall the very tight knit with all the trees makes for a spectacular surrounding scene to the falls. Unfortunately we visited right in the middle of summer but while we didn’t get either of those seasons captured on film, the trail/falls are still plenty gorgeous. Many also say the falls have a uniquely spiritual look when frozen in the winter (may have to go back and check that out some time).

However, what many miss out on due to either lack of knowledge or due the plain physical difficulty is that this waterway, Whiteoak Run, is actually home to six waterfalls in all. So appropriately named: Whiteoak Canyon #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6. While all of these separate falls are very beautiful in their own unique way, the one daunting task to see them all is difficulty for novice hikers. The trail to #1 alone is already 2.3 miles; but it takes another 2.8 miles or so to see all six, including the fact that you have to go all the way to #6 and then hook back a secondary trail to properly see #4 and #5.

If the additional distance weren’t enough to discourage most, the elevation change can do you in if you aren’t prepared both physically and mentally. The trail goes from an Easy/Moderate rated hike between the start to fall #1 directly to a Moderate and Difficult rating to continue on the trail to #2-6. You end up not only doing the additional miles, but changing elevation 2,000+ feet while doing it. BUT, while it is more demanding to reach #2-6, it is entirely worth it for those who do, not just for the views but the swimming that can be done at the base of the beautiful waterfall #6.

Our recommendation: definitely see waterfall #1 and have a picnic there, and if you’re young or experienced enough to do a little work; make your way to all six falls. You won’t regret it; but bring plenty water and maybe even some fruit and plan for quite a few stops coming back up the mountain to rest. For sure, don’t forget bathing suits if you’re going to make it all the way to #6… you know, unless you plan on being all natural with nature :)