Shenandoah National Park: Cedar Run – White Oak Canyon Loop Trail Part 2

Continued from Part 1

Out of the river and as dry as we could make ourselves, we made our way up the hill. Originally we were intending to just do a shuttle hike along Cedar Run Trail, but the two river crossings were uncomfortable and time-draining, so we decided it would be better to go on the whole 7.9-mile loop.

Zigzag Goldenrod

Zigzag Goldenrod

Zigzag Goldenrod, Broadleaf Goldenrod, or Solidago flexicaulis, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and blooms July to September (although we’ve also seen it in Shenandoah in October). Native to eastern North America, this wildflower grows in rich woods and thickets. These flowers attract both bees and butterflies. You can see a rushing waterfall cascade in the background of this photo.

Unfortunately, due to the rain for the past week, most of the flowers we saw (which are few as they are in autumn) were wilted or bedraggled.


Having started late, we got to the top of Cedar Run around lunch time. By then it was starting to rain lightly and we hid our cameras away and protect our bags with rain covers. The mist in the forest was lovely.

White Oak Fire Road

At the end of Cedar Run near Skyline Drive you turn right onto the Skyland/Big Meadows Horse Trail and then veer right again when you reach a fork onto White Oak Fire Road. The fire road is not too interesting by itself, but it was pretty in the mist.

White Oak Fire Road

Instead of forging ahead across the river, which is the most direct way to cross, it is much better to take a short detour when you reach the end of the fire road. You turn left and walk for a minute or two to reach a bridge to cross Robinson River.

Note: The wide-angle photos below were shot by my husband. You can see his Flickr page for more wide-angle nature photography.

Upper White Oak Falls

Since it had been raining for a full week, the river and waterfalls along White Oak Canyon were roaring and powerful.

Lower White Oak Falls

There are five major waterfalls along this park of White Oak Canyon Trail. The first three are called “Upper White Oak Falls” and the two below are called “Lower White Oak Falls.” The White Oak Canyon Trail is rocky and can be strenuous and slippery in places.

Near the end of the trail we had to cross Robinson River again. There were no bridges there and the rocks looks relatively smooth, so we followed the drill: take off your shoes and socks, wade through the river, dry off on the other end, and put your gear back on.

We were running short on time, especially considering the river crossings, and picked up the pace for the last mile or two. This loop trail can be quite busy with people, but the scenery is well worth taking the hike (and even wading through rivers) to view. Both Cedar Run and White Oak Canyon are among our favorite trails in Shenandoah National Park.

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