In early December, I decided to take a trip to the Washington, D.C. region, and explore a little bit of Shenandoah National Park for a weekend. There are a pretty significant number of waterfalls in the park, so it was a little bit difficult to decide which one or two to visit, but in the end I decided on hiking the trail that leads to the waterfalls in White Oak Canyon. There are some pretty great falls along the trail, but be prepared for one intense hike.
I started from the parking area along Skyline Drive, and the hike DOWN wasn’t bad at all. To get to the impressive, but somewhat hindered, Upper White Oak Canyon Falls, you’ve got to hike a little something less than 2.5 miles. There are then numerous falls further downstream, but every fall you visit adds time to your hike. (No duh, of course it adds more time, but this becomes far more obvious on the way back up!) So if you just want to see a really great, and what I expect is a surprisingly tall waterfall, stop at this first major falls, Upper White Oak Canyon Falls.
The pain begins to appear on the way back UP. Even in those 2.5 miles, you’ve descended something like 800-1000 feet (at least). On the way back, you ascend those 1000 feet, at a minimum, and it can be very tiring. Bring food, water, and the will to get back to the parking lot!
1) At the intersection of US-211 and Skyline Drive, head south on Skyline Drive.
2) After five or six miles, you should see the parking area for the White Oak Canyon Trail, which is where your journey begins. It’s just after the entrance to the Skyland Resort.
3) From here, follow the very clear signage for about 2.5 miles to the first falls. More falls await if you decide.
Where in the World is Upper White Oak Canyon Falls?: map