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Whiteoak Canyon - Hawksbill Summit Loop

  4.7 ( 3 ) Favorite


13.6 mile 21.8 kilometer loop
76% Runnable


Ascent: 3,652' 1,113 m
Descent: -3,649' -1,112 m
High: 4,038' 1,231 m
Low: 1,165' 355 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 48% (26°)


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Trail shared by TN Vol77

The best of Shenandoah streams, waterfalls and mountain top views while avoiding fire roads!

TN Vol77

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife


Combines trails following two streams with a jaunt along the AT and a climb up to Hawksbill Mountain Summit, the highest point in Shenandoah park, for awesome views. Waterfalls, swimming holes and even a water slide on the lower portions of the trail. Have lunch at Byrd's Nest picnic shelter on Hawksbill Mountain Summit, or take a side trip to Skyland Resort for an earlier lunch.

Need to Know

National or Shenandoah park pass required. Free parking at trailhead is limited. Private parking nearby $10. Restrooms available at trailhead parking area.

Runner Notes

Sections of the trail are steep and rocky and may not be suitable for running.


Whiteoak Canyon Trail starts gently with a bridge crossing the stream and continues to follow the stream up through the canyon. The trail becomes steeper and halfway to Skyland Drive there is a sign warning of the steep trail. However the trail up stays steep for only a short distance where you reach a wonderful view of the upper waterfall. Shortly thereafter you reach the intersection with a fire road that crosses to Cedar Run Trail. You can bail out at this point (see Whiteoak Canyon to Cedar Run Loop) or continue up White Oak Canyon Trail to Skyline Drive.

Cross Skyline Drive and go up the road to Skyland Stable where you turn left to join the AT (or take a side trip to Skyland resort restaurant for lunch). Take the AT south for views of mountains to the west. Pass intersections on the left with three short trails that lead to parking areas along Skyline Drive. Take a left onto Salamander Trail to climb Hawksbill Mountain. Byrd's Nest picnic shelter is just below the summit. There are awesome views from in front of the shelter and a lookout area at Hawksbill Mountain summit, the highest point in Shenandoah Mountain Park.

From the summit go back past the shelter to Lower Hawksbill Trail which descends steeply to Skyline Drive. Cross Skyline Drive to Cedar Run Trail which follows a stream down the mountain. This section is very rocky and has three stream crossings that may be wet after heavy rain. There is a swimming hole below a hidden waterfall in the narrow gorge portion of the trail and a water slide at a stream crossing on the lower section of the trail. Finally take the right at the fork to return to an intersection with Whiteoak Canyon Trail which takes you back to the parking area.

Flora & Fauna

Heavily forested. Mountain laurel blooming along upper sections of the trail in June.

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Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes


  4.7 from 3 votes
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in Virginia


138 Views Last Month
492 Since Jun 8, 2019



Autumn view from the cliff near Crescent Rock Overlook.
May 24, 2016 near Stanley, VA
A winter afternoon view from Timber Hollow Overlook in the Central District .
May 24, 2016 near Stanley, VA
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
Lower set of falls. Nice place for lunch.
Apr 20, 2018 near Stanley, VA


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