Hiking Whiteoak Canyon

October 20, 2009

There’s something almost magical about waking up in Shenandoah. Saturday as I crawled out of the tent, I looked around a few minutes before realizing there were deer nearby, less than 20 feet, masked by dense fog. Through the mist I saw the swaying figures and heard them ripping up the vegetation.

Slowly, as everyone got up, we developed a plan for the destination of the day, Whiteoak Canyon Trail, which leads to a gorgeous overview of a waterfall. I had never done that hike before, so I was excited.

Whiteoak Canyon Trail is just north of Limberlost Trail, one of my other all-time favorite places (Don’t ask me why I love it so much because I won’t stop talking if you do). As we trekked through the initial phase of the trail, it actually intersects, twice, with Limberlost, before getting somewhat steeper.

At a very leisurely pace, along with an impromptu rockclimbing break, we covered the distance to the first overlook in 2 hours. Along the way, I briefly saw a hawk fly through the fog, but wasn’t able to clearly identify it. As we descended further, the fog clung to the elevations above us, but the overcast day remained.

The first waterfall along the trail is gorgeous – 86 feet in all. There is great natural overlook and ample room for a large group to check it out all at the same time.

After a little break, we headed further down the trail, noting the somewhat dramatic increase in the angle of the trail. After a while, having seen several of the falls, we turned back the way we came. My best advice is to allow plenty of time for the hike if you plan to hike a full circuit. Having walked maybe 3/4 of the trail down and back took us a little over 4 hours.

The fog was a constant presence on the mountain, but in the evening snow decided to join us, too. With other obligations, I regretfully had to head out after dinner, hoping that the snow hadn’t put the park on lockdown (it hadn’t – yet).

Aside from a few chipmunks and squirrels, nothing else really jumped out in the wildlife arena. I had hoped to see a bear on the trip, but I’m just as glad to have seen the coyote. Any trip through the park is special, but all for different reasons.

2 Responses to “Hiking Whiteoak Canyon”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    I was also at Shenandoah this weekend with a local outdoor adventure club I belong to in Eastern North Carolina. Thankfully we stayed in one of the PATC cabins (Range View) as we were treated to 4 inches of snow Sunday morning! On our way out of the park Sunday afternoon, we saw plenty of deer in the middle of Skyline Drive. It was quite an odd site to see the fall leaves covered in snow!

  2. Evan Dyson Says:

    Jennifer, I’ve seen that too. It’s pretty amazing. Thanks for dropping by!

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