Sample the best of our crown-jewel lands on these superlative trips.
by Casey Flynn
Vernal Falls (David Giral)
Clay Hoodoos (Kirkendall-Spring)
Best Swimming Holes Shenandoah National Park, VA
Whiteoak Canyon Loop
Nine waterfalls with ideal splash ponds and a natural slide await on this tough, 8.6-mile loop through two of Shenandoah’s steepest (and most beautiful) canyons. Whiteoak’s falls draw crowds, so plan an overnight to have the pools to yourself. Start from the Whiteoak Canyon trailhead on a weekday afternoon and set up camp in the first .7 mile (not allowed past this point). Wake up early, load a daypack, and alternate sweating and soaking on the Whiteoak Canyon Trail—you’ll soon enjoy dips beneath six waterfalls—as you work your way up 2,450 feet to the Whiteoak Fire Road. Then drop into Cedar Run basin, Whiteoak’s quieter sister canyon. Its three falls make for a grand finale— the final one has a natural slide carved in the rock. Take the link trail back to Whiteoak to grab your stashed pack on the way out. (540-999-3500; nps.gov/ shen) Trip ID 2207502
The way From Sperryville, take VA 231 S 10.2 miles. Turn right on SR 643. In 4.5 miles, bear right on Weakly Hollow Rd. to the trailhead.