Whiteoak Canyon Picnic

This past weekend my friend, Brad, came for a visit. He arrived on Thursday evening, but had to entertain himself on Friday as I was working. Friday evening, he, Mike, and I went to our favorite local dining establishment — El Toro! — for a yummy dinner. Saturday, Brad and I left Hubby at home — he has a project going in his workshop — and went on a hike.

Trail Marker

Brad slept in on Saturday, so I had plenty of time to research the right hike. I opted for Whiteoak Canyon. The guidebook described the trail, which provided access to Whiteoak Falls, as not too strenuous, but did warn that the hike back up to the trailhead was a bit steep in spots.

There’s nothing like a waterfall hike to make you realize just how badly out of shape you are!

We stopped at Safeway here in town for some picnic fare — cheese, sausage, a baguette, olives, peppadews, and water — and then drove out to the park. It’s quite convenient living just 35 miles from the park’s Thornton Gap Entrance.


Temperatures were in the upper 50s/low 60s on the trail, which, in my opinion, is perfect weather for a hike.

Naked Trees

It’s still winter, so most of the trees are still bare. The big, dead tree (aka snag) I suspect is an Eastern Hemlock. According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, “Unfortunately, the hemlock woolly adelgid, an introduced insect, is taking a heavy toll on this species.” Sadly, there were quite a few snags in the forest.

Some of the deciduous trees were starting to bud.

I LOVE the sound of a fresh mountain stream.

Mountain Stream

After we’d walked a ways, we spotted a group of large boulders beside a pool, which made perfect seats for our picnic.

Downed tree full of Pileated Woodpecker holes.

It was also a good spot for some photos.

Lichen-covered rock.


Do you see a face?


Colorful Lichen


Brad examining the woodpecker holes.


Old Friends


Picnic Pool




Patterns in Nature


Baby Hemlock


Heart Rock


Clear Water





I’m not sure we ever made it to the lower falls. I’ll have to hit that trail again soon. Perhaps when the Mountain Laurel is in bloom.

By the time we’d finished eating, it was getting late. I wanted to show Brad a bit of Fauquier County and we still had to get home in time for dinner.

We exited the park at Thornton Gap, headed east toward Warrenton and then north on 522, through Flint Hill, to Hume Road. I was hoping the longhorns were out at the Marriott Ranch. They weren’t, but we did spot a small herd on Leeds Manor Road.

Of course, we had to stop for a closer look. And pictures.







Longhorn with REALLY big horns.




Young Tri-color

After a brief bovine visit, we continued on.

It was a lovely, lovely day. Brad and I have known each other for 32 years. We don’t get to see each other nearly as often as we’d like. We’ll both treasure this weekend for a long time.

I hope you were able to get out and enjoy some nice weather, too. Barely 24 hours later, we were hit with yet another snowstorm that dumped 10 inches of the cold, wet, white stuff behind.

Come on Spring!

9 Replies to “Whiteoak Canyon Picnic”

    1. Thanks, ShyB. Old friends are the best as in there’s something very special about going through so many different experiences/life stages together and, despite it all, still remaining close. As people grow, they change, and often drift apart. It takes special people to embrace those changes and still love each other anyway, regardless of their differences. “New” friends have a special place, too. I firmly believe that every single person I meet shapes me in some different way, either by enriching my life experience or showing me what sort of folks to avoid, how not to act, etc. Old friends are awesome, but every friend is special in her or his own way.

  1. Kathy:

    You don’t mean OLD friends. I think you mean “long-time” friends. Of course with bloggers, we are all just friends “yet to meet”

    I also like waterfalls but they are so hypnotic if you view them from the top as the water rolls over . . . At Niagra Falls you just feel like you are drawn into the water and flow over the falls too.

    A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Of course I mean “long-time”. 🙂

      I treasure all friends, old and new. There’s just something special about knowing people over many years, having shared growing pains, family drama, school headaches, etc.

      Believe it or not, I have never been to Niagara Falls!

  2. Beautiful pictures and a perfect spot for a picnic.

    I am so glad you got out to enjoy the beautiful day before your snow returned.

    Happy Spring!!

  3. I think that rock face looks like it’s smoking something…but that could just be me! 😉

    I can’t believe you’ve known Brad for 32 years and I’ve known you for more than 20 of those, but I still haven’t met/hung out with Brad!

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