Burke Lake boating has a lot going for it—easy access and parking (free for county residents), plenty of room to spread out, and a peaceful, natural environment to enjoy. Burke is the largest of three Fairfax County Waterfront Parks that offer boat rentals and is a great choice for a family outing or quiet couples time. Our family of four includes two older teens and Burke Lake boating gave them the independence of their own canoe to row.
At 218 acres, Burke Lake is tiny compared to Virginia's largest lake—50,000 acre Buggs Island Lake in Clarkesville—but it seems spacious enough even on a busy day. The lake features over 5 miles of shoreline, numerous coves, and a small island that serves as a waterfowl sanctuary.
The Burke Lake marina rents canoes and rowboats (with or without trolling motors) at very reasonable rates. If you do your Burke Lake boating before 3:00 PM, a full day canoe rental is only $25.00 ($27.50 weekends) with up to 3 people per boat, life preservers included. After 3:00, a half-day weekday canoe rental is only $15.00. A basic rowboat rental also starts at $15, becoming more expensive depending on your choice of motor.
If you don't want to pilot your own boat, you can enjoy a narrated ride on the Burke Lake Tour Boat, which returned in 2015. The 30-minute tours run on the hour and are only $4.00 per passenger (2 and under free). Boat tours run on the weekends from 11:00 to 5:00, April to October.
The lake gets accolades for its stock of fish including largemouth bass, walleye, catfish and perch and we saw many people out trying their luck. Kayaks are prohibited except for fishing, and there were several people casting from solo kayaks when we visited.
If Burke Lake boating is too tame for you, try the river at Occoquan Regional Park and Riverbend Park, and at parks along the Chesapeake Bay including Mason Neck State Park, and Fountainhead and Pohick Bay Regional Parks.
Burke Lake Park is at 7315 Ox Road in Fairfax Station, VA 22039. Check the park website for more information and alerts.