Burke Lake Boating: Peaceful Family-friendly Fun in Northern Virginia

Updated on March 12, 2024 by Julie McCool

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.

Boating is a great choice for a family outing or quiet couples time. When our family of four included two older teens, Burke Lake boating gave them the independence of their own canoe to row. A canoe trip on the lake was one of our favorite Father's Day outings.

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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.

Burke Lake Marina

The Burke Lake marina rents canoes and rowboats (with or without trolling motors) at reasonable rates. For example, before 3:00 PM a full-day canoe rental is only $32.50 ($36.50 on weekends) with up to 3 people per boat, life preservers included. After 3:00, a half-day weekday canoe rental is only $17.50 ($21.00 on weekends).

Busy Marina on Father's Day at Burke Lake Park VA
Father's Day at Burke Lake Park VA

A basic half-day rowboat rental also starts at $15, becoming more expensive depending on your choice of motor. Visit the park website for a full list of boat rental options and rates. The marina at Burke Lake is open from late March through October.

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.

Beautiful Burke Lake
Beautiful Burke Lake

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.