Staycation Sundays: Great Falls Park and Burke Lake Park


Kate Deng, Design Editor

As summer is winding down, this labor day weekend is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a little staycation in the form of hiking.

I know what you’re thinking — you’d rather not spend your last weekend of freedom with sweat dripping down your neck from the humidity of NoVA weather. Luckily for you, these next two days are hit with fairly good weather conditions (with Monday being slightly warmer than Sunday).

If you’ve never hiked before and am thinking that I’m crazy and about to give up on my article at this point, give me some time to explain. Although hiking may seem more revolting than actually going to the gym or running a few miles, I promise that it doesn’t feel that way at all.

Actually, it’s a great way to soak up some Vitamin D while just hanging out with friends.


1. Great Falls Park

If you’ve never been to Great Falls Park, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s where all the “hip” kids are hanging out these days. Well, not really, but there’s definitely been more hype over Great Falls this summer than in any past summers. So I thought I would give it a shot.

Right away when you enter the park, you can get a nice whiff of fresh barbeque from the family next door and spot everyone from your aunt Betty to your dog Pepper. I wouldn’t say it’s chaotic, but it’s definitely rowdy.

There are three outlook areas where you can get the best three views of the Potomac River. They claim that Outlook Three has the best view and Outlook One has the worst, but I can testify that none of these views are anything less than spectacular. It’s a great photo opportunity, but be careful not to trip and fall on your way down from Outlook One (this may or may not have happened to me).

There are also a numerous amount of trails that you can hike around, but I’ll give you a little hint–the best trail may be the one right under your nose. The River Trail is definitely the road most traveled by, which definitely has a good reason. It’s exactly what its title suggests–it’s a trail right by the river. It’s rocky, so it may not be suitable for everyone, but the view is definitely worth it. You can stand on the highest of rocks to see the view, or even trudge your way down the bottom where you can wade the water with your fingertips.  


2. Burke Lake Park

I never thought there would be so many things to do in a park, but it’s safe to say that anything you’d like to get out of a park is available at Burke Lake Park.

Burke Lake is open now, but here’s the kicker. September 7th is its last day. Meaning, if you want to go out and enjoy your Burke Lake experience, you have to do it today or tomorrow.

Burke Lake really is the perfect hiking location in my opinion. Every time I return, I find something new to do at the park. The fitness trails are perfect for just about everyone in the family, including pets. Every couple of feet there are exercise stations where you can do pull ups, push ups, and everything in between. If that’s not your thing, leisure walking or biking are both two perfectly viable options as well.

They also provide a perfect canoeing destination. One of the best feelings in the world is rowing all the way to the middle of the lake and then sitting there for brief pauses to catch a glimpse of the surrounding views.

After a nice walk or row, there is nothing better than a nice scoop of ice cream, which is provided and more at their useful concession stands. You can wind down while watching children go ‘round and ‘round on the park’s carousel (or you can be riding it with them–hey, no judgement).

Reading this back, I kind of sound like a boring advertisement, but everything I said really is true. There is no better way to spend your last days of freedom than at a hiking destination.