I’ve been going to Lake Accotink Park for almost thirty years, and it hasn’t changed much. That isn’t such a bad thing, as its a fine place to visit, even though it is surrounded by an industrial, urbanized area. Close to Interstate 95, and right around the corner from the infamous ‘mixing bowl of the Beltway”, this park can at least allow you to “temporarily get away from the madness associated with the area.’ The main reason I go here is for the fishing opportunities, and while they’ve decreased over the years, there are still some bass and catfish to be caught. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be many of the larger sized ones, and most often you’ll have a bluegill or sunfish on your line. Although that’s slightly disappointing, its a fine place to allow kids to learn how to cast, due to its open shorelines and minimal amount of snags.
The lake itself isn’t huge, but you can bring a battery powered boat. Its attractive enough, as it has plenty of shaded areas, and you can rent either a paddleboat or canoe for a reasonable cost. These are available at teh marina, along with some simple snacks, bottled waters, and even some live bait if you forget it. If boating or fishing isn’t your “cup of tea,” there’s other recreational opportunities you can enjoy. The trail along the lake is for the most part flat, and well groomed. You will be able to keep the sun at bay on the most oppressive of summer days, thanks to the Oak trees, and it only gets busy on the weekends. This trail is part of the “Connector” system in Fairfaxs, so do expect to see a few bicyclists on your journey around the lake.
Children, and adults who still haven’t grown up, will love the playground. Its located on a hill above the lake, and has a lot of equipment to try out. There are monkey bars and swings, but also a jungle gym type of setup, that allows you to climb a small rock wall, or go down some slides. On the weekends, take a ride on the Carousel. I don’t know how old it is, but its been here longer than I’ve been alive. Its $1.50 per ride for a child, and free for parents/grandparents accompanying them. You’ll get a five minute ride that has horses that go “up and down”, or can sit on a seat instead, while being serenaded by carnival like music.
A sight to watch is the commercial freight and passenger trains, traveling over the trestle that crosses the lake at around fifty feet. Since the railroad line is quite active, you are sure to get an opportunity to watch this. You can cook burgers and hotdogs on their charcoal grills, which are available first come/first serve at their picnic area. If you have a pooch, take a “dog boat ride.” Every summer, during the “dog days”, there’s an actual pontoon boat that you can bring your four legged friend on, for a ride around the lake. It only costs a couple of bucks, and its a howingly funny experience if your dog is cooperative. Lake Accotink is part of the Fairfax County Park Authority, and is open from dawn to dusk daily. It has no admission fees, and is located at 7500 Accotink Park Road Springfield, VA 22150.