Lake Accotink Park provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoying nature across its 449 acres. Central to the park is a 55-acre lake which is surrounded by wetlands and forest. As one of Fairfax County’s three lakefront parks, Lake Accotink Park attracts visitors from across the county but feels like a neighborhood park to the many residents who live nearby. Lake Accotink Park offers opportunities to hike and bike miles of trails, fish from the shoreline, and observe the changing of the seasons. From May through October, the park offers bike, canoe, and paddle boat rentals as well as tour boat rides around the lake to expand on the ways to explore the park. A 9-hole miniature golf, historic carousel, and playgrounds provide family amusements. Lake Accotink is a great place to enjoy a family picnic or social gathering – among the trees, on the grass, or in a covered pavilion. A concessions stand and restrooms add to the comfort of a visit to the park. Lake Accotink Park also serves to build a sense of community through hosting summer concerts and camps as well as perpetual favorites such as the Bark in the Park pet events and the yearly Cardboard Boat Regatta. Whether young or old, active or a little more laid back, two-legged or four, Lake Accotink Park continues to provide enjoyment to thousands of visitors each year.
Acquisition The Park Authority’s history with Lake Accotink Park began in 1960 with the leasing of 242 acres of land that at the time was owned by the federal government. The modest development of boating facilities and concessions were soon followed by the addition of trails, picnic shelters, and a playground. Through the early 1960s, numerous smaller acquisitions expanded the park by nearly 50 additional acres. In 1965 through the Federal Lands to Parks Program, the Park Authority was given
the opportunity to purchase the land area that had previously been leased for $88,250. As the neighborhoods of Springfield and Annandale sprouted in the 60s, Lake Accotink expanded recreation opportunities close to home for the many families moving to the expanding suburbs. Additional property was added to the park from the mid-1960s until the mid-1970s, bringing the total Lake Accotink Park acreage to 449 acres.
Historic Features Of the tens of thousands visitors to Lake Accotink Park, few immediately recognize signs that speak of our county’s heritage. But if one looks closely, the clues start to become evident. The presence of Accotink Creek would have been attractive to prehistoric and Native Americans to establish their homes. The name “Accotink” is derived from an Algonquian word meaning “at the end of the hill”,
referring to the name of the largest village in the area.
The area of Lake Accotink Park was once crossed by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, chartered in 1849, connecting Alexandria with Gordonsville. During the Civil War, the railroad was used to transport troops and supplies, with its wooden trestle over Accotink Creek being a prime target for Protect, restore and preserve the natural, historical and cultural resources of Lake Accotink Park saboteurs. The Orange and Alexandria Railroad was purchased by Southern Railways in 1894. The route of the old rail line is still visible within the park and provides service access to the park from
Rolling Road. In several locations, stone culverts built with the railroad in the 1850s are still visible and functional.
The Lake Accotink dam also tells the history of the area. Accotink Creek was first dammed in 1918 after the land was purchased by the War Department. Originally referred to as the Springfield Dam, the structure caused the formation of Lake Accotink for the purpose of providing safe drinking water for the Army Corps of Engineers. This same structure was dismantled shortly thereafter in 1922 due
to concern that the dam threatened the structural integrity of the railroad trestle. The dam was reconstructed in 1943 and the lake reformed to provide a potential source of drinking water to what is now Fort Belvoir.
Natural Resources Lake Accotink Park is situated in the middle of the 51 square mile Accotink Watershed. Runoff from as far north as Chain Bridge Road in the Town of Vienna passes through Lake Accotink on its route through Fort Belvoir and into Accotink Bay and ultimately the Potomac River. The lake and its surrounding forests provide habitat for a myriad of birds, mammals, insects, amphibians and fish.
The consolidated tree cover in the park helps protect water and air quality and provides critical wildlife corridors and safe havens.