Bike Hike


Identifier: 20060923-BikeHike
Purpose of outing: Troop bike hike and campout
Advancements: Biking merit badge
Mode of travel: Car
Planning horizon: Days/Weeks
Capacity: No limit
Fees: None
Distance: 5 mi, 10 min
Location: Wakefield Recreation Center to Burke Lake Wilderness Camping Area
Contact: Troop 1501
Dates: 2006-09-23 - 2006-09-24
Description: The Troop met at Messiah United Methodist Church at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 23, and returned Sunday around 11:15 a.m. Troop and patrol gear were issued by the troop quartermaster, and vehicles loaded. We loaded all troop and patrol gear in the two vehicles going to Burke Lake (so that all gear would be near camp when the scouts arrived) and placed bicycles not already on bike carriers on the trailer. We departed for Wakefield Recreation Center at approximately 8:15 a.m., with one vehicle going directly to the camp site. The bike route followed Fairfax’s newly opened Cross County Trail south to the bike path along the Fairfax County Parkway. From the intersection with the Parkway we headed west to the South Run Recreation Center and then took the trail to Burke Lake that starts behind the center then around the east side of the lake to the camping area. Those who did not bike drove directly to the camp area. The scouts were briefed by the SPL on biking safety, trail protocol, and the day’s route prior to setting out. Two-way radios were distributed among the group. The scoutmaster served as trail sweep. While the boys were making their way to Burke Lake, those in the camp hauled much of the gear to the site and set up patrol dining flies and some patrol gear. Approximately 25 cubs and 30 parents and siblings from Pack 1501, who were camping at the Burke Lake Campground, joined us at our evening campfire (and what a campfire it was!). The cubs were entertained, and helped to entertain us, with a number of skits and songs. Troop 1501 treated them to a selection of dutch oven desserts. Prior to the trek, a Scout and parent rode the CCT between Rolling Road and Lake Accotink. Others rode the section between Wakefield Recreation Center and Rolling Road. Several of us were familiar with the path along the Parkway and the trail to Burke Lake. Wakefield Recreation Center is located in Annandale, VA north of Braddock Road near the Capitol Beltway interchange. The main entrance to Burke Lake Park is located along Rt. 123 (7315 Ox Road) in Fairfax Station, VA, just south of its intersection with Burke Lake Road. Access to the Wilderness Camping Area, however, is from the cul-de-sac at the end of Lake Haven Road, which intersects Burke Lake Road just south of the Fairfax County Parkway. A parking permit is required for each vehicle. The campsite reservation was made by phone (Burke Lake Park, 703-323-6600). The site is not in great demand so, fortunately, a last-minute reservation was not a problem. Cost was $3 per person, which was covered by Troop funds. An initial estimate of 15 campers was used to make the reservation and hold the site. Confirmation was received by mail. Final counts, payment, and vehicle parking passes were handled at the Park office (near the main entrance) shortly after arrival Saturday afternoon. Total trip length was approximately 16.5 miles (as measured using bike computer). Total time on the trail was 3 1/2 hours. There were no serious mishaps or problems along the way. One parent needed to drop out at Lake Accotink due to an unrepairable inner tube problem. Repairs were also needed for a loose pedal and for dropped chains. A local tour permit was prepared the Tuesday before the trip.
  • Divide boys into two or more ability groups, perhaps offering more advanced riders the opportunity for a longer trek. This was not a serious problem on this outing but could easily become one for future outings.
  • Limit campfire size to the amount of water available. The Burke Lake Wilderness Area has no water source.
  • The scouts were amazingly compliant at following safety rules/tips, including dismounting at all of the roadway crossings and keeping the group together.
  • A wheelbarrow is an uncommon but excellent and efficient device for transporting heavy gear from car to camp.

Resources accessed:

  • Burke Lake Park web site for reservation information (
  • Reston Paths web site for excellent maps and trail information (including pictures of trail markers, trail intersections, stream crossings, etc.): (
  • Various scouting cycling web pages, which provided useful safety, preparation, and scoping tip
  • C&O canal tow path information, including notes from groups willing to share their experiences biking and camping along the path.

Equipment needed for a happy and safe trek:

  • Bicycle (in good repair and safe working order)
  • Bicycle helmet
  • Spare inner tube (or patch kit)
  • Tools for simple repairs (a rag for dirty hands?)
  • Troop t-shirt, for the ride
  • Trail snacks (trail mix, hard candy, slim jims, beef jerky, fruit leather, candy bar, etc.)
  • Water, water, and a bit more water (at least 2 liters)
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Something to carry this in (daypack, bike rack, etc.)