Burling Cabin Site – McLean, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

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Burling Cabin Site

The local community brought back this land to transform it into a nature preserve.  


Edward D. Burling, a founding partner of Covington & Burling law firm, once owned well over a 100-acre portion of the land that makes up present-day Scott’s Run nature preserve. He built a cabin on the north side of the property as a place to relax and hold informal business meetings.

After Burling died in 1966, his family tried to sell the property to become a park. When that effort fell through, they sold the land to developers who planned to build luxury homes on part of the land—leaving just over half of the wooded land undisturbed. Concerned local residents joined together to stop the development.

Lobbying the government resulted in a referendum that involved local voters raising their own taxes and using the money, along with funds provided by federal and local governments to buy back the land.

All that remains of the cabin today is a large stone chimney with a bench and a trail map in the clearing where it stands, but the surrounding Scott’s Run Nature Preserve still stands as a lush, beautiful example of the power of civic action. 

Know Before You Go

Burling Cabin site is approximately one-half mile from Scott's Run parking lot at 7400 Georgetown Pike. It requires crossing two stretches of the creek on concrete pillars and traversing a pair of rather steep hills. Good hiking shoes are strongly recommended.

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May 19, 2022

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