We present the Lagrangian whose corresponding action is the trace K action for General Relativity. Although this Lagrangian is second order in the derivatives, it has no second order time derivatives and its behaviour at space infinity in the asymptotically flat case is identical to other alternative Lagrangians for General Relativity, like the gamma-gamma Lagrangian used by Einstein. We develop some elements of the variational principle for field theories with boundaries, and apply them to second order Lagrangians, where we stablish the conditions -- proposition 1 -- for the conservation of the Noether charges. From this general approach a pre-symplectic form is naturally obtained that features two terms, one from the bulk and another from the boundary. When applied to the trace K Lagrangian, we recover a pre-symplectic form first introduced using a different approach. We prove that all diffeomorphisms satisfying certain restrictions at the boundary -- that keep room for a realization of the Poincar\'e group -- will yield Noether conserved charges. In particular, the computation of the total energy gives, in the asymptotically flat case, the ADM result.