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Home > Watershed > Recreation on the Charles


The Charles River's 80 miles provides ample opportunity to explore a variety of habitat and river eco-systems, whether on foot or by boat. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation maintains a network of trails which extend from Newton along the Lower Basin of the river to Boston Harbor. Upstream, there are many pieces of public and private land where trails and boat launches are accessible to the public.

Run of the Charles Canoe and Kayak Race
The largest flat bottom boat race in New England, CRWA hosts this race for all skill levels on the last Sunday in April. Join us to paddle, volunteer, or cheer on the racers, and be sure to check out the Finish Line Festival and River Science Festival at Herter Park in Brighton.

Lower Basin Recreation Access Map
This full-color map, updated in 2009, shows boating and pedestrian features, as well as mileage, along the Charles River from the Watertown Dam to Boston Harbor. If you would like a hard copy of the map, please contact us! Click here to view the map in PDF format.

CRWA's Canoe and Kayak Paddling Guide
CRWA's paddling guide is a great resource for anyone interested in exploring the Charles, one of eastern Massachusetts's most scenic rivers. The pocket-sized, waterproof guide is packed with useful information about a variety of paddling reaches along 78 miles of the river — from pastoral meanderings to the bustling waters of Boston/Cambridge.

Current Charles River Paddling Conditions
View a list and map of known hazards or potential impediments to paddling in the Charles.

Recreation Links

Boating & Paddling | Other Sports | Trails & Parks | Photography | Other River-Related Links

Boating & Paddling

Boston Duck Tours - You've never toured Boston in anything that comes close to Boston Duck Tours. The fun begins as soon as you board your "duck," an authentic, renovated World War II amphibious landing vehicle.

Charles River Canoe & Kayak - Charles River Canoe and Kayak has three locations on the River: Newton (near the intersection of Routes 30 and 128), Cambridge (at Broad Canal near Kendall Square) and Boston (in the Lower Basin, just upstream of the Eliot Bridge). CRCK offers lessons, rentals and sales.

Newton Yacht Club - A private yacht club that hosts CRWA's water quality notification flags.

Sailing for All - Community Boating (CBI) is a non-profit public sailing, windsurfing and kayaking facility on the Charles River Esplanade. CBI's 10-week Junior Summer Camp Program teaches sailing to juniors ages 10-18 for a nominal fee of one dollar! The club is open from April 1 to October 30, and serves as a host for CRWA's water quality notification flags.

Community Rowing, Inc - Community Rowing is a non-profit, volunteer driven rowing club that provides opportunity for youth and adults of all ages and skill levels to participate in and learn more about rowing. CRI strives to enrich the greater community through its comprehensive rowing opportunities, by introducing avenues for athletic development and personal growth.

Watertown Yacht Club - A private yacht club between the Galen Street and North Beacon Street Bridges that hosts CRWA's water quality notification flags.

Other Sports

Access Sport America - A non-profit organization dedicated to greater function and fitness for children and adults with disabilities through high-challenge sports, including windsurfing and outrigger canoeing. Their Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital site hosts CRWA's water quality notification flags during the summer months.

Cambridge Running Club - This page of the Cambridge Running Club web site provides Charles River Basin area running maps.

Weston Ski Track - The Weston Ski Track is a ski center designed to give people in the Greater Boston area the chance to ski and snowshoe close to home. When there is enough natural snow, 15 kilometers of trail are groomed for skate and classical skiing along the banks of the Charles River.

Charles River Swimming Club, Inc. - Founded in 2005 with the purpose of organizing competitive swimming events and facilitating the return of public river swimming, the Charles River Swimming Club promotes awareness of and celebrates the efforts that went into cleaning up the Charles.

Trails & Parks

Charles River Link Trail, Wellesley - Opened in 2009, the Charles River Link is a 16-mile regional trail along one of the most scenic parts of the Charles and that will eventually provide a connection between the Bay Circuit Trail in Medfield and downtown Boston.

Bay Circuit Trail - Focused on a 200 mile corridor of 50 cities and towns, the Bay Circuit Trail connects the "jewels" of the "emerald necklace" around the Eastern Massachusetts area, linking parks, open spaces and waterways from Plum Island to Kingston Bay.


Eric Endlich Photography - Eric Endlich, an award-winning photographer, has spent countless hours on the Charles River capturing its beauty. His website shows a sampling of his work on the Charles River and beyond.