My pal and I took his Savage River canoe from the Chestnut St. put-in at the Needham-Dover line all the way down the river (~11.5 miles) and took out at the Nahanton Park in Newton. River was very full of water, and we believe the current was going through the narrower spots at about 4 mph. There was not much wildlife yet...a pair of Ospreys fishing, and one great blue Heron...but otherwise too many noisy geese, and couple of ducks. We thought about running through the Long Ditch, as the water pouring under the little bridge was going really fast. Ultimately, we bypassed the LD, and took the long way around. We met up with a fellow trying out a new Necky Chatham 16 just downriver of the LD. We discussed things, then tried a little run up the LD (against the current). We couldn't get far, but he rolled a made a wet exit. After we got everything sorted out with that, we continued on. A fun day.
Take Exit 19A of I-95/SR 128 in Needham. At first light turn left. Follow this street to the next light, and turn left again. Drive past Cutler Park, and after crossing over the river, turn left into Nahanton Park. This is the takeout. For the put-in, backtrack to that second light, turn left, and follow this street for ~1.5 miles to another light. Turn right on this Street (Great Plain Avenue) drive about 300 feet and turn left into South St. Follow South street along the river, and fine a put-in near Dedham Avenue, or continue to Chestnut St., turn left, and find another put-in about 1/4 mile down the road on the right.
The Charles River Watershed Association publishes a very detailed, waterproof map of the entire length of the river which can be paddled. It's marked with portages, put-ins, takeouts, rough spots, and obstructions. REI, EMS, Wilderness House, Charles River Canoe & Kayak...all in the Boston area have this map. Cost $10.
River/Creek (Up to Class II)