Charles River in Massachusetts
A beautiful August day, about 70 degrees and partly sunny. Perfect kayaking weather. This is a 10 mile trip, so plan on at least 4 hours on the river, and have a car at the take-out in Natick or arrange to be picked up.
There is a nice, easy put-in behind the commercial building just over the Medfield line on Rte. 109 in Millis.
The put-in is in a small cove off the main river channel, so turn left at the end of the cove to head down river. The current is negligible, so you may not even notice it.
A nice float through meadows loud with birds and insects, dozens of turtles sunning themselves on rocks and logs. An occasional great blue heron squawks in protest and wings off at your approach. You'll soon pass under a bridge at Medfield junction, then soon after a railroad bridge on wooden pilings that has openings only wide enough for one kayak at a time.
The river continues through marsh and meadow, skirting the edge of woodland at times. Next landmark is the bridge at Rt. 27 in Medfield, near the old state mental hospital. After the bridge you'll pass under a rusted railroad trestle, and see a smokestack, apparently defunct, off on the right bank a ways.
The river later passes through Rocky Narrows, a Trustees of Reservations property, with some rocky outcroppings and beautiful coniferous trees. There's a beach where you could make a nice quiet lunch stop.
The next landmark is a low concrete bridge on Farm Road in Sherborn. There's a good take-out well graded with gravel downstream to the right of the bridge, which also makes a nice place to stop and stretch, or have something to eat.
The final stretch of the trip, through mostly wooded terrain through Sherborn and South Natick, passes many large, expensive homes, most on the right bank. I spotted a hawk and several cormorants here, as well as mallard ducks. The water was quite low, less than a foot deep in places, so watch out for the submerged rocks! I ran aground on one that was masked by weeds.
Eventually you'll hear the roar of Rte. 16 to the left, and then it will become visible. In the last half mile before you reach the dam, you'll pass under power lines that cross the river (wouldn't want to be there if one broke and fell in!). Don't miss the beautiful statue of a young woman praying, just downstream, on a granite ledge on the right bank.
The final bridge you'll go under is a beautiful double-arched wooden pedestrian bridge that is privately-owned. The river widens even more, and you'll hear the roar of the dam ahead. The take-out is on the right bank in a town picnic area with some tables and a few grills. I suppose if you started early in the morning rather than at mid-day the way I did, this would be an ideal place for an end of the trip picnic.
Well, for me, this is as good as it gets, taking a day off from work mid-week for a solitary paddle. I'll be back, perhaps next time with some friends.
I parked in the lot at the put-in and had no problems. It's privately owned but there didn't seem to be a problem with boaters parking there. There were a few other boaters parked there and a guy told me it's generally not a problem.
Route 27 is a major North to South state road in the western suburbs of Boston. From Route 27 in Medfield, turn onto Route 109 West heading towards Millis. After about a half a mile, you'll cross over the Charles. Take the next right into the parking lot behind the commercial buildings. The put-in is at the right rear of the parking lot--wide, well-graded, easy to access.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)