|Continuous public pathways take visitors
along the banks of the river
The Upper Charles River Reservation
extends from the Watertown dam to Riverdale Park
in West Roxbury. Throughout the reservation, continuous public
pathways take visitors along the banks of the river, winding
through the communities of Watertown, Waltham, Newton and Weston.
The reservation links the Upper Charles and its surrounding
communities with the Boston and Cambridge pathway system, and,
by restoring native plants to the river’s banks, has
encouraged a return of local birds and wildlife.
The easterly stretch from Watertown Square to Prospect Street
in Waltham is a narrow winding body of water bordered by a
ribbon of lush vegetation. Dams and arching bridges regularly
punctuate this corridor. The westerly stretch, the “Lakes
District,” is characterized by broad and placid water,
undulating forested shorelines, small islands, and a series
of intimate coves created by the damming of the river at Moody
Street in Waltham.
The Lakes District, hidden in a densely populated region,
preserves a natural and wild quality. Visitors can see a variety
of bird and animal life: great blue heron, black-crowned
night heron, mallard ducks, mergansers, cormorants, kingfishers,
warblers, sparrows, swallows, woodpeckers, muskrats, rabbits,
raccoons, mice, painted and snapping turtles, snakes and frogs.
|A tree swallow, one of the many varieties
of birds to be found in the Upper Charles Reservation
The banks of the Upper Charles River Reservation were the
primary focus of the first park land acquisitions of the Metropolitan
Park Commission (the forerunner of the DCR). Historic parks
such as Hemlock Gorge, Riverside, and Norumbega were created
in the early 1900s, and soon became the most popular recreation
sites in metropolitan Boston.
Riverside and Norumbega Parks were eventually closed in the
early 1960s, following considerable pollution of the river,
but from the 1970s an increased public appreciation of environmental
issues led to a clean up of the river’s water quality
and its banks; five new riverside parks were opened in the
1980s in conjunction with local towns.
A six mile section of the Upper Charles, from Watertown Square
to Commonwealth Avenue in Newton and Weston, has been restored
as a self-sustaining natural environment. A continuous pedestrian
pathway now links the Upper Charles and its surrounding communities
with the Charles River pathway system in Cambridge and Boston.