Charles River

Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, Waltham, Newton, Weston, Needham, Wellesley, Dover

DCR's Charles River Reservation is a linear park stretching from Boston Harbor up the river for 20 miles. The lower half of the reservation, from downtown Boston to the Watertown Dam, is the Charles River Basin , which includes the Esplanade on the Boston side. The basin abuts the campuses of MIT, Boston University and Harvard. The Upper Charles River section of the Reservation begins at Watertown Square and meanders to Riverdale Park in West Roxbury.

The Reservation has many recreational opportunities for urban dwellers. Whether your interest is walking or birdwatching, canoeing or in-line skating, the Charles River is a wonderful resource.

Charles River Dam

The Charles River Dam maintains the water level in the river basin at a fixed elevation. Completed in 1978, it replaced the original dam built in 1910. It houses six pumps that drain the river into the harbor when rain or melting snow would otherwise overflow the river’s banks. The dam’s three locks permits recreational craft to travel from the river to the harbor year round; a fish ladder allows for passage of anadromous fish (alewife, blueback herring, rainbow smelt and shad) during the migration season in late spring.

Map and Brochures

These electronic maps are intended for general reference only.

View on screen: Charles River Basin Link to the image file. | Upper Charles East Link to the image file. | Upper Charles West Link to the image file.

Download as printable: Charles River Basin pdf format of Charles River Basin Map
| Upper Charles East pdf format of Upper Charles East Map
| Upper Charles West pdf format of Upper Charles West Map

The publications listed below are all in pdf format and require the use of free Adobe Reader.

Trail map for Cutler Park Reservation pdf format of Cutler Park Reservation Trail Map
(Needham, Dedham)

Wildflowers near the Charles River pdf format of Wildflowers near the Charles River
along the Greenway Path in Watertown, Newton and Waltham. An identification guide for walkers, by Carole Smith Berney and Patsy Murray.


All parks and facilities are open dawn to dusk, except where otherwise stated.

Athletic Fields
Permits pdf format of Athletic Field Scheduling Request
are required for all use of athletic fields unless otherwise noted. Please address all requests in writing to DCR Athletic Fields Reservations, 4 Woodland Road, Stoneham, MA 02180. (617) 727-4708

Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields at Lederman Park, Boston: Baseball, football, softball
Daly Recreation Center, Nonantum Road, Brighton: Football, softball (lighted)
Magazine Beach Field, Memorial Drive, Cambridge: Football, Little League, Softball

Bike/Running Paths

Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path, Approx. 18 mile loop from Science Park to Watertown Square

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The Charles River Reservation stretches along both banks of the river from downtown Boston to Riverdale Park in West Roxbury.

For events at DCR's Hatch Shell: The Hatch Shell is located on the East End of Storrow Drive, not far from the Mass General Hospital.

By public transport: Take any MBTA Red Line train to the Charles Street/MGH station. Take the footbridge over Storrow Drive to the Charles River side and go West along Storrow Drive. The Hatch Shell is a short walk from here. Alternatively, take any Green Line train to the Arlington Street Station. Walk along the Public Garden/Arlington Street to Beacon Street. Cross over Beacon Street and take the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge over Storrow Drive to the Hatch Shell.
More Directions