Charles River Watershed Association's Water Quality Page.
Detailed River & Facility Information at our Boston Location
Charles River Canoe & Kayak’s Boston location, on Soldier’s Field Road in Allston/Brighton, is a unique location for your outing! We’re just minutes from downtown Boston, have plenty of free parking, and can accommodate large groups.
Like all our locations, we offer group discounts during non-peak hours to groups renting eight boats or more. If you’re renting fewer than eight boats, just come down — it’s rare that we run out of boats. During our peak hours, reservations require pre-payment of the first hour of rental and an additional reservation fee.
What to Expect on the Water
Our location in Boston is on the upper Charles River Basin, on a nine-mile stretch of flatwater between the Watertown Dam and the Charles River Dam/Boston Harbor Locks. There is no current on this stretch of river. Our Boston location is just upstream of Harvard University. The river is mostly surrounded by green space, with roads on both sides of the river a short distance away. Rowing shells and powerboats are common.
Upstream of our rental kiosk the river is lined by trees and parkland. The river passes the Northeastern and Community Rowing Boathouses and the Watertown Yacht Club. Downstream, the river passes Harvard (including the Weeks Footbridge, above) and begins to slowly widen. About 2.5 miles from our kiosk, paddlers reach the B.U. Bridge and the open Lower Basin. Beyond this point, wonderful views of the Prudential and Hancock Buildings, Boston University, MIT, and the State House Dome await.
Where to Stop While Paddling
There are a number of locations where paddlers on this section of river can stop to eat, rest, or walk. Most of the riverbank upstream to the Northeastern Boathouse and downstream to Harvard is parkland with a gravelly or rocky bank, and paddlers can scramble out of their boats in many spots.
Just upstream of the B.U. Bridge, the state-owned Magazine Beach in Cambridge offers an easy pull-out at a gravel beach, playing fields, and a small playground. From here through the Esplanade, the riverbank on the Boston side is often rocky and may be easy or difficult to access depending on the location, boat, and paddler. There are public docks at the Esplanade which are high and may be difficult to access. Much of the Cambridge side of the river downstream of the B.U. Bridge is an inaccessible vertical wall.
One-Way Trips to Kendall Square
Paddlers can enjoy one-way trips to or from our Kendall Square location, a five-mile trip featuring the best skyline view in Boston. Groups of eight boats or more who plan to paddle one-way must notify us when arranging your reservation.
Our Facility in Boston
Our Boston location is surrounded by a large strip of parkland. Immediately adjacent to our kiosk, there is a picnic area, playing fields, and the Charles River bike path. A quarter-mile upstream there is a large playground and kiddie pool.
In our picnic area at the kiosk we have nine picnic tables; each table can accommodate eight adults. We have plenty of room to accommodate large groups, and would be happy to arrange additional banquet tables if necessary. We also have a small number of pop-up tents; each one can accommodate one picnic table. Groups wishing to reserve the tables or tents are welcome to do so according to the following fee schedule. Rates are per two-hour period.
While no eateries are located within easy walking distance of our Boston location, there are a large number of restaurants within two miles including Bruegger’s and Subway on Western Ave and many restaurants in Harvard Square.
Paddling and food are a great combination — view our favorite restaurants and caterers nearby. We are happy to arrange catering for your event.
Paddling Safety Information
|Tent & Table Reservation Fees per Two-Hour Period|
|Picnic Table (6-8 adults)||$10|
|Banquet Table (up to 10 adults, requires chairs)||$10|
|Chair (one per adult)||$2|
|Tent, 10' x 10' (one picnic or banquet table)||$20|
Charles River Canoe & Kayak's Boston rental facility is located at 1071 Soldier's Field Road in Boston's Allston/Brighton neighborhood. There is free parking, including bus parking, available: three small lots are located near our kiosk, and a large lot is 1/4-mile farther out Soldier's Field Road. Click here for complete directions!
Video by Interlock Media.
In Cooperation with Mass. DCR
Our Boston location operates in cooperation with the Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation & Recreation.