Detailed River & Facility Information at Nahanton Park in Newton
Charles River Canoe & Kayak in Nahanton Park is a superb location for your outing! We’re just off Route 128, and we have 12 miles of flatwater surrounded by forest and marsh to enjoy.
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 Nahanton Park is on one of the longest uninterrupted stretches of flatwater on the Charles River. Paddlers can enjoy calm paddling from upstream of Dedham Ave in Needham to Silk Mill Dam at Newton Upper Falls. Almost all the shoreline is forest or marsh, and much of it is protected parkland.
Video by Interlock Media.
The first two miles upstream of Nahanton Park, you’ll pass Cutler Park, Millennium Park, and the Charles River Reservation. After Cow Island Pond and a couple more miles of open river, the Charles begins to wind extensively. In the middle of the meanders, you’ll pass through small Motley Pond at the Noble & Greenough School. The meanders end about eight miles from our dock, and the flatwater continues (with increased current) for two to three more miles.
Downstream of our dock the river runs through a more suburban environment for two miles to Hemlock Gorge Park and Silk Mill Dam (an extremely dangerous low-head dam that should not be approached).
There is abundant wildlife along the river, including herons (blue and green), egrets, otters, turtles, cormorants, muskrats, geese, and ducks. There is almost no powerboat traffic on this section of river.
The current in this stretch of river is generally mild, so round trips are easy. At scheduled times we also offer Shuttled River Trips, where we drop boats and paddlers upstream for a beautiful one-way paddle back to our dock.
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. Downstream you can stop at beautiful Hemlock Gorge (view trail map) on the left immediately after Elliot St. Be sure to avoid Silk Mill Dam, an extremely dangerous low-head dam just downstream of the takeout that should not be approached.
Upstream your first stopping point is Cutler Park along the right bank. You can land at a concrete abutment and access hiking trails that explore Kendrick Pond, Powell’s Island, and Kennedy Farm (view trail map).
Most of the riverbank along our Nahanton Park section is forested, perfect for kayaking and canoeing! Across from Cutler Park is Boston’s Millenium Park. There is a canoe launch where you can land to access walking paths, playing fields, and a picnic area (view park map).
On the left shore of Cow Island Pond you’ll find sandy Havey Beach. Just beyond, grassy Riverdale Park on the right bank is a great place to picnic or stretch your legs; there are also restaurants nearby.
Paddling Safety Information
Our Facility in Nahanton Park
A paved, accessible walking path begins Our facility at Nahanton Park includes a picnic area and function room. just outside our door. Just a short walk through the woods, there is a soccer/baseball field that is often used by Newton youth sports.
Outside our Rental Center there are picnic tables with a water view available for public use. Contact us to reserve the picnic area, The maximum capacity for the picnic area is 50 people. Larger groups may want to consider a boat delivery to Auburndale Park.
Nearby Restaurants & Catering
While no eateries are located within easy walking distance of Nahanton Park, there are a large number of restaurants within three miles. Just off I-95/Rt. 128 exit 19A there are a number of restaurants on Needham Street in Newton. Slightly farther away there is an excellent variety of restaurants near the intersection of Highland Ave and Great Plain Ave in Needham Center.
If you are interested in paddling to a restaurant, take out at Riverdale Park two miles upstream from our dock and visit Riverside Pizza or the Waterfords Restaurant & Pub just across the street (remember that boating and drinking don't mix!).
Paddling and food are a great combination — view our favorite local restaurants and caterers. We are happy to arrange catering for your event.