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  Canoeing on the Charles
Canoeing on the Charles

What to Bring

Sneakers   Snacks
Hat   Sunglasses
Watch   Compass
Binoculars   Sunscreen

Plastic bags for



  Directions by car
From Boston, take Storrow Drive west
After passing Harvard Business School
and Harvard Stadium on the left, bear left on Soldiers Field Road – do not cross Eliot Bridge
Park at first or second parking lot on the
  Directions by train/subway
Take the Red Line toward Alewife, getting off at Harvard

Take the #86 bus (Sullivan Square/
Cleveland Circle) to Smith's Playground

Walk across the playground toward
Harvard Stadium to Soldiers Field Road
The green-roofed kiosk is across the road, 100 yards to the right
  Good to know in advance
Open April 30 - October 9 except on rainy days
Hours: Thurs 4pm to 30 minutes before
sunset, Fri 1 pm to 30 minutes before
sunset, Weekends & Holidays 10am to 30 minutes before sunset
To check hours in rainy weather, call (617) 462-2513
Driver's license/ID required
Paddle and PFD provided
Do not harass wildlife (ducks, geese,
tortoises, birds) on and along the Charles
Do not trample vegetation if you land on the river banks

ID Card

Overall rating: Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating
Difficulty: 2/5
  Time from Boston: 15 mins.
  Duration: A few hours

$14 per hour per canoe

  Main activity:


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  Have a question about   this destination?
If you live in or around Boston, the Charles River is the most convenient and rewarding spot for paddling. Canoes are a great way to explore the Charles with family and friends. No reservation or experience is required, and paddles and lifejackets are included.

Whether you want to explore a quieter Charles upstream, or see the city from an unusual vantage point downstream, canoes are a great way to explore the Charles with family and friends. All canoes can hold two adults, and most will also carry an additional adult or two children. You do not need any instruction or experience to go out on the water – that first step might feel unstable, but after a few seconds you will be at ease and eager to start.

When signing up for a canoe, you will get basic instructions on the key rules to obey while on the water. This instruction is in the form of a few written questions – do not worry: everybody passes the exam. Ask if you don’t know the answer!

The friendly staff that runs the operation will answer all your questions and help you with your canoe if this is your first time on the water.

The rental kiosk is conveniently located on the Charles: downstream, towards Boston, are Cambridge and Harvard Square – a great opportunity to paddle under the picturesque Weeks Bridge and see the city from an unusual perspective. Upstream is the wilder part of the river, with narrower portions and a greener landscape. Immediately around the kiosk (particularly on the opposite bank) are shady areas with low branches under which kids invariably want to paddle.

Our suggestion is to rent you canoe for two or three hours: long enough to fully enjoy the experience, and short enough to avoid that unsettled feeling that comes from sitting too long. You can combine this paddling experience with a picnic lunch or barbecue on the grass along the river. You may also bring your bike and take advantage of the bike routes and trails on both sides of the river for a full day outdoors.

When taking off, remember that paddling can become tiring, so make sure you have ample time to come back to the kiosk, and paddle slowly!

Paddling Biking Mountaineering