Charles River Path – Galen Street


The Riverwalk features vestiges of one of the oldest dams on the Charles River, with remains of raceways built by David Bemis in 1778, and scenic views of the Charles River. The path from Galen Street in Watertown Square, improved by the MDC in 1998, offers scenic overlooks, a fish ladder at Watertown Dam, falls, fishing areas, and boat launches.

Forte Park, formerly Allison Park, features a soccer field, basketball courts, children’s playground, and restrooms. On summer evenings, herons roost on the Charles River bank next to the park.


Size: About 1 mile long    Longest Walk: 2 mile loop    Acquired: 1960



Get here by MBTA: Many bus lines end on Galen Street at Watertown Square

Other maps and aerial photos: Bing Maps bird’s-eye view

Connects to: Charles River Path: Bridge Street to Moody Street

Trail Map

Charles River Path Galen to Bridge Street
Click map for larger image

GPS Enabled Trail Map

Access City of Newton GIS Map

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Owner & Administrator Websites

Photo Gallery

First three photos shown here. Click a photo to view the complete slideshow or click here to browse the complete gallery.



The first dam on the Charles was built in Watertown.


David Bemis bought 37 acres surrounding the river.


Bemis Mill and Millrace built.


Raceway built by David Bemis on 1/2 acre.


Rolling stone dam built


Breached rolling stone dam built to power textile mills owned by the Bemis family on both sides of the river.


Aetna Textile Mill Building constructed.


Dam breached.


MDC was persuaded not to rebuild dam and to leave the breach as a passage for anadromous fish to lay eggs upstream, the fry returning to the ocean.


Riverwalk built from Galen Street to Bridge Street.


Accessible Trails, Biking, Birding, Boat Launch, Charles River Walk, Cross Country Skiing, Historic Site, Picnic Tables, Playground, Scenic View, Sports Fields, Woods Trail

Additional Information

Newton Assessor’s Map ID: [many separate parcels]

Walks and Maps:

Walks along the Charles

DCR website and map

This park is part of Walk 25 in the book, WalkBoston

More about the Blue Heron Trail

General Descriptions:

The Charles River Greenway at 30, by Richard Primack

Let the Charles River Run Free: The Case for Removing the Watertown Dam

Essay by Alison Leary


Boston Globe article

Wildflowers Near the Charles River

Forte Park is a small city park on this route.


Bemis Dam

Discover Historic Nonantum brochure

Newton Patch: More than “Dirty Water”: The History of the Charles River in Newton

Watertown Dam

Government agency information:

1975 Charles River Pathway Plan

1998 Upper Charles River Master Plan

2003 Upper Charles River Reservation project update

US Environmental Protection Agency


The Charles River in the 1970s



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