This route is about 13 miles long.
You can start the trip at any point along the loop. The description below starts from
Bridge Street and heads west. Parking is available on the side streets parallel to Bridge Street. The eastern half of this trip is on the trails described on these two pages of this website:
Bridge Street to Moody Street
Galen Street to Bridge Street
this page for descriptions of shorter walks along part of the same route. Route Map
Charles River loop map by gmap-pedometer.com
View this map online
Directions and Photos
The walk begins in front of this old mill building at the corner of Bridge and California Streets
Walk west on the California Street sidewalk until you reach the trees just past the mill building. Enter the Riverwalk.
Cross the Blue Heron Bridge, which opened in 2004.
When the path ends at Farwell Street, turn left on the sidewalk, cross the bridge, and then cross the street to rejoin the path on the Newton side of the river.
The path on the south side of the river ends at Elm Street.
In December 2015, a new section of the path was completed along the north side of the river, making a direct connection between Elm Street and the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation.
Ignore the arrow on this sign.
Instead, turn right and walk across the bridge.
Looking upstream, you can see the new pathway next to the museum.
As you reach the end of the bridge, look down to see the new path.
Turn right to enter the path.
The path circles underneath the bridge, and comes out onto the walkway next to the museum.
Consider making a visit to the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation.
Continue past the museum and walk through the park to Moody Street.
Refreshments and diversions of all kinds are available if you turn left and cross the Moody Street bridge.
Instead, cross the Charles at the northern end of the Moody Street bridge.
Enter the riverwalk on the far shore.
When the path ends at Prospect Street, turn right and go a few feet to the entrance to Mt. Feake Cemetery, on the left side.
Bear left at each intersection, keeping along the river.
Go straight through two intersections with Swan Street to a “T” intersection. Turn right, then immediately left on Maynard. Follow Maynard past a right turn to another “T” intersection. Turn left.
Approach the cemetery gate.
A pathway goes to the right of the fence.
Turn into the parking lot before the first big building on your left.
Go past several Brandeis University buildings, and continue straight through the next intersection.
Rejoin the Charles, on your left. You are now on Charles River Road.
Turn left onto the sidewalk of (busy) South Street.
Turn left on Norumbega Road.
Pass Norumbega Tower.
The tower is no longer open to the public.
Bear left to avoid the ramp to I-95.
Walk up the stairs at the end of the parking lot.
Cross the bridge and go past the canoe and kayak rental site.
Continue past the Marriott hotel.
Pass the entrance to Norumbega Park. It is along the banks of the Charles, but does not lead to our destination.
Enter Auburndale Park at Islington Road.
Bear left when the path divides.
Continue past the playground.
The path goes back into the woods.
Continue on the road through DCR’s Forest Grove reservation.
Continue straight, crossing Riverview Avenue.
Pass the new DCR boat launch on Woerd Avenue.
A pathway opened in 2006 begins at the end of the boat launch parking lot.
The pathway ends at this parking lot.
Continue along the left edge of the lot, along the river. The blue stripe marks the route.
The pathway resumes for a moment at Prospect Street. Turn left onto Prospect Street, and cross the bridge.
At the far side of the bridge, cross the street and enter the Riverwalk again.
The path approaches the Moody Street bridge.
Enter the path at the north end of the Moody Street bridge, with the Charles on your right. You are heading to the east.
Proceed along the edge of the river; bear left towards the museum.
The path goes below the Elm Street bridge.
The path loops around and goes up to the bridge. Turn left on the bridge, and enter the Riverwalk.
Cross Newton Street and continue on the Riverwalk.
Cross the river on Farwell Street.
Enter the Riverwalk again.
Cross the Blue Heron Bridge.
The path ends on California Street. Continue on the sidewalk to Bridge Street, and turn left onto the bridge, without crossing the street.
Follow the heron footprints on the sidewalk.
Bemis Mill and the remains of the old Bemis Dam
Jack Frost illustration of Bemis Dam
Once you’ve walked over the river, cross the street and enter the Riverwalk.
If you have a much longer trip in mind, you can follow the signs for the East Coast Greenway, which eventually will lead from Maine to Florida.
Bear right onto a dirt path as the trail approaches a swimming pool.
Cross the river from Watertown Square on the Galen Street bridge.
Turn right on the sidewalk of California Street.
Cross a footbridge over Laundry Brook.
Continue along the edge of Forte Park (formerly Allison Park).
Walk past Post 440, the site of the Conservators annual meeting.
Walk along the sidewalk for a while to reach Bridge Street, where the walk began.