Charles River to Newton Centre

Did you know that you can walk from here:

to here:

on a route that is almost entirely through parkland? Read on for details.

This walk is 7 miles long. It takes about 3 hours.

The trip ends in Newton Centre. The starting point is a trailhead near the river at the end of Sawmill Brook Parkway. Options to get to the trailhead include the following:

  • take a taxi or ride-share vehicle
  • if you have two cars available, park one in Newton Centre and drive to the trailhead in the other one.  Retrieve car #2 at the end of your hike.
  • [This option is not possible as of spring 2021, because Route 52 has been cancelled, perhaps permanently.]. The MBTA 52 bus provides limited service to the trailhead. Get off at the corner of Sawmill Brook Pkwy @ Walsh Rd.

A report of a 2010 walk on part of this route


Online map

Printable map

GPS-enabled map of Newton Conservation Areas


The walk begins at the end of Sawmill Brook Parkway in a little-known part of the DCR Upper Charles River Reservation.

Walk to the end of the road. You may want to scan the QR code on the signpost at the trail entrance. It has a link to a very useful GPS-enabled map of your route.
Go straight ahead. You’ll come back to this spot in a while.
You are on the Blue Heron Trail. More about the trail.
Turn left as the path approaches a soccer field.
Continue straight past two side trails on the right. (Taking a right on either one would take you to the Helen Heyn Riverway.)
Bear right at a fork.
Bear right again.
The trail reaches the river.
Enjoy the views up and downstream.
Turn around and return to the woods.
Bear right, up a small hill.
Turn left, and keep walking up the hill.
The Charles is visible to the right. Continue down the other side of the hill.
Go straight through a T intersection, returning on the path you took from the starting point.
Turn right.
Back at the starting point, turn right.
Turn left at this junction, marked by some old sewer pipes.

Brook Farm Historic Site

The path ends at a small parking lot.
Turn left onto the paved road.
The road passes an old Brook Farm building. Continue on the road. You’ve reached the two-mile mark on the route.
When you reach Baker Street, turn right onto the sidewalk.

St. Joseph’s Cemetery

Walk just a few feet on the Baker Street sidewalk, then carefully cross the street and walk up the driveway into St. Joseph’s Cemetery.
Walk up the driveway a few feet, and turn left onto a cemetery road.
The road crosses Sawmill Brook. You’ll be walking along the brook again when you reach the Sawmill Brook Conservation Area.
Continue straight through two intersections, as the road gradually curves to the right. It’s easy to take a wrong turn in the cemetery. This map may help.
Turn left just before a small bridge.
Turn right at the next intersection.
Past a small bridge, the road curves left. Bear left through the next intersection.
Bear right at the next intersection, marked St. John 8.
Where another road enters from the right, turn left onto the grass and walk uphill towards the edge of the cemetery
Enter Sawmill Brook Conservation Area

Sawmill Brook Conservation Area

Bear right and walk up the hill to where trail blazes begin


Follow the blazed trail


Where the trail forks (note the blaze on its side), bear left

Follow the blazes towards a large stone outcropping.

Pass to the left of the outcropping, and then turn right just before you reach the brook.


Walk along the brook for a while until you meet a junction with the path you didn’t take (farther from the brook). Continue straight ahead. The three-mile mark of this hike is along this stretch of trail.


The path skirts the edge of Kesseler Woods. Once the trail system is developed in that land, acquired by the city in 2004, we’ll redo this route to go through Kesseler Woods.
The trail eventually reaches the brook again.
The trail ends at Vine Street. Turn left.
Turn right on Botsford Road.
Turn left on Pond Brook Road.
Cross Brookline Street and continue on Pond Brook.

Kennard Conservation Area

Pond Brook Road ends at the entrance to Kennard Conservation Area.
Walk down the steps, and turn right. You are at Intersection E on the Conservation Commission maps of the area. Note: as of July 2019, the intersection markers have not yet been installed.
You’ll soon come to a four-way intersection, marked as D on city maps. The trail to the right leaves the park. You’ll take the left turn
Ahead on your trail is a tree marked with two red stripes. Cross a small bridge.
After passing through a gap in a stone wall, go straight through another “T” junction, marked as C, where a side trail goes off to your left. You’ve hiked four miles so far.
Follow the red-blazed trail. Pass through a gap in another stone fence, to enter the DCR Lost Pond Reservation.

Lost Pond Reservation

Turn left when the trail reaches a T intersection, with two red markers.
Turn right at the next T intersection. A green disk with a hiker marks the trail.
Turn right on the umarked spur to Lost Pond. Don’t miss this gem.
Enjoy Lost Pond, and then retrace your steps. Turn right on the main trail.
Turn left at the next trail junction, at the kiosk.
Leave the park and walk one block straight ahead along Arlington Road.
Turn right on Heath Street and walk one block to Hammond Pond Parkway. This is the five-mile mark on your route.
Cross the Hammond Pond Parkway, turn left and cross Heath Street, and walk along the sidewalk of Hammond Pond Parkway towards Route 9.
Cross the Route 9 Eastbound frontage road.
Walk under the Route 9 bridge. (Enjoy the sidewalk. A few years ago, you would have had to walk in the road.)
Cross the Route 9 Westbound frontage road.
Continue past the first driveway for The Street at Chestnut Hill. Cross the second driveway, and turn right onto a short sidewalk. Refreshments and rest rooms are available in the shopping center.

Hammond Pond Reservation

As you enter the driveway, turn left into the first parking lot. The woods are now ahead of you, and Hammond Pond is on your right. At the end of the parking lot is a kiosk marking the trail. Enter the DCR Hammond Pond Reservation. If you haven’t already scanned a QR code on one of the trailhead signs, now would be a good time to do it. Open the link to the GPS-enabled map of Conservation Areas.
Walk past the ledge used by local rock climbers.
Bear right at the next fork.

Webster Conservation Area

Just past an intersection marked on a tree with the letter X, you’ll pass an old sign marking the edge of Newton’s Webster Conservation Area. The intersection markers appear on this map of the conservation area.
Cross a small bridge and some boardwalks.
At the next fork, Intersection W, bear left.
Turn left at a T-junction, marked as Intersection Y, onto a narrow trail.
As you near Hammond Pond Parkway, bear right at an unmarked intersection at the top of a small rise.
Turn left at a T-junction, marked as Intersection Z, and continue to the road.
Cross Hammond Pond Parkway with care, and enter the woods at Intersection S.
Bear left at an unmarked intersection where a trail enters from the right.
Turn right at Intersection R. The trail, now marked by blue and orange blazes, passes by Cake Rock. Keep the rock on your right.
Follow the trail through Intersections O and N, as you reach another large rock outcrop, Gooch’s Cave.
At Intersection M, turn left onto the green trail. (The blue/orange/green trail continues straight ahead.)
The green trail ascends a small hill and passes through Intersection L, where the orange trail joins from the right.
Follow the green/orange trail to the dirt road at Intersection K. This is the 6-mile mark on the walk.
The road slopes up to your left. (Don’t go this way.) At the top of the hill is the salt storage facility built by Boston College on the land in Webster Woods it acquired in 2016.
If you still have the energy, take a quick side trip to Bare Pond, a lovely vernal pool. It’s straight ahead about 100 yards. Then return to this dirt road.
Walk down the the dirt road away from the salt storage area. You’re now on Boston College land, which the City of Newton is working to acquire in order to protect it from development.
Walk past a side trail to the left. You may see some green trail markings along the dirt road.
Follow the road to a t-junction, marked as Intersection B. Turn right.
At Intersection C, continue past a trail to the left that leads to the Elgin Street trailhead.
Turn left at Intersection D, to leave the park at Warren Street. The green-blazed trail continues straight ahead, returning in a loop back to Gooch’s Cave.
Walk straight ahead on Warren Street.
Cross Glen Avenue and continue straight ahead.
At the end of Warren Street, turn right on Langley Road. Newton Centre is two blocks ahead.