The Charles River in South Newton and Boston: Blue Heron Trail to Millennium Park

This 4.3 mile round-trip walk begins and ends at the end of Sawmill Brook Parkway. A 6.5-mile one-way walk from the Charles River to Newton Centre also begins at this location.

Online map

Printable map

Editor’s Note: The Blue Heron Trail along the stretch of the Charles River between Nahanton Park and Millennium Park is in two sections. Unfortunately, the only connection between them, some of which is in the Helen Heyn Riverway Conservation Area, also requires navigating several large parking lots along Wells Avenue, as shown on the DCR map of the area. This walk covers only the southern section.  The Conservators supports action by the City of Newton and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to close this gap, permitting a continuous walk through parkland from Nahanton Park to Millennium Park. Learn more about possible improvements to the Blue Heron Trail.

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 are entering the DCR Charles River Reservation, and will be walking on the Blue Heron Trail.
Blue Heron Trail marker
Go straight ahead. You’ll come back to this spot in a while.
Turn left as the path approaches a soccer field.
Continue straight past two side trails on the right.
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.
Bear right at this junction, marked by some old sewer pipes.
Continue, ignoring all side trails, until you reach the bridge across Sawmill Brook.

Millennium Park

Turn right onto the paved path. You’re now in Boston’s Millennium Park, which has soccer fields, a playground, portable toilets, a nature trail, marshes, and great views.
A marsh is on your right. Herons have been spotted here.
Turn right onto a wide path.
Bear left.
Follow a short spur to the river.
Return to the path, and continue along the riverside.
Turn right to rejoin the paved path.
A short spur leads to a canoe launch.
Continue on the paved path, bearing left onto the sidewalk at a cul-de-sac.
Bear left again on a path that climbs the hill.
Continue straight. The path to the left circles the hill, but never reaches the top.
Take a sharp left onto the path that circles the top of the hill.
Picnic areas ahead.
Downtown Boston is visible in the distance. See how the skyline has changed.
Bear left at a fork.
Turn left when you reach the parking lot.
Walk between the tot lot and the flag pole, and then bear left.
Soccer fields are on your right.
Take a sharp left.
Bear right to keep going downhill.
Take a sharp right.
Leave the park on the bridge. Continue 3/4ths of a mile.
You’ve returned to the starting point.