Boston Kayaker

Kayaking on Charles River - above Maple Street Dam in Bellingham MA

Rating: Two-and-a-Half Stars - The upper reaches of the Charles River on this stretch is seldom seen by man and the first time recorded on photos and published in the internet here by the Boston Kayaker. The launch is on a muddy bank where your feet will sink to your knees. Other than that, the I never have to get out of my kayak again for the 3 hours+ or so that I paddled upriver under I-495 tunnels and past High Street bridge.
There was a tree blocking the Charles River north of I-495. My kayak can slide under with an inch of clearance. So I slid forward into my kayak until my head is on my seat and I cleared the tree.
Continuing upriver, many shallow spots where I have to back off and go to another side. Big plate-sized turtles I see on rocks and on the side of my kayak on the water just below the surface.

  Put in beside dam at Maple
  Street in Bellingham MA.
Paddle upriver to I-495
  then under.
Continue past High Street
  bridge and return.
Estimated round trip
  distance = 7+ miles
  Charles River marshes can
  be shallow in the summer.
I-495 usually passable
Maple Street Pond
  Dam - breached
Box Pond Dam

Disclaimer: It is your responsibility to determine the legality, suitability and safety of this route for yourself.

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Kayaking on Charles River - above Maple Street Dam in Bellingham MA

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Number of original photos on this page : 107
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At Maple Street in Bellingham MA. Trip date is June 2015.
The access to the Charles River is on this unmarked dirt road off Maple Street.

A short walk from the parking area to the dam.
Portage of 100+ feet required.

The breached Maple Street Pond Dam on the Charles River in Bellingham MA.
Also known as North Bellingham Dam.
Water is flowing from right to left in this picture.

The muddy bank beside the dam serves as the informal launch to the Charles River above the North Bellingham Dam.

The Boston Kayaker just launched on the Charles River above the Maple Street Dam (North Bellingham Dam).
My feet sank knee-deep launching and broke my rubber slippers in the process.

Paddling upriver southwards on the Charles River.

The Charles River cuts a clear path thru the marshes at this area.

Tree-lined banks are short and far in between here.

Now crossing past the power lines.

With forks like this, I watched for the one with the greater flow (on the left).

Water level here is about 8+ inches.

A downed tree blocking the Charles River.

There is enough clearance for the kayak to glide under . . .
Which means I can slide forward inside my kayak to clear under.

Just got under and repositioned to sitting position.

Continuing on upstream on the Charles River past the downed tree.

With all the river bends, you can not see that far into this river.

Another tree lying on the Charles River.
This one a few inches below so I have to slide over.

Now I can see the northbound side of I-495.

The I-495 tunnels on the Charles River in Bellingham MA.
Whenever faced with the choice of 3 culverts/tunnels, always pick the middle one!

Inside theI-495 tunnel on the Charles River just emerging from the north-bound culverts and now directly under the median.
The middle part of this tunnel has no culverts supporting traffic that is why I can see another set of 3 culverts supporting the south-bound I-495 lanes.

Now past and south of the I-495 over the Charles River.

A busy beaver on Charles River.

Close up of beaver on Charles River.

The clear path of the Charles River is about 2 feet wide and the rest is a swampy marsh that is hard to paddle over.

Staying on the left where the water is clearly running.

The High Street bridge over the Charles River in Bellingham MA.

On the right just before the High Street bridge is a clearing that can be a potential access (north west side).

Now south of the High Street bridge. Coninuing upriver paddle.

The river is becoming monotonous and I am getting tired.
At this point, I decided to turn around and start my paddle back.

Just turned around, now facing and paddling downstream on the Charles River.

Notice the underwater grasses now pointing in the same direction where I am doing (downstream that is).

Sometimes, there is this swampy patch in between clear river paths.

Approaching the High Street bridge from the south.

Passing under the High Street bridge on the Charles River.

Approaching the I-495 tunnels on the Charles River from the south.

I took the middle tunnel earlier, so I will take the same tunnel on the way back.

About to emerge out of the I-495 tunnel on the north side.

Here is that same downed tree I have to slide under . . .

This is the only house on this stretch of the Charles River.

I can now see the breached Maple Street Pond Dam.

Tried landing on the rocky breached portion of the dam to see if there is an easier alternative to the knee-deep mud I launched from earlier.

No luck, will take that same muddy landing.

Muddy landing.

I was on the waters of Charles River for 2 hours and 40 minutes.