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Charles River Link Trail
CRLink WTC web.jpg
Charles River in Dover, Massachusetts

Trail Description
The Charles River Link is a 16-mile regional trail along one of the most scenic parts of the Charles and that will eventually provide a connection between the Bay Circuit Trail in Medfield and downtown Boston. This diverse and spectacular suburban trail, opened in June of 2009, connects 26 open space jewels in six towns - Newton, Wellesley, Needham, Natick, Dover and Medfield.

CRL line map layer2a 200dpi.jpgThe trail starts along the future extension of the Upper Charles River Reservation trail at the Mary Hunnewell Fyffe Footbridge located near the intersection of I-95/Rt-128 and Rt-16 in Newton.  

For the first 7 miles the Charles River Link is part of the Wellesley Trails network.  It follows the Charles River Path along the river, through the Wellesley Town Forest, and past Longfellow Pond. When reaching the Sudbury Aqueduct, it follows the Sudbury Path along the aqueduct through Babson and Olin Colleges to the Waban Arches.  It then connects to the Guernsey Path, which runs along the Charles River to the Needham town line.  

In Needham the Charles River Link crosses the Charles into Dover at the Charles River Street bridge. It follows roads to Pegan Lane and takes trails in Pegan Hill Reservation where there are views of Nobscot Hill, Mt. Wachusett, and Mt. Monadnock. After taking a trail through Mumford Wildlife Forest, it takes roads to Glen Street and follows trails through Peters Reservation to the Charles River.  The trail continues through Chase Woodlands and follows roads to the Dover-Sherborn Regional High School.  It enters the Medfield State Forest in back of the school and takes trails to and along the Charles River to a steep bluff overlooking Rocky Narrows, known as the "Gates of the Charles."

The trail continues along the Charles River in Medfield to the Charles River Gateway overlook at the Medfield State Hospital, runs along an old woods road, and ends at Hospital Road where it intersects with the Bay Circuit Trail.

Trail Guide & Maps

Before hiking the Charles River Link, please read the trail guide for information about parking, trail usage restrictions, distances and stops for scenic attractions.   Two online versions of the trail guide are available - normal and printable booklet. Also, see our Google Map for trail route, trailheads, parking, and directions.

Trail Guide & Maps
Trail Guide - Trail description and maps (rev 5, July 2016)*
3.6 MB
Printable 5.5"x 8.5" 8-page booklet Trail Guide (rev 5, July 2016)**
3.6 MB
View the trail on Google Maps - street and satellite trail maps, and locations for trailheads and parking..

* Revision 5:  Major trail reroute over top of Pegan Hill and minor text updates from rev 4.
** For a compact booklet, use landscape, two-sided printing (if manual, no rotation) on 8.5"x11" paper.  Fold in half and staple together along the fold.


Downloadable Data
GPS Data: GPX file, waypoints and mileages (rev 5, July 2016)
126 KB
Shapefile:  Line, point, and metadata (rev 5, July 2016)
81 KB

Contact with any comments or questions.

Trail Development

Trail Dedication on National Trails Day 2009

Development of the Charles River Link was a partnership between the Wellesley Trails Committee, the Bay Circuit Alliance, the Appalachian Mountain Club and the towns the trail traverses.

The trail was first proposed in the fall of 2002 by the Wellesley Trails Committee to the Bay Circuit Alliance as a linkage to surrounding communities. Goals for the trail were to provide trail along one of the most scenic parts of the Charles River, a linkage between open space and conservation reservations along the river, and eventually a connection between the Bay Circuit Trail and downtown Boston.  Trail access was evaluated, on-road walking was minimized and connection of conservation lands was maximized, and by the spring of 2003 a feasible trail route was developed. The Natick Trails Committee and the Dover Open Space Committee joined in helping to develop a workable route.

In the fall of 2003 a trek was led by the Wellesley and Natick Trails Committees along the proposed Charles River Link route to demonstrate feasibility and introduce the trail to the public.  The trek attracted 43 participants in support of the trail from 15 towns.  

On the day after Thanksgiving, 2003, the Friends of Medfield Forest and Trails, Dover Open Space Committee, and Bay Circuit Alliance sponsored guided walks along the Charles through the Medfield State Hospital to emphasize the importance of preserving open space and trail access with the impending sale of the hospital property. Over 100 residents from surrounding towns participated in the walks.     

Although we tried to use existing trails, completion of the Charles River Link required clearing new trails through Peters Reservation, Mumford Wildlife Forest and Medfield State Forest.  A total of 1.5 miles of new trails were developed under Appalachian Mountain Club trail projects that resulted in the final trail being 68% off-road.   Fifty-eight volunteers from the Appalachian Mountain Club, Bay Circuit Alliance, Natick Trails, Dover Open Space, Wellesley Trails, New England Forestry Foundation, The Trustees of Reservations, TrailWrights, Boy Scouts and local residents spent a total of 198 volunteer-hours working on our trail projects. We appreciate their commitment and hard work that helped made this trail a reality.

Late in 2008 final access agreements were completed, and the trail was dedicated on National Trails Day, June 6, 2009, followed by a 16-mile trek with 31 hikers from 15 towns.

Last updated:  6/20/17

Wellesley Town Hall  525 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482
Phone: (781) 431-1019
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