Outside the Home Range: A Walk on the Charles in Watertown
Changing the tires from winter to summer versions means two hours of exploration time near Direct Tire in Watertown. With the local coffee shops less appealing, and a cloudy but warm early spring afternoon enticing the Owl, it was time to head out to the Charles River Reservation.
The Charles River Reservation stretches twenty mles along the Charles River, but this article is not about the part with which you might be most familiar. This is not the Esplanade, dear readers, with the Eliot Bridge and sporty college squads rowing by. No, this is the oft-forgotten part of the Charles where turtles sun alongside a bit of garbage, and the fish ladder in Watertown quiety spills over without a single spectator.
This part of the Charles River Reservation is six linear miles long–so specified because the Charles begins a bit of a meander which is called the “Lakes District.” Anyone who has traveled to a Lakes District in the old country will find this a tiny bit funny. Yet hopeful. The pathway stretches west from Galen Street in Watertown to Commonwealth Avenue in Newton/Weston, with a number of footbridges dotted along the way and a few truck-laden bridges as well.
A combination of packed dirt, asphalt and wood surfaces are all pleasant. The Owl was passed by runners, bicyclists, parents withmstrollers and a few cell-phone-gripping fast walkers. Most seemed out for exercise rather than pausing to hear the water spill, the red-winged blackbirds, a few chickadees, or to spy a painted turtle trying vainly for a sunbath on the cloudy day.
In addition, some of the old buildings such as an old art deco community pool were worth a stop-and-ponder. New apartment buildings and older wooden houses lie just beyond the greenway and the whole area had a feeling of neighborhood and community.
A father and daughter fed the Canadian geese at the foot of a beautiful foot bridge, and at other coves, wooden benches and platforms enticed a reader or two. According to signs, the greenway was recuperated in the period from 1990 and 2007, and much of the green areas was purposefully planted and not just fate. On this early spring day, there was not much in the way of “green” on the greenway, and the flotsam and jetsam of winter trash were caught on the river banks. And yet, so much beauty already lies along the river–the Owl will be back this summer for a look-see.
The Owl highly recommends a walk on this path–and suggests that perhaps a picnic lunch on the riverside or a step out into the surrounding Waltham and Watertown commercial areas might net you a taco or two (shop local!). Mobility-challenged walkers will have found a perfect place to stretch their legs.
As most Weston readers know, our town sprang from Watertown as a farmer’s precinct in 1698 and then as its own entity in 1712-1713 (depending on Gregorian calendar). Arguably, therefore, this is not outside home range, but instead, a bit like going home.
Parking is available on side streets around Galen Street in Watertown and Watertown Square, and listed on the Reservation’s site here.