Paddling in the Stop River Confluence of the Charles River

It has been a long time since I have been in the kayak. Given my current free time, I thought it would it would be a great activity on a beautiful fall day.

I have read that the Stop River Confluence area between Millis and Medfield is a beautiful stretch of the river. It certainly is.  View Map of the Route

I put in at a launching site on Forest Road in Millis.  There is gravel parking lot with space for 5 or 6 cars. It had nice gentle entrance into the Charles.

The weather was beautiful, 70’s and not a cloud in the sky. This section of the Charles is flatwater, with just a gentle current.

This section of the Charles is the largest area of the Natural Valley Storage Project. In 1974 Congress authorized the “Charles River Natural Valley Storage Area,” allowing for the acquisition and permanent protection of 17 scattered wetlands in the middle and upper watershed. final acquisition totaled 8,103 acres, with 3,221 acres of land acquired in fee and 4,882 acres in flood easement, at ta project cost of $8,300,000. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife manages the fish and wildlife resources in some of the Corps’ fee – owned land.

For those of you who are only familiar with the Charles River Basin between Cambridge and Boston, this upper stretch of the Charles River is nothing like the Basin.

The beauty of the Charles
The beauty of the Charles

The river meanders back and forth for miles.  The leaves were changing, so the there were bursts of red and yellow along the banks. This section of the Charles River is mostly through conservation land.  I saw just a few houses along the banks.

There was a road crossing under Route 109 and you could hear a nearby gravel pit churning along. But those were the only signs that you were within 25 miles of downtown Boston.

On one bank was MIllis, on the other Medfield. This area attracted the first settlers of Medfield. The natural hay from the meadows along the river was valuable fodder for their livestock.

At one stretch, the left-hand bank in Millis is owned by a hunting club. I got stared down by a hunting dog. His hunter came strolling along, only to be disappointed to discover a kayaker instead of something to shoot at.

The day’s route ended at a railroad bridge. This railroad bridge is just downstreamof the West Street Bridge between Medfield and Millis. Originally, this section of Millis was part of Medfield. Since the town’s Puritans lived on both sides of the river, they needed a bridge to get back and forth to the weekly meeting. The original bridge was constructed in 1653.  During King Philip’s War, the Native Americans burned the original bridge in 1676.

My bike was waiting for me at the kayak take-out. I took a quick bike ride back to the truck, through the bike in and went back for the kayak.  I snuck in a few miles of bike riding to go along with the paddle.

You can the rest of my paddling trips laid out on a map: Paddling Trips.

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  1. Makes me want to take up kayaking.

    Good thing the hunter wasn’t Dick Cheney.

  2. All of these photos are beautiful, Doug, here and in the posts that precede and follow. I know the Elm Bank area well from land as we walk there (approaching via motorcycle, of course). Thanks for linking these over on my blog…and hi to you and the fam! – j

  3. Thank you for posting such a fascinating account of your travels. I hope you will consider presenting this material at a Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) event, we know of so many people who would enjoy hearing about the seeing your adventures!

    For 44 years CRWA has worked on numerous projects to improve the Charles River and protect the watershed.

    CRWA worked very hard to convince the Army Corp of Engineers that Natural Valley Storage is a better option then their original plan to build levees.

    CRWA also worked very closely with DCR on the beautiful trails that were described that extend from Boston to the edge of Wellesley. We are currently working on extending that trail.

    I hope you noticed all the fish in the river, CRWA introduced 5 million Shad into the river in conjunction with the Fish and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Division of Marine Fisheries. We also mobilized volunteers to help repair fish ladders. A dam that was blocking fish passage was breached due to the efforts of CRWA.

    I would like to let everyone who reads this blog know that Charles River Watershed Association will hold its Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner on November 19th at 5:30pm, at the Newton Marriott Hotel. A timely keynote address, “Designing Sustainable and Resilient Communities,” is being presented by MIT’s Dr. Sarah Slaughter, Coordinator of the Sloan School’s Sustainable Business Laboratory (S-Lab) and Sustainability Initiative. Her extensive work in planning for disaster resilience is of particular relevance, punctuating the importance of CRWA’s vigilance in safe guarding water resources for millions of people.

    CRWA recognizes outstanding environmental leaders, awardees at this year are: Bob Varney, Regional Environmental Protection Agency, State Representative Frank Smizik , Susan Redlich – Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, John Thomas, Beals & Thomas, Jim Healy and Boston Duck Tours and Larry Smith – President and Co-Owner of Charles River Canoe and Kayak,

    Work which we began forty-four years ago at the Charles River Watershed Association has developed over the years with expertise in hydrology, urban water infrastructure planning; environmental engineering; law, community organizing and policy development.

    In these times of climate change, we are moving aggressively forward with the fundamental environmental investigations and investments that will restore Boston and help restore our planet. Our urban restoration team is currently working in Dorchester, Allston/Brighton, Blackstone and Waltham transforming city streets into environmentally-friendly, water-friendly spaces.

    We welcome people from throughout the 35 towns and cities in the watershed to join a packed room of legislators, government and key business and environmental leaders along with river enthusiasts, community advocates and academic specialists for this event.

    Tickets for the Annual Meeting, including a buffet dinner, are $65 for CRWA members and $75 for the general public. To reserve a space, contact Leigh Heffernan at CRWA at 781-788-0007 x231 or, or visit

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