Sliding Down the Sudbury River

We picked a beautiful summer day to start our exploration of the Sudbury River.

I’ve driven over parts of the river a few times. You have also if you’ve every driven on Route 2 by Emerson Hospital. That’s where the Sudbury River passes under that highway.

We started the day in Lincoln, near the Concord border on route 117. There is a parking area east of Lee’s Bridge and the Sudbury River. The river is easy to see from the bridge, but the parking area is a bit harder. It looks like it’s in the Mount Misery woods.

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From the parking area, there is short haul down to a bay on the river. That bay is a hundred yard long slot that leads out into the Sudbury River itself.

The Boy once again was paddling on his own. We rented a Wilderness Pungo 140 from Charles River Canoe & Kayak. We taped up his thumbs to prevent the blisters he got last time.

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Shortly, we paddled into Fairhaven Bay where the river widens. According to Thoreau’s journal, he accidentally set fire to the woods around Fairhaven Bay in 1844. Far across the bay is a beautiful stone boathouse.

Fairhaven Bay

As you turn the corner out of the bay and head downstream on the river, you will definitely see a huge modern house perched uphill above the left-hand bank. I believe Hassan Ahmed bought the estate in 2009 after leaving Sonus Networks.

The Sudbury River is slow and flat through this section. It would be easy to paddle round trip. With Natascha along, we were able to shuttle cars and only paddle a downstream trip.

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<insert obligatory waterfowl picture.>

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The most unusual sight on the river was this pontoon boat.

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It was a lunch cruise on the Concord River. Martha’s Catering & Concord River Cruises runs the operation out of the South Bridge Boat House.  This is a good spot to rent a canoe or kayak if you want to explore he nearby sections of the Concord, Assabet, or Subbury Rivers.

There were several casual fishermen along the river. Based on the sign below, I hope they were just doing a catch & release.

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At the end of the paddle, we came to Egg Rock, where the Assabet River merges with the Sudbury River to form the Concord River.

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From the merge it was just a short distance to the Old Calf Pasture landing spot on Lowell Road in Concord. This paddling trip was a little bit over five miles.

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Casting Along the Concord River

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The Boy and The Girl ready for paddling

The Concord River forms from the merger of the Assabet River and Sudbury River. The two upstream rivers flow into each other at Egg Rock which is just upstream from the boat launch at Lowell Road.

This is a large boat launch area with room to pull the truck down to the water and drop the big red kayak in the water. We were there on a pleasant, sunny Saturday afternoon. There was a stream of cars pulling in and out unloading canoes and kayaks into the river.

The Boy brought his new fishing rod, hoping to get a fish bite. He wanted to work on his casting skills.

The highlight of the trip is passing under the Old North Bridge. (Actually, it’s a replica of the original bridge.) You get a great view of the bridge and the minuteman statute from the river.

Old North Bridge from the Concord River

This was the spot where the “shot heard round the world” was fired. The minuteman were on one side of the bridge and the British regulars were on the other side.

Most of the right bank of the Concord River is protected land: the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge along the Concord River
Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge along the Concord River

With all of that protected land, there is some great birdwatching. We saw five herons perched along the riverbanks and felled trees in the river. Unlike the Charles River herons, the Concord River herons were nonplussed by the approaching kayak.

Bird Watching on the Concord River
Bird Watching on the Concord River

The Concord River is wide and flat during most of this stretch. It’s wide enough and deep enough for motorboats. There was a jetski buzzing around us. He was a thoughtful rider and slowed to a crawl leaving no wake to upset the kayak.

Broad expanse of the Concord River
Broad expanse of the Concord River

This is supposed to be a great stretch of the river for fishing. We saw several tricked out fishing boats with serious fishermen aboard. Sadly, our fishing was unproductive. I did see a big fish jump out of the water, but that was the closest we got to a fish.

The takeout is at Bartlett’s Landing. There is parking lot for a handful of cars. The landing is a sandy beach just after passing an island in the river. There are several private sandy beaches upstream from the landing.
Bartlett's Landing on the Concord River

The Route:

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July 26, 2014