Photo by Bill Hartigan
Dedham is fortunate to have such a valuable natural and historical resource as the Charles River running through the community. The Charles River flows 80 miles starting at Echo Lake in Hopkinton, through 22 cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts before emptying into Boston Harbor. The Charles River, originally named the Massachusetts River, was founded by explorer Captain John Smith who mapped the coast of New England. King Charles I changed the name of the river to the Charles River after himself.
Dedham’s portion of the Charles offers smooth water with a moderate current. The Water Trail is located entirely in Dedham and is made a loop by Long Ditch, located in Cutler Park. The Water Trail follows the lead of organized hiking trails, by marking the trail with mile markers and signs at launches and at specific historical and ecologically significant locations. Waterproof trail maps are available at launch sites, local shops, and restaurants.
The Dedham Water Trail received grant funding through the Recreational Trails Program. The Recreational Trails Program is a national program through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and administered on the state level by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The Water Trail has also received tremendous support from the community with in kind donations from Hebrew Senior Life, DiMella Shaffer Architects, Legacy Place, L.L. Bean, New Balance, Troop 1 Islington, and Bill Hartigan Photography. Financial donations from the following organizations were critical to the completion of this project: the Dedham Land Trust, Dedham Savings, Whole Foods Market, the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund, and a local family foundation. Special thanks to Dedham’s Department of Public Works and Parks and Recreation Department.