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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Local Spots to Stand Up and Paddle

There are many places around Boston to try Stand Up Padding (SUP) according to Mark Jacobson, Manager of Charles River Canoe and Kayak (CRCK), which offers five locations for people to launch or rent paddleboards on the river. Jacobson says that newcomers may want to start with CRCK’s Allston/Brighton dock, located on the Charles between the Eliot Bridge and Christian Herter Park. “There are three parking lots nearby, so you don’t have to carry your board very far,” he says. “It’s also a nice place for people to start, because the river’s more narrow and it’s a little bit less windy there.”
“The closer you are to downtown Boston, the more exciting it is,” Jacobson reports. “You get dramatic views of the skyline, and it’s fun to paddle under the Zakim Bridge. It’s more windy and exposed there, however, so it’s not the place I’d recommend to someone going for the first time.” Another option is Walden Pond, he says, where the water is often clear and paddlers can appreciate a whole different view. “Because you’re standing up, you can actually see what’s going on below you and get a better view of fish and whatever’s on the bottom.”
In Newton, CRCK has docks at Nahantan Park and on Commonwealth Avenue near the intersection of Route 128 and the Massachusetts Turnpike. Both are easy to reach and offer free parking, Jacobson says, while Nahantan offers a more natural setting. “Once you get on the river there, you really don’t see houses, because it’s going along the park and it’s a very green, very quiet area.”
Jacobson also recommends Lake Cochituate State Park in Natick, where SUP enthusiasts can launch from the beach or dock. No matter the location, he says, keys to success include finding the right size board, starting out in calmer water and practicing the right way to climb back on the board in case of a spill. Life jackets are also required for this sport, Jacobson adds, because the Coast Guard considers paddleboards to be vessels.
For more information about Charles River Canoe and Kayak locations and offerings, visit
Jacobson reports that the Allston/Brighton location introduced SUP two years ago with two boards. Now, there are nine available for renting. The CRCK location at Kendall Square and the public docks on the Boston side of the river near the esplanade (North Point Park, for example) present more challenging conditions, he says, and some benefits.