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Towns in the Mystic River Watershed:

  • Arlington

  • Belmont

  • Boston

  • Burlington

  • Cambridge

  • Chelsea

  • Everett

  • Lexington

  • Malden

  • Medford

  • Melrose

  • Reading

  • Revere

  • Somerville

  • Stoneham

  • Wakefield

  • Watertown

  • Wilmington

  • Winchester

  • Winthrop

  • Woburn

Major Tributaries:
  • Alewife Brook

  • ​Chelsea Creek

  • ​Malden River

Organizations working in the Mystic River Watershed:
  • Aberjona River

Learn more

Environmental Concerns for the Mystic


The Mystic River watershed faces challenges of environmental justice, stormwater pollution, and climate resilience. The Mystic River watershed faces challenges of environmental justice, climate justice, and stormwater pollution (water that runs over paved surfaces and picks up contaminants on its way to the river).




Additional Facts


History: During the 1630s, european colonists began using the Mystic as a launching point for their newly developing ships. Over a hundred years later, during the American Revolution, the Mystic was a source of travel for the British while rowing from Boston to Somerville. Additionally, on June 17, 1775 the British attacked the colonists via the Mystic River beach in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Mystic Massacre (May 26, 1637) Connecticut colonists under Captain John Mason, along with the Narragansett and the Mohefan set fire to the Pequot Fort (which was on the Mystic River) and shot anyone who tried to escape. Between 400 and 700 Pequot civilians were killed. The only Pequot survivors were warriors who were away. Between 22 and 26 colonists suffered casualties and two were confirmed dead. About 40 Narragansett warriors were wounded because the colonists mistook them for Pequots. There were so few Pequots left that the tribe ceased to exist. Did You Know? The Mystic River has an impressive herring run - more than a half million travel the Mystic from the ocean to spawn. You can get involved by joining volunteer herring counts! Learn more >>




Invasive Plants


The biggest invasive species of concern in the Mystic River are water chestnut, eurasian milfoil, and bittersweet.





Mystic River Activities
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Swimming
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Walk, Hike, Bike
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Paddling
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Boating & Sailing
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Fishing
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Swimming

 

It is safe to swim in the Mystic Lakes, although it is not safe up to 48 hours after a storm. Many areas of the Mystic Watershed are not safe to swim in due to high levels of bacteria. To check daily safety, click here

 

Swimming locations:

  • Reservoir Beach (Arlington). Open from 10 am to 7:30pm June 11 to August 24 with lifeguards on duty and two picnic areas. The water is both filtered and chlorinated. Click here to purchase season swim passes. Click here to purchase a day pass. Parking available at 250 Lowell St.

    • Directions: Take the Red Line all the way to Alewife, then catch the 62 bus headed for Bedford, MA. Get off at Mass Ave at Paul Revere Road. It’s a 10 minute walk.

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Walk, Hike, Bike

 

Walking, hiking, biking locations: 

 

  • Torbert Macdonald State Park (Medford). State park with a picnic area and paved trails, good for biking and walking. Free parking​.

  • Medford Dog Park (Medford). This is a fenced-in, off-leash dog park that overlooks the Mystic River.

  • Station Landing Park (Medford) Paved paths along the Mystic.

  • Mystic River Path (Medford). This path travels alongside Upper Mystic Lake, breaks off while next to Lower Mystic Lake, and then restarts for around a mile along the Mystic.

  • Sylvester Baxter Riverfront Park (Somerville). This park includes trails, a boardwalk and a playground alongside the Mystic River.

  • Mary O'Malley Park (Chelsea). This park provides views of the Boston Skyline and the Tobin Bridge. There are tennis courts, playgrounds, bathrooms, parking, and paved paths. 

  • Rivergreen Park (Everett) Part of the larger Malden River Greenway, this park offers riverfront access and a 0.5 mile walking trail.  

 

Other parks without trails: 

Mystic River Recreation Map >>

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Paddling

 

See the Mystic River Recreation Map for many paddling locations >>

 

Paddling locations:

  • Shannon Beach (Winchester)

  • Bacow Sailing Pavilion (Medford). This boathouse belongs to the Tufts' sailing team but it is open to the public.​

    • 481 Mystic Valley Pkwy

    • 12 parking spots. No fee. 

    • Directions >>

  • Medford Boat Club (Arlington). To use this facility, you must be a member (click here to apply). There is a deep water swim dock that is staffed by Red Cross Lifeguards, a sandy beach, a fishing dock, umbrella tables, a shady grove for picnicking, and a snack bar. The club also offers sailing lessons for different skill levels.

    • Mystic Valley Parkway (public entrance)

    • There are 8 parking spots and no fee.

    • Directions >>

  • Fisherman’s Boat Ramp (Medford). Access to Upper Mystic Lake.

    • Directions: North of Rt 60 in Medford. Look for the Medford Boat Club and Fisherman’s Boat access sign.

  • Mystic River Rd & Harvard Ave (Medford). Grassy banks, unload and then park near courts on Harvard Ave

  • Next to Mystic Riverbend Park and near Hormel Stadium (Medford) has a canoe launch and parking. 

  • Blessing of the Bay (Somerville) is run by Paddle Boston. Canoe and kayak rentals are available. Click here to reserve a boat. There is walk-in access to the water. Paddle Boston also offers shuttled river trips (click here for more information). 

  • Schrafft Center (Charlestown) near Sullivan Square. Offers public boat mooring and parking, no trailer access. River is tidal here with large ships, use caution. 

  • Little Mystic Access Area (Charlestown). Grassy area with boat ramp, be careful for tidal rips under bridge.

  • Gentle Giant Rowing Club (Somerville). This club is a non-for-profit that provides opportunities to learn and practice rowing on the Mystic. See membership rates >>

    • Location: 23 Shore Dr​ive.

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Boating & Sailing

 

There are many places to canoe, kayak, paddleboard, or even row on the Mystic River! For paddling put-ins, click on here.

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Fishing

 

There is a fish advisory for the Lower Mystic (saltwater section) warning children under 12 or pregnant women to avoid consuming fish from that area. Everyone else can consume the bluefish and striped bass ONLY. Other fish are contaminated with PCBs, Chlordane, DDT. More info >>

Fish caught in the freshwater sections of the Mystic are generally safe to consume. 

Fishing locations: 

Upper Mystic (upstream of Amelia Earhart Dam) - fishing is catch and release only!

  • Draw Seven State Park (Somerville). Public fishing pier.

  • Mary O'Malley Park (Chelsea) Public fishing pier. 

Mystic River Recreation Map >>