Visiting a Friend, and Looking for a River–the Upper Neponset River, that is

Upper Neponset, next to Walpole town forest

Upper Neponset, next to Walpole town forest

This past week was a time of visiting rivers. I was taking my own advice for finding fantastic nearby foliage and hunting along waterways first to find some great spots to enjoy the colorful foliage season as it begins to show its colors. After visiting the Charles River along various trails, then capturing views along the Blackstone River, I was ready to head in a different direction.

Since my friend Mary’s birthday was last Friday, and knowing she lives right around the corner from a portion of the Upper Neponset River, I combined trips.

Brian, of Brian's Country Greenery, Rt. 140 Bellingham, MA

Brian, of Brian’s Country Greenery, Rt. 140 Bellingham, MA

First stop, Brian’s Country Greenery on Rt. 140 in Bellingham (near the corner of Blackstone Street)  for some beautiful birthday flowers,

Mary enjoying her birthday flowers

Mary enjoying her birthday flowers

then on to Mary’s for a relaxing visit.

Afterwards, it was time to seek out the hidden Neponset.

I was hoping for some fall foliage along the river, but discovered that the Walpole-Norwood area was behind the Blackstone valley when hunting out fall foliage. Ah well, a reason to return soon! My first stop was the Walpole Town Forest on South Street.

Bridge over the Neponset, Walpole town Forest

Bridge over the Neponset, Walpole town Forest

The river is visible right next to the parking area, so I wandered over to the bridge and spotted some trees just beginning to change. We’d just had a good-sized storm the day before, and in fact, this outing was undertaken in a light rain. The river was flowing well, adding to the beauty of the surroundings.

Neponset, just off Washington Street, E. Walpole, next to Hollingsworth and Vose parking lot

Neponset, just off Washington Street, E. Walpole, next to Hollingsworth and Vose parking lot

Next stop was on Washington Street in E. Walpole, to the Hollingsworth and Vose company parking lot. I found limited views of the Neponset at the edge of several parking lots on this outing. I poked around some, hoping no one objected to my walking on the edge of their parking lot, but it was difficult to get very clear views of the river.

After lunch in Norwood (“To Beirut,” next door and run by the same folks of Cedar Market, across from the Norwood town common) I headed back south on Rt. 1A. I caught glimpses of water, and apartments that were called, “Neponset View.” Marshy areas behind several businesses are probably portions of the Neponset, but there was only one spot that might have offered me a good view, and there was no signage, just an unlabeled turnoff. Another visit, perhaps.

A friend mentioned that the Neponset flowed behind the Episcopal Church in Walpole center, so I headed that direction. I spotted the river as I drove on West Street, beside Epiphany Episcopal Church.

Neponset, behind Epiphany Episcopal Church, Walpole center

Neponset, behind Epiphany Episcopal Church, Walpole center

The river does, indeed, flow directly behind the church, but it is obscured by a chain link fence covered with Virginia creeper. I poked around the parking lot on the opposite bank of the river from the church, avoided the lush poison ivy growing on the edge of the parking lot, and got some views of the river quietly flowing virtually through the middle of Walpole Center, unnoticed.

Neponset along Rt. 1A

Neponset along Rt. 1A

The Upper Neponset showed itself once more, on Rt. 1A heading out of Walpole Center.

A sign! The Neponset river

A sign! The Neponset river

At this spot there was in fact a sign labeling the river, but it is mostly obscured by foliage. A pretty spot, but not ideal for sustained viewing–the traffic on Rt. 1A is pretty heavy.

It was only a week or two ago that I found walking trails along the Neponset Reservoir in Foxboro,

Neponset Reservoir, Lane Conservation area, Foxboro, MA

Neponset Reservoir, Lane Family Conservation area, Foxboro, MA

so I am learning about this river system. But in many ways it feels somewhat typical of the  hard-working rivers of this area–put to use for industrial purposes, polluted with industrial waste so the community turned its back on the river, and now deeply hidden behind undergrowth, retail stores, and even pavement.

Searching out glimpses of the Upper Neponset was a pleasure, but there were few spots I could send folks to that would make for an enjoyable extended tromp. I know this was true for the Upper Charles until a few years ago, the Blackstone as well. Maybe someone needs to write a book…


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.


Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

4 responses to “Visiting a Friend, and Looking for a River–the Upper Neponset River, that is

  1. Mary Chitty

    great post. reminds me of the green manifesto book. love mg

    Mary Chitty MSLS Pharmaceutical & Health Technologies Division Past Chair 2014 Library Director & Taxonomist cell 617 861 7410 work 781 972 5416 Cambridge Healthtech, Needham MA

    • marjorie561

      Ah, well, things are changing, I hope. I didn’t include the marshy place the Neponset flows, behind the local Stop & Shop–really hidden back there. It appears to be more visible for some folks whose yards front alongside it. But there appears to be so little awareness of it’s presence as something to enjoy.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Marjorie! A very nice walk along the Lower Neponset River can be found on the Neponset River Greenway at Pope John Paul II Park in Dorchester or along the RiverWalk in Quincy, beginning at either Squantum Point Park or Adams Inn. More here:…/lower-neponset-river-trail.html

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