Many of us are familiar with the Charles River, and if you have been to Boston, you probably have driven over, walked alongside, or simply understand that the Charles divides Boston and Cambridge. But the Upper Charles is another matter. Echo Lake in Hopkinton is the headwaters. But where is it? And how can you see it? One of the newest trails in Hopkinton makes getting views of Echo Lake much easier, and even has a small parking lot to accommodate visitors.
I met John Ritz, of the Hopkinton Trails Club, at the trail head of the Echo Trail on Granite Street. From Rt. 85, I turned onto Granite Street,
then took the first driveway on the left. John tells me that a sign on Granite St. will soon be posted, making it easier for visitors to find the trail.
The overcast sky on the day we walked means the pictures I got weren’t as pretty as I might have hoped, but this simply means I have a great excuse to return again to this well-built trail. The path near the lake is broad, flat, and built on a former railroad right of way, so the walking is easy.
Granite was quarried in the area, and an interpretive sign explains a little of the history of the area’s quarrying activity.
A small bridge built by an Eagle Scout carries travelers from one side of a solid stone culvert to the other. We enjoyed admiring both the bridge work, and the stonework below the bridge, remnants of the railroad that was built in the past.
The lake is visible through the trees, and will be much easier to see from the crushed stone dust trail once the leaves have fallen. Several footpaths lead down to the lake. HOWEVER: Echo Lake, the source of the town of Milford’s water supply, is privately owned by the Milford Water Company. Visitors are not welcome. We walked to the edge of the lake to get a look, and we know local fishermen regularly come to the shores of the lake to fish, but the lake is not available for recreation.
I look forward to visiting this trail again on a brighter day. To look, but not touch this headwaters of the Charles River. Many communities along the river’s path are touched by the “Mighty Charles.” And it all begins in Hopkinton.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then