Charles - 2. Waltham Wave

Charles, Massachusetts, US


2. Waltham Wave

Usual Difficulty II (for normal flows)
Length 0.1 Miles
Avg. Gradient 10 fpm
Max Gradient 40 fpm

Waltham Wave at Medium Level.

Waltham Wave at Medium Level.
Photo of Owen, Mike and Michael working hard after work!!! by Ed Bagdonas

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01104500 450 - 2000 cfs II 00h23m 1040 cfs (running)

River Description

The Waltham Wave on the Charles River is a popular play spot located close to downtown Boston. Best levels are found in the spring and sometimes in the fall. Created by the granite block Bleechery Dam, the wave is available approximately 17 days a year when the flow of the Charles is over 1000 cfs.

Park-and-play all day, or just hit the river after work. The wave when up gives great opportunities to surf and spin, but is generally to shallow for bunts and loops. The best features are on river right and left, and there is room to roll, but be warned, it is shallow. If you fall off the wave there is a river right seam where you can get back on the wave, but its a workout

The area downstream of the dam was cleaned of shopping carts, tires, chairs and other urban junk in August of 2006 by Owen Curtin and Ed Bagdonas in coordination with DCR. There is no rebar, or other hazards other than being shallow and occasional rocks.

Technical info

Put in elevation........?'
Take out elevation......same
Total drop..............2'
Average drop/mile.......?'
Distance................0.01 miles
River width average.....?'
River geology...........tbd
River water quality.....tbd.
Wildlife................Local clubs and bars.


Gas/Convenience Stores..Many in area..
Nearest Restrooms.......Shaws supermarket next to the river.
Camping.................None, but lots of hotels..

Regional Weather

Go here for a NOAA weather forecast.


Note that the directions below are to the Shaws parking lot on river left. You can also put in on river right 20 yards from the the DCR Charles Riverway (footpath) start; there are even steps there.

Take out - about a hundred yards down from the dam on river right. About a hundred yards up from the dam is a foot bridge - an easy walk.

From the West

Follow Route 20 (off 128) east to route 60; go to next light on route 20, take a right to River street (parallal to route 20) Shaws is straight ahead. Put in behind and slightly upstream of the supermarket where the tall fence ends.

From the South

Take the Pike to Newton Corner exit, head west on Washington Street, turn right on Walnut street, turn right on North street, go over the river and left at the first light. Turn into Shaws and park/put-in behind and slightly upstream of the supermarket.

Shaws Address

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-06-11 17:24:24


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0River Right Put-InPutin Access Photo
0.1Take-OutTakeout Access Photo

Rapid Descriptions

River Right Put-In

River Right Put-In

River Right Put-In
Photo by Laurie

The favorite put-in is 20 yards from the start of the DCR Charles Riverway footpath.


Downstream Take-out

Downstream Take-out
Photo by Ed

Take-out about a hundred yards downstream, there is a footbridge nearby.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 8 2017 (591 days ago)
Scott MDetails
Definitely surfable around 1100 CFS. Access is fine at both the put-in and take-out. Looks like it
may hold a day or two after a heavy rain.
April 28 2012 (2398 days ago)
Wylie FisherDetails
I just boated this today and though it says it was too low (482 cfs), it is definitely boatable.
You will bump into some rocks, but if you just have to get on the river, this is not a bad level.

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