Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts take note: there’s a new recreational resource taking shape in Franklin, MA. Called the Riverbend Hiking Trails, this 40 +/- acre parcel of town-owned land is in the far-northern end of Franklin abutting the Charles River, west of the dam at the Sanford Mill condominiums. With new trails in the planning stages at Riverbend, this preserve holds the exciting promise of opening a significant stretch of the Charles River to recreational uses.
Where to park and access Riverbend
In terms of getting to Riverbend, the good news is that there is ample parking for vehicles. The bad news is that, as of this writing, there is no sign on Lincoln Street marking the location of Riverbend’s vehicle entrance point.
To find the entrance to Riverbend, look for the large metal electric utility towers and the Fairmount Fruit Farm property at 887 Lincoln Street. The Riverbend access drive is on Lincoln Street, opposite from where the landscaping and mulch operations at the Farm are sited. The parking area itself is easy to find; just proceed along the access drive. There is an information kiosk at the trailhead (although it lacked any notices at the time of a recent visit to the site).
Tap/click on the hotlink at right or in the image below to download the trail map for the Riverbend Hiking Trails in Franklin, MA.
Over a mile of trails currently exist at Riverbend. An additional half-mile of additional trails are proposed. (See the dotted lines in the above map.) The new trails would open over a fifteen hundred foot stretch of the Charles’ riverbank to hikers, affording much better views of the water and wildlife. The opportunity to fish or launch canoes/kayaks from the riverbank seems feasible. (Based on tire marks visible on the existing trails, it appears that mountain bikes and/or off-road motorcycles are currently being used at Riverbend.)
Steep descent to river
Part of the proposed trails include a switch-back descending the steep gradient down to the riverbank.
The switchback would be a very helpful improvement over the fairly sharp decline to the Charles River that the current trail entails. (This decent is deceptively steep, so take care walking down the current access trail to the riverbank.)
Video of the Riverbank Hiking Trails
Below is a short video taken during a recent visit to Riverbend:
Views of the Charles River
There is only a limited section of riverbank currently accessible by the existing trail.
Because of the dam downstream at the Sanford Mill condo complex, the river is languid and peaceful.
Cutting through the woods heading east along the shoreline does lead to another open stretch of riverbank.
This section of the riverbank provides a view of the “Swimming Rock” mentioned in publications issued by the Town of Medway concerning Medway’s Amphitheater Trail.
Medway’s Amphitheater property is directly across the Charles from the Riverbend parcel.
Condition of the trails at Riverbend
Riverbend’s existing trails sometime have the look and feel of a work in progress. Some of the trails are broad and well-delineated. Other sections of trail can be hard to discern. (That’s when the trail map comes in handy.)
You get to walk through fragrant pine woods and see old stone walls. Some small areas of the trail were muddy during a recent visit. In planning your visit to Riverbend, insect repellent is a good accessory to pack!
Franklin’s other trail and open-space resources
Given its potential to create opportunities for recreational access to the Charles River, the Riverbend property is a strategic addition to Franklin, Massachusetts’ wonderful array of outdoor recreational resources. Franklin’s investments in open space pays significant dividends in terms of the superb lifestyle town residents enjoy. This is just one of the many reasons to buy a home in Franklin, MA!