Looking for an easy place to SUP, kayak, or canoe near Boston? Try Cochituate State Park, located just 10 minutes from nearby Framingham, Mass. The park’s centerpiece is three linked ponds—called North, Middle and South lakes—which together form sprawling Lake Cochituate. The abundant flatwater and gorgeous green shorelines make it a perfect place to learn how to paddle, go for a swim, or cast a line—all within an hour’s drive of Beantown.
Lake Cochituate was created in 1863 as a result of the Lake Cochituate Dam. The lake was then connected to the 14-mile Cochituate Aqueduct, which provided the city’s first major water supply system. Then, in 1951 it was replaced by the larger Wachusett and Quabbin Reservoir supplies. Fittingly, the dam is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (look for its former aqueduct gatehouse on the lake’s east side).
Today, the historic lake is primarily a recreation destination. And there, too, it’s been well utilized for years. “We’ve used Cochituate for our sea kayak tune-up event for more than 15 years,” says Jeff Barrell of local paddling club AMC Boston Paddlers. “The water in Cochituate warms up faster than the ocean,” he explains, which makes it perfect for practicing rescues. (Want to get involved? The club hosts paddling socials at the park throughout the summer.)
To get to Cochituate State Park from Boston, take Interstate 90 West to Exit 117. Then take Cochituate Road going east. You’ll see the parking area on your right just before the road crosses back over the highway.