RiverFest Event Types
Event #1, Route 20 boat launch, Wayland
Saturday, July 8, 9:00 am
Travel in time as you paddle with Brian Donahue, Brandeis University history professor and expert on the Sudbury River. Paddle to Sherman’s Bridge through the wide meadows that prompted the founding of Wayland and Sudbury and hear stories of a fascinating and sometimes lurid past. Meet at the Rte. 20 Sudbury River boat launch. Bring your canoe/kayak and life jacket (required). Cars will be available at Sherman’s Bridge Rd. to ferry you back. For more information: 508-358-2980.
Please Note: Because of recent rain, the river is high. Be prepared to unload your boat and then park you car at the nearby shopping center parking lot.
Location: Route 20 boat launch, Wayland
Event #2, Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Natural History of the Sudbury River Walk
Sunday, July 9, 10:00 am
Please note the time change to 10am. Registration is not required but appreciated.
Enjoy the wonderful vistas of the meandering Sudbury River at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge with Neela de Zoysa, botanist and instructor at the Native Plant Trust. Be introduced to the glacial sculpting of Weir Hill and the Native American history of the location. Learn about the floodplain trees, swamps of buttonbush and red maple, ferns, graminoids, and other herbaceous species. The location has great observation platforms, and boardwalks for examining plants. Bring a pack lunch to enjoy after the 2-hour walk. Meet in the refuge at 73 Weir Hill Rd.
Above Photo: Courtesy L.Phu/US FWS Weir Hill, GMNWR
Location: Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Event #3, Wright Woods, Concord
Wright Woods Walk
Sunday, July 16, 10:00 am
This event is full and registration has been closed.
Join Rachel Wheeler and John Myers for a guided loop walk in the Concord Land Conservation Trust’s Wright Woods beginning at the Fairhaven Bay Overlook and exploring the trails along Well Meadow and the Sudbury River. This 300 acre woodland is located between Fairhaven Bay and Walden Pond. In addition to appreciating local flora and beaver activity, you will learn about the history of the property, the stone terraces and boathouse, and the family that loved and preserved these woods. The 2-hour walk will cover approximately 2 miles of moderate terrain.
Rachel Wheeler is the great-niece of Helen Robinson Wright, who began donating parcels of land within Wright Woods in 1959 and was instrumental in the creation of the Concord Land Conservation Trust. Rachel and her husband John Myers continue to live on the property at Staples Camp. They intimately know the woods and shores of Wright Woods. To walk and experience this remarkable place with them will be a unique treat.
Location: Wright Woods, Concord
Event #4, Fairhaven Bay
Fairhaven Bay Nature Paddle
Saturday, July 22, 10:00 am
This event is currently full. If you register, you will be added to a waiting list.
Join Lincoln Conservation Ranger Will Leona on a leisurely 2-hour paddle along the scenic Sudbury River. Enjoy a brief history of the area and be on the lookout for local wildlife along the way. Sightings may include great blue herons, beaver lodges and dams, belted kingfishers, Canada geese, white-tailed deer, bald eagles, painted turtles and more. Also learn about invasive aquatic plant management efforts being done in the area. Bring your kayak/canoe and life jacket (required), sunscreen, clothing/footwear that can get wet, a snack to eat during a short stop and water.
Location: Fairhaven Bay
Event #5, North Billerica
Walk with Thoreau Along the Middlesex Canal
Middlesex Canal Association
Sunday, July 23, 10:00 am
Space is limited. Registration by July 21 required.
Join experienced guide Marlies Henderson for a 3-hour exploration of extant portions of the Middlesex Canal, from the Billerica Falls to River Neck Road, Chelmsford, and back, reading passages from Henry David Thoreau’s Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. High boots recommended.
Location: North Billerica
Event #6, N. Billerica
Paddle the Concord River
Sunday, July 23, 2:00 pm
Space is limited. Registration by July 21 is required.
Enjoy this 3-hour easy flatwater paddle, with leader Marlies Henderson, from just below the Billerica Falls toward the Lowell Centennial dam. Bring your own canoe/kayak and life jacket (required).
Location: N. Billerica
Event #7, Heard Farm, Wayland
Photo Walk at Heard Farm
Wednesday, July 26, 6:00 pm
This event is full and registration is closed.
Join Wayland photographer Henrik Broekman for a stroll around the 86-acre Heard Farm Conservation Area. Woods, open fields, wetlands, over 200 species of birds, and the Sudbury River shoreline make Heard Farm a remarkable place with over three miles of trails, many of them old cart paths. Hendrik will provide tips for successful photography with your camera/phone. All ages and abilities are welcome Space is limited, so please register .
Location: Heard Farm, Wayland
Event #8, Central St. Bridge over Saxonville Falls & Dam
Sunday, July 30, 2:00 pm
Registration is appreciated but not required.
Join the Framingham History Center for an immersive 75-minute walking tour of Saxonville as we explore the rich tapestry of its history, land, and waterways. This tour will shed light on the business, social, and civic life of this vibrant neighborhood while also delving into the natural features and waterways that helped shape this historic community and that of Framingham. Central St. Bridge over the Saxonville Falls and Dam (across from the Saxonville Mills).
Above Photo: Courtesy of the Framingham History Center
Location: Central St. Bridge over Saxonville Falls & Dam
Event #9, Old Manse, Concord
Stories, Dance, Art, and History at the Old Manse
Saturday, August 5, 10:00 am
Come to the riverbank by foot, or paddle, bring a picnic, and enjoy a day of entertainment at the historic Old Manse at 269 Monument St. Rain or shine.
Saturday, August 5, 10:00 am
Join or watch talented artists as they paint “En Plein Air” (French for painting outdoors) on the grounds of the Old Manse. Learn how painters ply their craft, ask questions and revel in the magic. For more information, contact .
Saturday, August 5, 10:00 am
Join instructor Ashley Nichols for a gentle hour of relaxing yoga on the lawn of the Old Manse with views of the river. This class is welcome to all ages and levels. Please bring your own mat or towel to use along with water and any other props you wish to use. No pre-sign up required so please just show up as you are. Namaste.5
Saturday, August 5, 10:30 am
An elementary school class goes to a butterfly sanctuary and learns about these beautiful pollinators. After the storytime, you will make butterflies out of recycled materials.
Saturday, August 5, 11:00 am
Meet a Park Ranger at the benches by the North Bridge for this 30 minute program. Learn about the momentous battle at Concord’s North Bridge, where the British Army suffered its first casualties of the war, and the legacy of this event in American History.
Saturday, August 5, 11:30 am
Create your own turtle, make a colorful journal, and more environmentally friendly art projects.
Saturday, August 5, 12:30 pm
Native Americans and early settlers used the rivers, in 1775 the American Revolution began along our rivers, and famous authors were inspired to write about our rivers. Join us for a storytime and activity.
This is one of our Junior River Ranger programs, designed for children 6-12. Explore and learn about our rivers with us or on your own and complete the Junior River Ranger Booklet to earn a Junior River Rangers badge and certificate.
Saturday, August 5, 1:45 pm
Encore Dance Ensemble returns to perform original works demonstrating life-long learning and personal fulfillment through the art of dance. The Riverfest performance includes the following themes: life milestones, love. Joy, and appreciation of the natural world.
Saturday, August 5, 3:00 pm
Ron McAdow’s readings and commentary will show why “Literature” is considered one of the unique properties of the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers. Henry Thoreau’s writing is foremost, but Emerson, Hawthorne, and lesser known authors have embedded our rivers in America’s literary culture.
Ron authored guidebooks to principal rivers in eastern Massachusetts. The Concord, Sudbury, and Assabet Rivers was published in 1990. His recent books are guides: Imagining the Past at Mount Misery and Concord Village. His unique edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature was released in the fall of 2022.
In addition to being a author of books and guides, filmmaker, and educator, Ron served for ten years as Executive Director of Sudbury Valley Trustees, a regional conservation non-profit.
Saturday, August 5, 4:00 pm
Join Margie Coffin Brown for a guided walk through the Buttrick Gardens. Initially constructed in 1910 by the Buttrick family and conveyed to the National Park Service in the 1960s, the historic gardens and adjacent meadows contain an array of mid-summer pollinator plants. Learn more about plant characteristics and appeal to bees, butterflies, birds, and other species. Bring binoculars and we will have some to share. For more information, call 617 620 2942. Meet in front of the North Bridge Visitor Center (174 Liberty St.)
Location: Old Manse, Concord
Event #10, Foss Farm, Carlisle
Carlisle Trail Walk
Sunday, August 13, 1:00 pm
Enjoy a 3.5 mile walk (~3 hours) through meadows and forests on trails paralleling the Concord River, starting at the Foss Farm conservation land and passing through Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge and the O’Rourke farm on the way to scenic Greenough Pond in the Greenough conservation land. Be prepared for wet conditions underfoot, bring drinking water and insect repellent. Light refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the walk. Dogs are not permitted in the Refuge. Meet at the Foss Farm parking lot, 0.3 mi west of the Concord River bridge on Rte. 225. For information, email leader Alan Ankers at .
Location: Foss Farm, Carlisle
Come, connect, and experience your local Wild and Scenic Rivers! A RiverFest Summer!
Enjoy free hikes, paddles, walks, music, and family fun all summer long in this annual celebration of the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Wild and Scenic River. Explore all the rivers have to offer, just west of Boston!
Be a Junior River Ranger this Summer!
Through hands-on activities, learn how special our Wild & Scenic Rivers are and how you can help protect them. Join one, or all, of our fun hands-on Junior River Ranger events, listed with a river ranger badge, to receive a River Rangers booklet. Complete the booklet with us or through your own explorations to earn a Junior River Ranger badge and certificate. If you can’t join us, email or call 617-981-2116 to have your free booklet mailed to you. Or download a pdf version of the booklet from the link below. Designed for kids 6-12.
- What Is Your Watershed Address?
- Recreating On Our Rivers
- Family Fishing & Festivities at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
- Stories, Dance, Art, and History at the Old Manse