Public Access

Expanding public access to the Neponset Watershed and River is an important way to share the beauty of the landscape and grow a coalition of stewards to protect the area.

Our most extensive work has been to increase access along the lower Neponset River and Estuary in Mattapan, Dorchester, Milton, and Quincy.

Strolling the Neponset Greenway in Dorchester, along Neponset Estuary, October 2012. Photo by Tom Palmer.

Neponset River Greenway Trail

The Neponset River Greenway Trail on the Boston and Milton shore of the River is a miles-long, flat, paved, multi-use trail that unites the communities of Dorchester, Hyde Park, Mattapan and Milton, and connects a series of parks and provides an exciting opportunity to appreciate the outdoors in an otherwise urban area.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) owns much of the shoreline, including the abandoned railway line which was transformed into the Greenway trail  from the mouth of the Neponset River Estuary through Pope John Paul II Park (paralleling the trolley line), and onward.

Since Pope John Paul II Park opened in 2001, it has been busy with dogs, kids, kites, joggers, walkers and bikers. The park contains 1/4-mile of the Neponset Trail. The rest of the trail, downstream to Port Norfolk and upstream to the Central Ave. Bridge between Milton and Dorchester, had to be cleared of arsenic-contaminated soil. Arsenic was a key ingredient in an herbicide that railroads used until the EPA banned it in 1980.

Parks and reservations in the Greenway include the Neponset Reservation, Dorchester Shores Reservation, Pope John Paul II Park, Neponset Park, Senator Joseph Finnegan Park, and various parcels of marshland, meadow, hills, and more. Learn more.

View photos of the Neponset Greenway construction.

Quincy RiverWalk Trail

The Watershed Association also opened the 2 mile long Quincy Riverwalk in September of 2014, after many years of negotiations with other Greenway advocates, local politicians, businesses, and land owners.

Expanding public access may take the form of:

  • protecting undeveloped land on the water’s edge from development,
  • building trails and walkways on public land,
  • convincing developers to dedicate their waterfront to “public purposes” such as public walkways and boat launches,
  • educating the public about opportunities for exploring the river watershed,
  • restoring the water flow that has been greatly reduced by wasteful water use,
  • and restoring boating passage by removing or modifying obsolete dams.

Learn more

Learn more by contacting Executive Director, Ian Cooke at 781-575-0354 x305 or