Concord River Greenway Park

Visit

51 Davidson Street, Lowell, MA

Maps
Concord River Greenway

Concord River Greenway, construction phases

Concord River Greenway

Greenway location map – on every wayside sign

Access

The Greenway is open to the public for multi-use recreation (no motor vehicles). The Greenway is accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and walkers.

Parking: Parking is available on Davidson Street (across from the Lowell Memorial Auditorium) or at Lawrence Street (near the entrance to the Lowell Cemetery)

Experience the Beauty of Lowell’s Hidden Jewel

The Concord River is a scenic, natural, cultural, and historical resource of national importance. Its natural beauty amid the City of Lowell is like a hidden jewel providing serenity and retreat from our modern lives. The Concord River Greenway Park is a multi-use recreational trail, owned and managed by the City of Lowell.

The Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust has been an active partner in the creation of the Greenway since 2000, providing public outreach and value-added elements such as multi-use signage and public art. This linear park will primarily follow an abandoned railroad right-of-way paralleling the river.

The Greenway – As Part of the Regional Trail Network

The Concord River Greenway will connect the city’s largest open spaces, Shedd Park and Rogers Fort Hill Park, to the center of the city and a network of walkways that have been developed by the City of Lowell and Lowell National Historic Park.

Bar Circuit Trail logo

The Concord River Greenway is also an integral part of the Bay Circuit Trail and Greenway, which is a network of trails around greater Boston, from Duxbury on the South Shore to Plum Island on the North Shore. Stewardship, land protection, and trail maintenance for the Bay Circuit Trail is coordinated by the Bay Circuit Alliance.

Bruce Freeman Rail Trail

A long-term vision for the Greenway is to connect to the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, where it currently ends at a tunnel under Route 3 (CrossPoint Towers). The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail currently extends eight miles from Chelmsford to Westford. Construction is underway to connect the trail through Concord and eventually Framingham (25 miles total)

The project seeks to:

  • Preserve the natural beauty and character of the Concord River

  • Preserve the historic corridor that includes mills, dams, and an arch bridge, and is the famed section of the river that Henry David Thoreau portaged due to its rapids.

  • Provide a safe, viable transportation alternative between Lowell’s neighborhoods and downtown.

  • Provide a missing link in the Bay Circuit Trail, a 200-mile trail from Plum Island to Kingston, and connect to the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail from Lowell to Framingham.

  • Connect Lowell’s largest open spaces, including Rogers Fort Hill Park and Shedd Park, with Lowell Cemetery and the city’s cemeteries.

We invite and encourage your support as we build the Concord River Greenway.

Construction status & additional information can be found below.

Construction Update – 2017

(click on map at left to see detail)

The City of Lowell, the design team at Brown, Richardson and Rowe, and the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust are coordinating efforts to get the remaining sections of the Greenway out to bid in 2017. The design at left shows yellow sections, already constructed and orange sections that are in final design now.  The two orange sections include Phase 3 (most of which is through National Grid property on Perry Street) and Phase 3A which completes the gap between Centennial Island Housing and the end of the Lawrence Street section. Phase 3A will include two new pedestrian bridges and a section on Centennial Island.  Construction will include the installation of three new wayside signs, as well as three new Wopo Holup-designed public art pieces with quotes from authors that have written about the Concord River.

Construction Update – 2015

During 2015 the section of the Greenway between Jollene Dubner Park and the Centennial Island Apartments was built.  This involved extensive clean-up of debris on the river bank and the building of a coffer dam.  City Manager Kevin Murphy and City Councilor Ed Kennedy hosted a ribbon cutting in September 2015 (see photo in Gallery above).

Construction Update – 2010

During the fall of 2009, two sections of the Greenway were completed, including the Davidson and Lawrence Street sections.  This was celebrated during a RiverFest ribbon-cutting celebration on June 12, 2010 (photo at left).

With the completion of these two sections, there have been 2,700 linear feet of path constructed as part of the Greenway so far.  As part of this construction, 53,300 square feet of green space has been created or refurbished.  This includes areas of lawn, rain gardens, and shrub and tree plantings, as well as mulched perennial beds.

 

What are the interesting plants and wildlife that can you see along the Concord River?

Although Lowell has been shaped by centuries of urban land use, the Lowell reach of the Concord River represents a slice of nature in the city.  Highlights include:

  • Extensive stands of river birch (Betula nigra) on small floodplain patches – river birch is a watch list species in Massachusetts;

  • Regular sightings of Great blue heron in the river along Centennial Island ;

  • Several red-tailed hawks around powerlines;

  • A migrating wood duck in the riffles near Centennial Island (see Greenway check-list of birds);

  • Very active dragonflies and damselflies under powerlines;

  • Narrow band of silver maple, white ash, box elder, American elm, and black willow along the river;

  • Very attractive views onto rapids north of Rogers Street – native trees and shrubs, and impressive rock outcrops;

  • Barn swallows, northern rough-winged swallows, and chimney swifts regularly flying above open sections of water below falls – chimney swifts are on the Partners In Flight National Watch List of birds which are in danger of becoming threatened; and

  • River otter activity around Wamesit Falls at Centennial Island.

An observant visitor can find all of this and more on a short stroll up the Concord River.

Public Art on the Concord River Greenway

The Greenway’s public art has been intentionally built into the infrastructure of the Greenway.  You’ll find elements built in for safety (bollards) and fencing that have public art built into them.  During the process of designing the Greenway, we worked with artists Mags Harries and Lajos Heder to develop a conceptual plan for the art, and then conducted a national call for artists to design art for the Greenway that would follow the conceptual plan.  Wopo Holup is the artist for the final design.  Several fabricators have supported the installation of her work, including local artist Jay Hungate.

While you’re out enjoying the scenic vistas over the Concord at the Davidson section (across from the Lowell Memorial Auditorium), you’ll notice two public art pieces, designed by artist Wopo Holup.

  • As you enter the Greenway, you’ll notice four “bird bollards,” three with cast iron native birds sitting on top (see photo gallery above).

  • The long ornamental “text” fence ahead of you includes a 397-character quote by Henry David Thoreau.

When you visit the Lawrence Street end of the Greenway you will find:

  • At the entrance to the parking area, there is a granite stack with a Paul Tsongas quote, and at the top of the recycled granite stack is a carving of swallows, by sculptor Jay Hungate.

  • An additional public art element (Wopo Holup/Jay Hungate carving) will be installed at the foot of a pedestrian bridge (now in design) over the Concord River.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Lowell Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

MCC Grant Logo webpage

 

Additional Resources/Information

Land protection to create the Greenway: LP&CT staff have presented at several national conferences about the complexities of creating the Concord River Greenway, due to its urban location. This article from the River Network‘s River Voices details the challenges of this long-term project, including the various land protection mechanisms used.

Creating multi-lingual signage: Lowell is a diverse, immigrant community.  In creating the Greenway’s signage we chose to translate the signs into three languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and Khmer), based on the neighborhood of the Greenway corridor, as well as the larger community.  Volunteers offered translations so that the Portuguese can be read by both Azorean Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese.  The Khmer translation required addressing different challenges in working with long words and a unique font.

Concord River eco-inventory: To provide a foundation for the design of the Greenway, as well as the integration of the public art and signage, we partnered with Mass Audubon’s Ecological Extension Service to conduct an eco-inventory to understand the natural resources within the Lowell reach of the Concord River.

Land-use History of the Concord River in Lowell:  In addition to conducting the eco-inventory, we also worked with historians to research the history of the Concord River neighborhood. The research project included a series of interviews and oral histories as well as archival research. This provided additional information for the wayside signage and was also condensed to create the following brochure. Additional content and images from this research are included in the history section of “The Greenway as an Outdoor Classroom” website, below.