Secret amazing family boating spot near Boston (or, how we went canoeing this weekend and had a blast)

We decided to try to go boating on the spur-of-the-moment this weekend, and found a fantastic spot so I of course have to share. We went to the Middlesex Fells, where we’ve been plenty of times to go hiking, but haven’t explored the Stoneham side at Spot Pond much so didn’t know that you could rent boats there, much less that there are islands! We rented a canoe but they have rowboats, kayaks, and sailboats available too.

The Spot Pond Boating Center is operated by Boating In Boston – they also have a bunch of other locations around the area but I’ve never been to any. Life jackets were included in the boat rental and they had plenty of child-sized Coast Guard Approved ones, so that was great. They also had oars for kids too – one of our kids had a blast learning to paddle!

child canoeing and holding a canoe paddle

Holding the paddle the wrong way but working on it and having fun!

There are three islands on Spot Pond. One of them, Bold Point, has a small sandy beach-like area, so you can actually pull up your boat, tie it off, and go walk around the island, which is pretty amazing. One of the Boating In Boston employees told us that there had once been a group of people living on the island (illegally), who were removed, so it’s a big privilege that people can still go explore the place.

The water was calm and it was very peaceful – we saw other boaters (including fishermen, to the delight of my children), but you felt like you were out on your own. It was easy rowing – this would be a good spot to go to if it was your (or your children’s) first time in a boat. With the canoe, two adults can sit in the seats at either end and paddle and kids can just sit inside the boat in the middle and enjoy the view if they’d like!

Given that it’s part of the larger Middlesex Fells, which stretches across several towns, there are plenty of hiking trails nearby which end up connecting to the boat launch. Here’s a link to the official trail map for the Middlesex Fells – below is a cropped screenshot with Bold Point and the Boating Center circled, but you’re much better off looking at the real map.

Spot Pond map including islands and boating center

Logistics of boating at Spot Pond:

Driving: Set your GPS to go to the intersection of Pond Street and Fellsway East (or the Lynn Fells Parkway). You can then drive west on Pond Street and turn left on Woodland Road to reach the boating center. I attempted to draw red arrows on this route, below:Parking and directions for the Spot Pond Boating Center

Parking: There is parking at the boating place, or you can park in one of the other lots and have a nice walk in the woods over to the boat rentals.

Bathrooms: There are two port-a-potties at the back of the parking lot at the boating place. Both were pretty clean (for port-a-potties).

Pricing: Here’s the link to the Boating In Boston boat rental prices. I don’t really have anything to compare it to, so if someone things these are terrible or great prices, please do comment on this blog post! It was $25/hour to rent our canoe (which says 2-3 people but is fine for 2 adults plus kids) – rowboats are cheaper but seemed more unwieldy, and we weren’t really up for the kayaks. You can row around all of the islands in an hour if you don’t stop to get out at Bold Point or do too much drifting around.

All in all, a good day outdoors for the family!

View from the canoe at Spot Pond

Land Ho!



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