Sunday, June 23, 2013

Canal Walkway: Lowell, MA

Directions: Click here for Google map

We so often look for rural parks, mountains and other country places to take our dogs, but the Canal Walkway in Lowell is a great urban destination!  The walkway starts just feet from a large parking lot and the National Historic Park Visitor's Center.  It is a well-marked, paved path that runs alongside the Lowell Canal System, featuring unique and interesting historical exhibits along the way.  Similar to Battle Road in Concord, it's like an outdoor museum!

Lowell was developed in the early 19th century as a planned textile mill city, the largest textile center and the first large-scale factory town in America, marking the beginning of the industrial transformation of our country.  Massive five- and six-story brick mills were built along the Merrimack River with a complex six-mile network of power canals driving the waterwheels of 40 buildings.  These canals powered 320,000 spindles and 10,000 looms, allowing over 10,000 workers to find employment in the city.  At the height of production in 1850, the mills were annually producing enough cloth to encircle the earth twice!  

There is so much history to explore in Lowell, such as the engineering of canals, invention of the power loom, stories of the mill girls and their boardinghouse system, the development of immigrant communities, construction of railroad lines, the fortune of a few prominent local families, working conditions of Lowell millhands, products of the mills, and lots more!  

While you will enjoy the beautiful sites of mill buildings, trolleys, trains, the canal, and outdoor educational exhibits, your dog will have lots of fun things to smell and plenty of grass & trees to enjoy.  You can walk the canal in a loop by following the signs along the way or just turn around when you're ready.      

There is A LOT more information about Lowell's history, the park's hours, seasons, maps, tours and directions by clicking here.  

Leashes are required in this urban setting.

Information source: Lowell National Historic Park Service

Here are the positive features:
  • A beautiful and educational walk through history in a fun, urban setting
  • Plenty of free parking in a convenient lot (just get your parking ticket validated at the visitor's center)
  • Restrooms are provided at the visitor's center (and there's also a gift shop)
  • The visitor's center staff is very friendly and helpful
  • The visitor's center appears to be open year-round from 9-5, but you can double check their website before you go
  • There are lots of park benches and grass where you can rest and picnic
  • The paved walkway is good for strollers, but there are some stairs along the way
  • There are trash barrels here and there along the walkway
  • Although the city is bustling, the canal walkway is fairly quiet
  • We didn't notice any bugs, but you might need bug spray at dusk
  • Come back without your pup sometime to enjoy the many downtown museums, restaurants, cafes & shopping
Negative features:
  • No poopy bags are provided, so be sure to bring your own
  • There is no access to the canal's water, which will tease your dog, so be sure to bring some water and a bowl

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