Walking the Northern CanalThe normal operating (open) season for the Northern Canal Walkway is from May 15-October 15. During the operating season, and subject to waterflow and construction limitations, the walkway is open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
During the summer months, visitors can experience one of the great marvels of mid-19th-century American engineering- the Northern Canal. Finished in 1847, the Northern Canal runs along the Merrimack River separated by a 36 foot high granite wall later named the "Great River Wall."
The Northern Canal Walkway (which includes the Great River Wall) provides breathtaking views of the Merrimack River, the canal and the surrounding areas. However, access to the Northern Canal Walkway is only available when the flow rate in the Merrimack River is under 3500 cubic feet per second.
To find out if the Northern Canal Walkway is open, please visit the USGS flowrates page and check the "most recent instantaneous value" towards the bottom of the page. If this value is below 3500 the walkway will be open. (see screenshot of the page below)
USGS Current Conditions Page for the Merrimack River at LowellThis flow rate is indicated at 23,000 cubic feet of water per second (ft3/s) - which is higher than the 3,500 ft3/s maximum for the Northern Canal Walkway to be open, so the walkway would be closed on this day. Ensure that under the section labeled “Select data to graph” that “Discharge, cubic feet per second” is selected. To read the data for the current date, move the indicator to the far right of the chart.
Though the USGS updates flow rates minute by minute, the decision is made to open or close the walkway for the day based on the flow rate at around 9 a.m. each morning.
For any questions, please call us at (978) 970-5000.
Last updated: June 3, 2023