Cochituate State Park, Massachusetts: A Complete 2023 Guide

Cochituate State Park offers an escape for urban dwellers in the greater Boston area. Bring your family and rent some kayaks to explore the 3 connected lakes of the State Park. There are also some small hiking trails and a child-friendly swimming/picnic area to enjoy. 

Hours and Entrance

The main entrance for Cochituate State Park is 43 Commonwealth Road, Natick, MA 01760. This entrance leads out to the Middle Pond, boat house, and boat launch. However, you will be able to access all three lakes via boat as they are linked through tunnels that go under the highway.

  • Hours: Main entrance/boat ramp is open from dawn to dusk. Check with the boathouse for updated hours.

Parking at Cochituate State Park

Summertime on-season visitors (May 14- Labor Day) will have to pay $8 for Massachusetts residents and $30 for non-Massachusetts residents to park. Resident and non-resident status is determined by the vehicle license plate so be sure to drive with a MA friend for the trip. The parking lot often fills up by noon on summer weekends and once it hits capacity no more people will be allowed in. Arrive early!

You can pay for parking with the Yodel app or the multiple “Pay and Display” kiosks around the parking area.  

  • Tip: To avoid the parking fees purchase a yearly Massachusetts State Parks Parking Pass for $60 or a yearly Senior 62+ Pass for $10 (online only). 
You can park via app or kiosk.

Boating at Cochituate State Park

The Cochituate Lake is deceptively expansive and provides a glimpse of peace away from urban life. Paddle your own boat, rent a kayak from the boat house, or take a group paddle boarding class.

Cochituate State Park has over 625 acres across three ponds. The ponds-North Pond, Middle Pond, and South Pond- are connected by highway tunnels accessible by boat.

Middle Pond (Main Area)

Middle Pond is the central pond at the main entrance and swimming area. There is a limit of 22 mph on Middle Pond, and no motorboat operation is allowed within 150 feet of the swimming area. There is no towing of tubes or people in this pond. I’d recommend paddling away from the swimming area to experience a more tranquil setting. 

North Pond (Resident-only beach)

North Pond contains Wayland Town Beach which is only open to Wayland town resident pass holders. On weekends you must maintain a 5 mph speed and be cautious of resident swimmers. There is no towing allowed in this pond.

South Pond (Towing Friendly Area)

South Pond is the only area where waterskiing and tubing are allowed (as it is the deepest). The limit is 42 mph while actively waterskiing and tubing. Be aware this lake is only accessible through a small 16-foot tunnel that larger motorized boats will not be able to fit through. 

The State Park offers boating rentals

Can I bring my own boat/kayak/canoe?

Yes, there is a concrete boat launch ramp available at the Middle Pond. All three lakes are connected by water tunnels under the roadway.

How do I rent a boat?

You can reserve boats weekdays online through Boating in Boston, or weekends in-person at the Boat House. Arrive early on summer weekends as there may be wait times to rent equipment. Explore the various areas and islands around the reservoir. Prices are acceptable and range from $25-50 for renting paddleboards, kayaks or canoes. 

  • Note that nobody under 16 will be allowed on the water without an 18+ guardian present. 

What can I rent at Cochituate State Park?

Rentals are available for ages 8+ for durations of 1, 2, or 4 hours. You can rent kayaks, canoes, or paddle boards. There are also class options such as a kayak or paddleboard tours. 

  • Life vests must be worn by boaters age 12 and under; and canoeists/kayakers from Sept. 15-May 15.

Cochituate State Park offers beautiful views

Swimming at Cochituate State Park

The Middle Pond is accessible from the Cochituate State Park main entrance and parking lots and is the only pond with a small swimming area. There is a lifeguard swimming section with a sandy beach, lots of picnic areas, and bathroom access. The swimming area can get quite rowdy in the summer months with kids splashing around. Be sure to arrive early to grab a parking spot. 

Is it safe to swim?

The staff at Cochituate State Park do routine water bacteria checks. While swimming has been temporarily closed in past years due to unsafe bacteria levels, unless otherwise stated, the water is safe to swim in.

The lifeguards enforce that no noodles, water floats, or boards are used in the swimming area. Only official floatation devices are permitted. 

Hiking at Cochituate State Park

While Cochituate doesn’t have the abundance of trails that its neighbor Hopkinton State Park does, Snake Brook Trail provides an easy trail just 1.5 miles out and back. Tucked in between Rt 27 and Rt 30, the trail provides an escape from the hustle of nearby city life. The trail starts on N. Main street (Rt 27) and continues all the way to Route 30. To see Lake Cochituate you will have to cross Route 30 and continue on. 

  • Tip: There is no access to the trail from inside the park, instead, the trailhead is right on the Wayland Natick line. Visitors suggest parking at the Starbucks or on Oak Knoll Road since there is no formal parking at the trailhead.

Some visitors have complained that the highway noise distracts them from feeling truly immersed in the forest. However, expect to see a variety of birds, turtles, and evidence of beaver in this urban escape. 

Cochituate State Park has evident of beavers

Picnic spaces

There are many first-come-first-serve shady picnic spaces around the park with charcoal grills. There are also two large fields for field games. If you have a larger event such as a company picnic, or youth group, please email to reserve a space. 

  • Note that alcohol is strictly prohibited and staff has been known to go around and check picnic tables and coolers.

Are dogs allowed at Cochituate State Park?

Cochituate allows leashed dogs on the hiking trails and picnic areas. However, May 14- Labor Day dogs are not allowed on the beach or in the swimming area. For more information visit the DCR Dogs Guide. Be aware while there is a leash requirement, you may encounter many unleashed dogs at the park.

The Wrap-up: Is Cochituate State Park worth it? 

Yes, if you are looking for a day for your kids to play in the water, or to boat, then Cochituate would be a great choice for a quick Boston day away. However, if you are looking for a more tranquil hiking or boating experience, then I’d recommend nearby Hopkinton State Park or Ashland State Park. Both Hopkinton and Ashland are quieter (less traffic noise) and Hopkinton has a larger selection of boat rentals.