Logo   Walden Pond, Concord MA Travel Guide
Until Henry David Thoreau wrote "Walden, or Life in the Woods," Walden Pond was just another deep, chill kettle pond scooped from the New England countryside by glaciers. Now it's a favorite swimming, fishing and walking destination.

Fisherman, Walden Pond, Concord MA
Fishing at Walden...

Solar-powered parking pass machine, Walden Pond, Concord MA
Solar-powered parking pass machine, Walden Pond...



Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan

Walden Pond is a 400-acre (162-hectare) state reservation offering hiking trails, swimming, fishing and historical sights (map).

The Visitor Center is a Net Zero, LEED-Certified ecological building with its own solar carport for electricity generation, electric vehicle charging stations, even solar-powered parking pass machines.

Walden Pond Visitor Center, Concord MA
The new, ecological Walden Pond Visitor Center.

Walk Around the Pond

It's one of the most famous and popular state parks in Massachusetts. At all times of year people come to follow the 1.5-mile (2.4-km) trail around the pond and to visit the site of Thoreau's little house. The walk all the way around the pond takes about one hour at a comfortable pace, less if you walk briskly and don't linger at the site of Thoreau's house too long.


In summer, visitors from Boston and beyond come to swim in its cool water and take the sun on its few narrow sand public beaches. There's a boat ramp for launching your boat, canoe or kayak. Internal combustion motors are not allowed, only quiet electric motors.

Fires, alcoholic beverages and dogs are prohibited in Walden Pond State Reservation at all times.

Walden Pond has unique ecology and geology as a 103-foot- (31-meter)-deep kettle-hole glacial pond. More...

Access to the Park

The state park's parking lots—the only legal parking available within a mile of the pondcosts $8 per carload for Massachusetts residents, $15 per carload for others, in summer. Hours of operation change with the seasons, but it generally opens at or soon after dawn, and closes around sunset.

When the lots are full, the pond has reached its full visitor capacity, the parking lots are closed, cars are turned away, and no drop-off or walk-in visitors are allowed.

This is to guard against pollution of the pond by the throng of visitors. (As it is, the chemistry of the pond's water is already being changed by the presence of so many bodies in it.)

On any hot day in summer—especially weekends and holidays—this means the pond will reach full capacity and be closed by mid-morning at the latest. You may have to wait for the afternoon before it re-opens.

Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau, a school teacher, surveyor, pencil-maker, writer, folk philosopher and social critic, moved from Concord to Walden in 1845 and lived here in a simple one-room cabin for two years, two months and two days. During his stay he basically founded the study known as ecology.

His observations of plants, animals, the passing seasons and his naturalist philosophy were published as Walden, or Life in the Woods, in 1854. Over the years, his life and work have come to exemplify living in harmony with nature.

Thoreau's philosophy derived from the Transcendental philosophy of his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, who in fact provided the land (part of his firewood lot at Walden) for Thoreau's little house. In essence, Thoreau lived a life that Emerson, because of his eminence and family ties, could not. More...

The replica of Thoreau's house (photo) is next to the parking lot, near the path down to the pond. The actual site of Thoreau's original house is a 15-minute walk around the pond, marked by granite posts (photo) (map). In previous years it was marked by a cairn built up by Thoreau pilgrims who left stones in commemoration of their visits.

Getting to Walden Pond

Walden Pond State Reservation, open all year, is near the intersection of MA Routes 2 and 126 (map), a 30- to 40-minute walk south of Monument Square.

The beach and circumambulation path are free, so if you walk or bicycle from Monument Square in Concord to Walden as Thoreau did (1.8 miles/2.9 km, 30 to 40 minutes' walk, each way), you can enjoy the pond at no cost.

You can walk from the center of Concord to Walden Pond along Walden Street (1.3 miles, 2.1 km, 20 to 25 minutes) or, more historically accurate, you can follow the Emerson - Thoreau Amble, a re-creation of the footpath Emerson and Thoreau may have followed on their strolls to the pond. More...

If you come to Concord by train from Boston, you will actually pass right by Walden Pond: look for it on the right side of the train a few minutes before arriving at the Concord Center station.

If you're driving or bicycling, from Monument Square in Concord Center, follow Main Street south and turn left onto Walden Street at the first intersection (map). Follow Walden Street (Route 126) for two miles (3 km), cross a major highway (MA Route 2), and look for the Walden Pond State Reservation parking lot entrance on the left a short distance farther along. The pond is on your right, on the opposite side of the road from the parking lot. (Photos)

Walden Pond State Reservation
915 Walden Street (MA Route 62)(map)
Concord MA 01742
Tel: 978-369-3254

Geology & Ecology of Walden Pond

Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau's House Site

Thoreau's Birthplace

Photo Essay: Walden in Winter

Ralph Waldo Emerson


A Walking Tour of Concord

Sightseeing Map of Concord

What to See & Do in Concord

About Concord

  Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Walden Pond, Concord MA

Walden Pond in Concord MA.

Swimming beach
The swimming beach at Walden Pond.

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