Walden Pond State Reservation is located about 20 miles away from Boston. The State Park is 462 acres in dimension, and is surrounded by 2200 acres of protected forest known as Walden Woods, which comprise the rest of the reservation. The pond itself is 61 acres in size, 1.7 miles in circumference, and 102 feet deep. The pond is actually a glacial "kettle hole," caused by a large piece of a glacier breaking off on this spot, and then later melting water rushing over and around the large remnant. When the remnant and glacier eventually melted, the kettle hole remained where the ice-chunk had fallen off.
The State Park is open year-round and is a day-use area. It is a carry-in, carry-out facility which means that visitors much remove their own trash as there are no trash barrels on site. There is a main parking lot located directly across from the pond on Route 126. Visitors can swim, hike, fish, canoe, cross-country ski, or snowshoe in the park. Hours vary depending on the season.
Of special note, to protect the natural resources of the reservation, there is a limit of 1000 visitors at any one time. During a hot summer day, there can be a line of cars destined for the park, with some being turned away due to capacity issues. Visiting early or late in the day can help avoid the peak times. Call ahead to avoid being turned away.
Walden Pond State Reservation is only 30 minutes from Boston, and is one of only a few forested parks that are close to the city. The DCR web site contains current regulations for using the facility. The reservation is extremely popular during summer for swimming and hiking, and is also a great destination for viewing foliage during autumn.
Walden Pond and Walden Woods were made famous by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). From 1845 to 1847, Thoreau lived for two years in a one-room cabin on the property. This sojourn as a hermit resulted in the 1854 novel Walden; or, Life in the Woods. Thoreau sought spiritual discovery through a simplified lifestyle. The book describes his self-imposed social experiment, and is a manual for self-reliance.
Thoreau eloquently describes Walden Pond in Life in the Woods: “A field of water betrays the spirit that is in the air. It is continually receiving new life and motion from above. It is intermediate in its nature between land and sky. On land only the grass and trees wave, but the water itself is rippled by the wind. I see where the breeze dashes across it by the streaks or flakes of light. It is remarkable that we can look down on its surface. We shall, perhaps, look down thus on the surface of air at length, and mark where a still subtler spirit sweeps over it.”
Walden Pond State Reservation
Mass Department of Conservation & Recreation
915 Walden Street (Route 126), Concord, MA 01742