Savor the last bit of summer and spend an afternoon at Walden Pond if you haven’t already! Near Concord, MA, the Walden Pond State Reservation is a true jewel – convenient to access, yet extremely peaceful. Every time I visit I feel rejuvenated by the scent of the pines and the untouched nature. Whether you stay for an hour or the whole day, Walden Pond is worth a visit.

Entering the Park 

Fees are $8 for a car with Massachusetts license plates and $10 for a car without them. I’ve been multiple times, and during September it’s always easy to enter and find a place to park. However, on holiday or summer weekends it’s not uncommon for the park to reach vehicle capacity, at which point they close access until a certain time. During my most recent visit, we arrived shortly after 12PM and learned the park wasn’t going to be open again until 1PM. We made the best of it and explored the surrounding area (check out the Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary or the Gropius House), and returned to Walden Pond just before 1PM. After waiting in a line of cars, we were able to enter and finally get down to the water.

At First Glance 

When one first walks down to the pond, there is a larger swimming beach that is usually the most crowded spot along the water. There are buoys designating specific swimming areas, usually lots of families with small children, and lifeguards on duty. Directly behind the beach is a bathhouse. No snack bars are available, but sometimes there’s an ice cream truck in the parking lot during the summer.

Such clear water!
Such clear water!

The Pond

The pond itself is incredibly lovely. There is a beach (sandy in some parts, rocky in others, usually not so spacious) that wraps around the entire circumference, so there are many options when it comes to finding a more secluded spot to set up. The water is incredibly clear and tends to be warmer at the end of the summer. The farther out you swim towards the middle of the pond, the chillier it gets, but I’d argue it’s more refreshing than anything. Very occasionally, a train can be heard rumbling past the far end of the pond, but that’s what you get with Boston being so close by.

Activities

Besides swimming, there are plenty of opportunities for other activities. Visitors canoe, kayak, and paddle board on the water. For those less interested in getting wet, there are walking trails to be explored, the most popular being the loop around the pond.

Fish swimming in the shallow water.
Fish swimming in the shallow water.

What to Bring

Consider bringing the following items:

  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Bathing Suit
  • Beach chair
  • Snacks/Lunch
  • Drinks
  • Entertainment (books/toys/games)
  • Materials for activities (sneakers, canoe, kayak, etc.)

Historical and Scientific Notes

Walden Pond was created by the Wisconsin glacier about 11,000 years ago, and was then home to mastodons, bisons, and caribou during its tundra period. Not until the 1630s did it experience white settlement, by which time the pond was surrounded by chestnut, oak, and hickory trees. By the time Henry David Thoreau (author of the famous book Walden) came to stay at the pond for two years starting in 1846, pine trees dominated the forests. It is now considered a National Historical and Literary Landmark.

The pond is a water table pond, which means that there are no springs or streams associated with it. Water enters via seepage, snowmelt, and rainfall, and exits via seepage, evaporation, and plant uptake.

Learn more about the pond’s history here, and learn more about the state reservation here.

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