Boston can be stressful, even in summertime. But one beauty of the city is that there are many nearby escapes. Here’s one that holds the added attraction of following in the footsteps of the great literary escapee Henry David Thoreau: a mental health day at Walden Pond.
The Walden Pond State Reservation is about a mile and a half from Concord Center. The reservation encompasses the 102-foot-deep kettle-hole pond formed by receding glaciers and Walden Woods, 2,680 acres of mostly undeveloped woods. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the area is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement.
The reservation and the pond are largely unchanged from Thoreau’s day — that and their literary connection make Walden perhaps the most famous pond of them all. Transcendentalist thinker Thoreau retreated to a one-room cabin on its banks, where he lived from July 1845 to September 1847 and wrote his most famous book, Walden.
Concord was a Transcendental hotbed in the 19th century, so Thoreau was not as solitary as some of his writing implies. Other authors and intellectuals in the area included Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott and his daughter Louisa May, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Concord’s guided tours and preserved monuments, including the Transcendentalists’ homes, statues, and a replica of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden, keep history alive.
Walden is a popular destination for swimming, picnicking, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The pond’s extensive shoreline, with little pocket beaches dipping off a hiking trail, makes for a great escape and offers real privacy even on a crowded day. If you’re not up for a picnic by fresh water, the center is within walking distance and has a number of good cafés and restaurants.
Driving is by far the easiest way to get to Walden, but it is also possible to get there by commuter rail and by bike. Driving: take the Mass Pike (I-90) west to Route 95/128 north and take exit 29B onto Rte. 2 west. At the third set of lights, go left on Route 126 south. Parking (only $5 for the day) is a quarter-mile on the left, the pond is on the right. Commuter rail: trek to North Station on the Green Line, then take the Fitchburg line, getting off at Concord Center. It’s a 25-minute walk from there (bikes can be brought on the train on weekends). By bike: navigate through the city to Cambridge’s Alewife MBTA station, and then things improve. The Minuteman Bikeway leads to Lexington; local roads connect to Concord. The park is open year-round.
Visit here for more information, including park hours, or call the visitors center at 978-369-3254.
Devon Maloney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.