Walden Pond: Everything You Always Wanted To Know And More!

Updated September 2018

Walden Pond is located in Concord, Massachusetts. The pond is close to 2 miles long and 107 feet deep. The actual depth is variable as the pond rises and falls over a range of about 5 feet.It is a kettle hole lake.


What is a Kettle Hole? It’s a shallow, sediment-filled body of water formed by retreating glaciers or draining flood waters. In most cases kettle holes eventually fill with water, sediment, or vegetation. If surface or underground rivers or streams feed the kettle, it becomes a kettle lake.


Thoreau built his cabin on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s property in order to prevent it from being logged. When Thoreau lived on the pond he lived on less than .27 cents a week. He made his living through bartering.

One of the great lessons that he learned is that one person can affect many things.

He emphasized the need to take personal responsibility in all of our actions. We should each take responsibility to preserve the natural beauty that is around us.


Thoreau made Walden Pond famous and many visitors visit it to hike its trails as well as take in the natural beauty. The Walden Woods Project preserves the land, literature and legacy of the quintessential American author, philosopher, and naturalist, Henry David Thoreau, to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility.


Walden Pond has a rich history and legacy.  There used to be an amusement park at the western end of the pond, but it burned down in 1902 and was never rebuilt.  In 1961, the Middlesex County Commissioners, proposed leveling a significant portion of the preserve for a parking lot and other so-called  “improvements”.


 Unfortunately, they had already leveled an acre of woodland for access to a public beach. The County Commissioners were sued to stop the destruction of the environment. Judge Rose, of the Massachusetts Superior Court, ruled that Walden’s deed donating the property to the Commonwealth required preservation of the land and barred further development. Judge Rose received hundreds of letters from school children across the country thanking him for saving the beautiful land.

fish in Waldon Pond

Some of the fish you’ll find in the pond include

  • Rainbow trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Brown Bullhead
  • Chain Pickerel

Walden Pond is famous because Henry David Thoreau moved into a small 10 x 15 cabin built on the south end of the pond in 1845.


He stayed there for exactly 2 years, 2 months and 2 days. From July 1845 to September 1847. Thoreau started the environmental movement by moving there, and while there he wrote about his experiences at Walden Pond. His book “Life In The Woods” continues to stir emotion in even today’s readers about the importance of preserving the natural environment.


It’s a place where fish and plants can live as well as thrive in a healthy environment.

What Motivated David Thoreau To Move To Walden Pond?

After graduating from Harvard in 1837, Thoreau began his lifelong friendship with Emerson, who introduced him to other writers and nonconformist thinkers who were making Concord the center of new ideas. Among them were Bronson Alcott, Ellery Channing, Margaret Fuller and Nathaniel Hawthorne.


Emerson invited David to live in the Emerson household. Grief brought them closer together. The Emerson’s’ first son died just 2 weeks after the death of Thoreau’s beloved brother, John. 3 years later, Thoreau, still suffering from his loss, wanted to live in the woods and embark on a career as a writer. When Emerson offered him the use of a newly purchased lot at Walden Pond, Thoreau gladly accepted.


Over the next few years, Henry Thoreau wrote and rewrote (7 drafts in all) Walden; or Life in the Woods, one of the most famous works in American literature. Published in 1854, this classic has never been out of print and is still read by people all over the world.


Until his death in 1862, Thoreau combined surveying, lecturing, and writing. In 1849 at the height of the anti-slavery struggle, he published On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, (originally entitled Resistance to Civil Government). Many years later, this essay inspired Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other nonviolent protesters.


Today Walden Pond is not really much different than it was back in the 1840’s when Thoreau lived on its shores. A great amount of effort has gone into preserving Walden Pond and its natural environment. Visitors can follow a trail in the woods that goes around the pond. They can visit a replica of Thoreau’s cabin and see exactly where the cabin once stood.


Now part of the Massachusetts Forests and Parks system, Walden Pond State Reservation includes 335 acres of protected open space. Visitors from near and far come to experience the pond that inspired David.


In summer it’s a popular swimming destination. In the spring and fall, many people hike the beautiful trails that circle the pond.


In addition, many visit the replica of Thoreau’s one-room cabin. Year round programs and guided walks are offered.

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