Walden Pond, Massachusetts, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Massachusetts - Greater Boston -

Part of the American psyche for over 150 years, Walden Pond belongs to us all. This 61-acre ‘pothole lake’ just outside of Concord, MA was the home of Henry David Thoreau when he began his writing career. Thoreau never owned the pond; it belonged to his good friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. After visiting Walden Pond, Thoreau often walked a half-mile along the newly-built railroad tracks to get back to the town of Concord, where he lived for the majority of his life. But his solitary two years at Walden Pond allowed him to observe nature and record his findings in a way that transfixed his readers.

Thoreau is now considered the father of the conservation movement. Walden Pond, as seen though his eyes, instilled a vision of unspoiled nature in generations to come. Perhaps in mystic anticipation of Walden’s future, he wrote in 1859: “I think that each town should have a park, a common possession forever, for instruction and recreation. . . All Walden wood might have been preserved for our park forever, with Walden in its midst.” Walden’s vision is now reality; the Walden Pond State Reservation holds 335 acres of land surrounding the pond as a protected park for the public to enjoy.

Walden Park provides swimming beaches, picnic grounds, fishing, and hiking the protected woods around the pond. The park is limited to 1000 visitors at any one time. Limits are placed on activities at the park such as no pets or grills. No sailboats or motorized boats may be launched. Canoes, kayaks, and rowboats are allowed. The trails are open year round, including trails for cross-country skiing in winter. No motorized vehicles, bicycles or horses are permitted. A year-round visitors’ center dispenses information and sells gifts. A reconstruction of Thoreau’s one-room cabin is an easy hike, while the marked site of the original cabin is a bit farther up the trail. Myriad paths lead across hills, through meadows and wetlands.

Many of the wonders of nature that Thoreau documented still are found within the park and the adjacent 2680 acres of mostly undeveloped, protected land called Walden Woods. Deer, coyotes, beavers, porcupines, turkeys, red squirrels, gray squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, red foxes and raccoons all inhabit the woods. The trees harbor downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, robins, blue jays, cardinals and eastern phoebes. Walden Pond and nearby Goose Pond shelter Canada geese, mallards and wood ducks along with migrating waterfowl. The pond margins, meadows and wetlands harbor bullfrogs, northern water snakes, snapping turtles, painted turtles, garter snakes, eastern ribbon snakes, American toads, Woodhouse’s toads, leopard frogs, grey tree frogs and other northern woodland natives.

Chain pickerel, common in Thoreau’s day, have mostly died out. The pond is stocked by Massachusetts Wildlife in the spring and fall and harbors brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, rainbow smelt and catfish.

Walden Pond is very deep for its small size. A ‘pothole lake’ created by glacial ice, the pond reaches 102 feet in depth and has no inflowing streams. A spring provides most of its water. Because the pond is extremely clear, a delicate balance of pond plants grows to good depth. Much of the regulation of the park around the pond is aimed at preventing damaging runoff. One innovative project was installation of a form of permeable pavement for the parking lot. This experimental paving material allows water to soak through the pavement instead of running off and contaminating the pond. The porous pavement has worked well for nearly 30 years, although efforts elsewhere at creating porous paving have not been as successful.

Walden Pond narrowly escaped the effects of too much love. Before 1900, an amusement park was developed near the railway along the shore, and huge numbers of visitors arrived by rail to enjoy the famous pond. The amusement park burned in 1902 and was never rebuilt. Local landowners gifted about 80 acres to efforts to construct a protected reserve; the resulting park, although restrictive, ensures that the pond and surrounding reserve are protected from development. Because the pond became so popular for swimming, park visitors are now limited in both numbers and activities, to keep the pond pristine and its surrounding woods natural. Located only 20 miles from Boston Harbor, Walden Pond is indeed lucky to remain unspoiled despite 300 years of steadily growing population. Concord itself has played a major role in the history and the development of Massachusetts and the United States.

Visitors on a pilgrimage to discover the historical roots of the USA often leave Boston and travel through Lexington to Concord. The Minuteman National Historical Park is located in Concord. The Concord Museum preserves Paul Revere’s famous lantern plus an excellent collection of Americana. The Colonial Inn on Monument Square dates from 1716. Wright’s Tavern, also on Monument Square, was the overflow meeting area of the Provincial Congress while the larger body convened at the Meeting House nearby on the eve of the American Revolution. Nearby, the Battle of North Bridge took place. Another battle is commemorated between the Minutemen and retreating British troops at Meriam’s Corner. The Old Hill Burying Ground holds the graves of many colonial families and Revolutionary War soldiers. Genealogists find the local records fascinating and richly informative.

Concord’s post-war history soon filled with authors, of which Thoreau was only one. The homes of Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott and Margaret Sidney are preserved and most can be toured. Most are buried on Author’s Ridge in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Historic Concord is well-appointed with lodgings and offers all necessary shopping and services. Some historic inns still greet guests, and many offer excellent dining. Antique shops, art galleries, and craft shops are plentiful. Several chain hotels operate nearby, but there is no lodging available directly on Walden Pond. Real estate is available in the area, however.

A visit to Walden Pond helps tourists to develop an understanding of and appreciation for lakes and ponds. As Thoreau so beautifully opined, “A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. The fluviatile trees next the shore are the slender eyelashes which fringe it, and the wooded hills and cliffs around are its overhanging brows.”* This was the landscape that the Minutemen were willing to lay down their lives to defend.

Walden Pond is a fitting stop on an historical New England adventure. At your first glimpse of Walden Pond, you will understand why.

* “Walden, Or Life In The Woods” by Henry David Thoreau, 1854

Things to do at Walden Pond

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Amusement Park
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Walden Pond

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Catfish
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Smelt
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch

Walden Pond Photo Gallery

Walden Pond Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 61 acres

Shoreline Length: 2 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 155 feet

Maximum Depth: 102 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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