Situated within the Walden Pond State Reservation, a 335-acre protected open space, the pond was formed from glacier melt approximately 10,000-12,000 years ago. The resulting ecosystem, common in Massachusetts, includes the freshwater pond and surrounding deciduous forest. The pond is famous as the home of Henry David Thoreau, who resided in a cabin along its shores from 1845 to 1847 and authored the book, “Walden, or Life in the Woods.” Thoreau’s writings on Walden Pond, along with other writers from the transcendentalist movement, inspired increased public interest in nature and ushered in the modern conservation movement. In 1922 the pond and surrounding land were deeded to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by Emerson’s heirs with the mandate that its historic character be preserved.
The pond measures 64.5 acres, with a recreational beach located along its eastern shore. The land around the pond is wooded. Visitor facilities, parking areas, and a replica of Thoreau’s cabin are located near the beach. The original site of his cabin is located along the pond’s northern shore. The pond is encircled by a hiking trail called the Pond Path. The reservation, managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, provides opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and a variety of other recreational activities. Walden Pond was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.