Walden Pond is a lake in Concord, Massachusetts, in the United States. A famous example of a kettle hole, it was formed by retreating glaciers 10,000–12,000 years ago. The pond is protected as part of Walden Pond State Reservation, a 335-acre (136 ha) state park and recreation site managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. The reservation was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962 for its association with the writer Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), whose two years living in a cabin on its shore provided the foundation for his most famous work, Walden; or, Life in the Woods.
The Walden Pond Reservation is located south of Massachusetts Route 2 and (mostly) west of Massachusetts Route 126 in Concord and Lincoln, Massachusetts. The reservation is 335 acres (136 ha) in size, and its principal feature is Walden Pond, a 64.5-acre (26.1 ha) body of water. A short way north of the pond the site of Thoreau’s cabin is marked by a series of granite posts. Portions of the pond’s shore are beach, while other parts descend steeply to the water from trails that ring the pond. There are three buildings at the main beach area at the southeastern shore of the pond. The reservation’s parking area is located across Route 126, and a ramped footpath descends from that roadway to the pond.
The writer, transcendentalist, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau lived on the northern shore of the pond for two years starting in the summer of 1845. Thoreau was inspired by former enslaved woman Zilpah White, who lived in a one-room house on the common land that bordered Walden Road and made a living spinning flax into linen fibers. White’s ability to provide for herself at a time when few if any other Concord women lived alone was a great accomplishment.
Thoreau’s account of his experience at the pond was recorded in Walden; or, Life in the Woods, and made the pond famous. The land at that end was owned by Thoreau’s friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who let Thoreau use it for his experiment. Thoreau is credited with encouraging a respect for nature at an environmentally degraded site. The Concord Museum contains the bed, chair, and desk from Thoreau’s cabin.