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Massachusetts Parks: Best Fresh Water Swimming Near Boston: Walden Pond, Concord

Sandy Beach now under water
Sandy Beach now under water

Best Fresh Water Beaches Near Boston: Walden Pond

Walden Pond State Reservation

Rt. 126

Concord, MA


Walden Pond is a 462 acre reservation with public swimming and hiking trails located just 20 miles west of Boston off Route 2 in Concord. It is a phenomenal swimming destination: there is a family friendly sandy beach on the eastern shore and stone step access points dotted around the shore line for more private swimming. Advanced swimmers circuit the lake from early Spring to late Fall. It is such a popular spot that the parking lot fills early in the morning. It is reopened again at 3pm and then again at 5pm (These times vary so call ahead). Facilities include a visitor center, restrooms,and  non-mortorized boat access. NOTE: Due to heavy Spring rains in 2010 there will be parking for only 165 cars--the sandy beach is under water and swimming is from the path and retaining wall---many hiking trails are closed. Call the visitor center for more details.

Walden Pond is a "kettle pond", that is, it was formed 10,000 years or so ago when the last glaciers retreated. The retreat was marked by stops and starts and slow melts, so at times huge ice bergs would be found floating in melt lakes. As the lakes dried up or drained when the ice dams creating them collapsed, the ice bergs would settle and eventually be covered in runoff soil. The bergs eventually melted, too, leaving deep round holes in the glacial till. When these holes filled up with runoff from the surrounding soils, kettle ponds were formed. Since the water for Walden is filtered from the surrounding soils or comes directly from the sky, it doesn't have the nutrients to support extensive water plant life...the water is remarkably clear and soft. And Walden, as a kettle pond, has no natural outlet, so it loses water only from evaporation or reverse filtration, so, all that water from the 2010 Spring rains will take a while to recede.

Henry David Thoreau lived at Walden Pond from July 1845 to September 1847. His book Walden, is credited with helping to inspire awareness and respect for the natural environment. Walden Pond has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement--an inscribed stone marks the site of the huts chimney and granite piers mark the frame of Thoreau's house.

For more Massachusetts Parks see Nature Examiner Home Page.


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