Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden, is celebrated by some as the birthplace of the American conservation movement. You can visit Thoreau’s cabin site, marked by a giant cairn, along with a replica of his cabin as you hike around the pond.
The Walden Pond Path is a loop that begins at either edge of the main beach. Be prepared for crowds on summery days. Heading north and east will lead you past the boat ramp to a forested trail between Emerson’s Cliff and the shoreline. The path skirts Little Cove and Long Cove with slight elevation gains.
The Emerson’s Cliff Trail, Heywood Meadow Trail and Esker Trail all connect with the Pond Path and offer additional hiking. This is a glacial landscape of kettle ponds, moraines, and eskers. It supports a mature forest and many flowering plants. You may see wild turkey, woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks, wood ducks, and hear the calls of eastern phoebe. Keep a lookout for frogs, painted and snapping turtles, and bluegill and pumpkinseed fish.
From Long Cove, head west across the railroad tracks to the Adams Woods Trails. Watch for trains because these tracks are live! Follow the Red Trail markers through forest and kettle ponds to Fairhaven Bay on the Concord River. Abundant waterfowl live in the marshes here. Make a circuit by following Yellow Trail markers to return to the tracks.
Re-cross the tracks (remember to look both ways) and head south on the Walden Pond Path passing Ice Fort Cove to Thoreau’s Cove. A spur trail leads to a giant cairn, created by visitors, marking his cabin site. Return to the Walden Pond Path and head east. If you are seeking some elevation gain, try the Ridge Path and Sherwood Trail instead. Either path will take you back to the Main Beach.