A Thoreau-ly nice day trip

A Thoreau-ly nice day trip

A Thoreau-ly nice day trip

Biking to Walden Pond

May 29, 2024 | Miriam K.

Nuclear Science and Engineering

The idea of a day trip always makes me feel nostalgic of my childhood. I picture a car ride, a picnic, and a day spent in parks or museums. Now, as an adult, I think day trips are also ideal for grad students, since they are mini vacations when you don’t have the time or money to spend the night somewhere far away. Instead, you can focus on exploring the region around you while traveling there and back in a single day.

Miriam's Strava itinerary, named "Lunch Ride," with the following statistics: Distance, 21.51 miles. Elevation gain, 704 feet. Moving time, 2 hours, 29 minutes, and 42 seconds. Average speed, 8.6 miles per hour. Maximum elevation, 314 feet. Maximum speed, 26.6 miles per hour.
My itinerary (from the Strava app)

My favorite day trip from Cambridge so far has been biking to Walden Pond. Made famous by the American writer Henry David Thoreau, it features a very pleasant beach surrounded by woods where you can hike, bike, and swim. I went in late September on a cool, sunny day, ideal for being outside. 

Biking to Walden Pond took about two hours from the Central Square area of Cambridge, nearby to MIT. I am by no means a fast or experienced biker. I just took my time and stopped for plenty of breaks! Aside from one or two hills, the path was flat and a large section was on the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway for added safety. From MIT, I biked on Massachusetts Avenue until it intersected Mystic Street in Arlington, which is where the Minuteman Bikeway begins. Along the way, you may see Revolutionary War reenactments, as you’ll pass several historic landmarks of the war. When the bikeway ends in Bedford, you can take the Reformatory Branch Trail on to Concord. I actually got off the bikeway in Lexington and got back on to Mass Ave, which led me right past the gate of MIT Lincoln Lab.  From there, I made my way up to Concord for some lunch and then headed down to Walden Pond State Reservation. 

Walden Pond has a surprisingly nice beach with soft white sand. I found it cleaner and more peaceful than other beaches I have been to in the Boston area. As it is a pond rather than the ocean, there were no waves, and it was not too deep. I locked my bike up in one of the available racks and cooled off in the water. I swam mostly near the shore, but I saw other people who were swimming across the width of the pond (a one-mile swim round-trip). There were a lot of people there, but it didn’t feel crowded. Something about being surrounded by trees gave a serene feeling to the outing. It was absolutely lovely, and I can see why Thoreau would have gained inspiration there. Next time I go, I want to do the Thoreau walking tour to learn more about his life and work. This tour would take me around the pond, passing a replica of his famous house and the original historic site of the house, in a two mile loop. 

Miriam holds up a cup of green ice cream in front of a sunny, green-lined parking lot.
Cooling off with some ice cream before hopping on the train

After drying off on the warm sand, my day trip was only halfway over. I now had to make my way home. I did not feel up to biking all the way back, so I opted for the Commuter Rail from the Concord station. While I waited for the train to arrive, I followed the crowd to a small creamery near the train station, where I satisfied my appetite with two scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Once on the train, it was clear I wasn’t the only one taking the easy way home. The train car was full of bikes, and the train attendants were experts at stacking them together out of the way of the passengers.

The commuter rail was a great experience, and a convenient way to take a day trip. For less than $10, you can go all up and down the coast of Massachusetts for day trips to Salem, Newburyport, and many other iconic destinations, and for those who might not be up for biking, it would be a great option to get to Walden Pond. I thoreau-ly enjoyed my day trip to Walden Pond – a trip that will definitely not be my last day trip, but has been my favorite so far.

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