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Find tranquility in nature.

Jess McHugh
July 12, 2017

Philosopher and author Henry David Thoreau packed up and left his old life behind in favor of the tranquility of Massachusetts' Walden Pond in 1845.

Seeking a closer relationship to nature, Thoreau spent two years living in a cabin and surviving off the land while penning a series of essays on simple living. The collection of these essays, titled “Walden Pond,” have inspired generations of transcendentalists and conservationists.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,” Thoreau wrote, on his reasons for living alongside the glacial lake.

On the occasion of Thoreau's 200th birthday, people still looking for solace from modern life can visit the pond, located in Concord, Massachusetts, about 30 miles west of Boston.

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The Walden Pond State Reservation is a National Historic Landmark, facilitating preservation efforts to keep the pond and its surrounding woods as close as possible to how they would have appeared in Thoreau's time.

The park is open from 5 a.m. to a half hour after sunset year-round, and entrance to the park is free though parking is a flat rate of $10. The park has a maximum capacity of 1,000 people and can become busy in the summer months.

Visitors to the park can hike its many trails, kayak, or swim in the pond. They can also explore the historical recreation of Thoreau's cabin, located near the site where he lived.

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Thoreau’s spirit of conservation continues to live on in the efforts of local scientists. Boston University biology professor Richard Primack described to local radio station WBUR how Thoreau’s description and classification of local plants and even ice thickness have assisted in his research.

"For the last 15 years we’ve been using Thoreau’s records to look for the effects of climate change. And now, this area of Concord, Massachusetts, we have the best evidence for climate change, the effects of climate change, from probably anywhere in the United States,” he said.

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