Planning a Group Visit

Image of a group visiting Walden Woods

The Walden Woods Project is pleased to welcome groups who wish to explore Thoreau’s Walden Woods throughout the year.

Below are brief descriptions of the guided experiences we most often offer to visiting groups.  Click on the “Request Visit” button below to start planning!  It is always our goal to meet the goals and interests of each group. We will work with you to adapt existing activities or develop new ones in order to make your visit meaningful!

Starting January 1, 2017, we will be charging a minimal fee for our facilitated group visits (outlined below).  It is our goal to make these programs available to ALL groups that wish to visit us in the Walden Woods, however, so please be in touch if the fees are prohibitive for your group.  

Thoreau Gallery Talks

RR2This is a session with the Walden Woods Project’s Curator of Collections, author and Thoreau scholar, Jeffrey S. Cramer, in the Thoreau Institute Library. The library maintains the most comprehensive body of Thoreau-related material available in one place. Mr. Cramer will provide an introduction to Thoreau and the era in which he lived, and will discuss Thoreau’s life and writings as they relate to historical items on display in the library. These sessions are most dynamic when participants come with questions to ask and comments that spark discussion!

More in-depth topics may include:

  • Thoreau and Civil Disobedience/Social Reform
  • Thoreau and Transcendentalism
  • Thoreau as a Writer
  • Other topics generated by the group’s interests

Time Frame: Usually 1 hour (flexible)

Optional Extension: Groups may wish to spend some quiet time journaling and reflecting, or having lunch on the Thoreau Institute grounds. Consider pairing this talk with the Walden Woods Outing or A Walk at the Pond.

Meeting Point: Directions will be sent once a reservation is confirmed.  Please note that access to the Thoreau Institute campus is limited and groups in large buses may not be able to choose this activity.

Cost: $40 for up to 20 students (or fraction of)

A Walk at the Pond

In this session, participants will visit the iconic place that has become synonymous with Thoreau—Walden Pond.  Taking place at the Walden PondIMAG0211 State Reservation (WPSR), these visits usually being at the to-scale replica of Thoreau’s Walden house, which stands near the brand new, LEED-certified Walden Pond Visitors’ Center.  About 1/3 of the way around the Pond, we visit the original site of Thoreau’s house.  Depending on the amount of time available, we can then continue all the way around the Pond-side trail (total of 1.7 miles), do a nature-based journaling activity, visit the site of Thoreau’s bean field or do another activity that supports your group’s objectives.

Time Frame:  1-1/2 to 2 hours (flexible)

Optional Extension: We work with a renowned Henry David Thoreau historical re-enactor who will have a 40-50 minute conversation with students, often in the replica, with a fire burning in the stove!  Please inquire about the cost of this extension activity.

Meeting Point: We usually meet groups at the Walden house replica (near the Visitor Center).

Please note that parking fees at the Reservation are: $20 buses, $10 car/van with non-MA plate, $8 car with MA plate.

Thoreau’s Path on Brister’s Hill

Ipswich Middle School BristersBrister’s Hill (in Concord) is named after Brister Freeman, a freed slave who was the second person of African descent to own property in Concord, about whom Thoreau writes in Walden.  Here, the Walden Woods Project maintains “Thoreau’s Path on Brister’s Hill,” a trail that is interpreted almost entirely by Thoreau’s words, etched into stone and metal in unassuming places along the trail. This site, which was the impetus for the founding of the Walden Woods Project, is rich with connections to Thoreau’s life and legacy, social history, natural history, and social reform.  The “Reflection Circle,” with quotations by naturalists, activists, politicians, authors and others who were influenced in some way by Thoreau, is a wonderful space for a group to do a journaling activity or just to silently reflect.  The total length of the trail is approximately 1-1/2 miles.

Time Frame: 1-1/2 to 2 hours (flexible)

Optional Extensions: Brister’s Hill is located adjacent to the Hapgood Wright Concord Town Forest, featuring Fairyland Pond (named such by Thoreau) and a lovely outdoor classroom.  This space can be used for any number of discussion-based or journaling activities.  Moreover, Thoreau’s Path on Brister’s Hill meets up with the Emerson-Thoreau Amble, a trail that connects Ralph Waldo Emerson’s house in Concord Center with Thoreau’s house site at Walden Pond. We are happy to coordinate a schedule whereby your group rotates through the Emerson House and Thoreau’s Path, following the Amble back and forth between the two sites (approximately a 20-minute walk between). Alternatively, the Concord Museum (which houses many of Thoreau’s belongings, including the actual contents of his Walden house) is right across the street from Emerson House and is an option for this excursion, as well. The Emerson House tour and Concord Museum both cost $7 per person.

Meeting Point: Groups will most often meet us in the parking lot of the Hapgood Wright Concord Town Forest

Cost: $70 for up to 25 students (or fraction of). We highly recommend adding time (30-45 minutes) for reflection and discussion to this activity, for an additional $30 for up to 25 students (or fraction of)

Henry’s HatSM: An Elementary Excursion

This experience is specifically for grades 3-5, a complement to our Henry’s HatSM elementary curriculum. Henry notably walked outside four or more hours each day. As he tells us in his journal, he modified the lining of his hat to act as a scaffold in which he stored natural objects he discovered on these walks and wanted to take home for closer observation. The Henry’s HatSM Excursion gets students outside, collecting experiences and observations that—as in Henry’s case–can help them to learn more after our return from the walk. Each Henry’s HatSM Excursion will involve a walk (45-60 minutes) that involves close observation and, if allowed at the site, collection of natural objects for further study. The visit will conclude with the facilitation of one or two lessons from the Henry’s HatSM curriculum, selected for your group’s interests and goals.

Time Frame: 1-1/2 to 2 hours (flexible)

Optional Extension: This experience can be done here in Walden Woods OR in your community! We do have limits on how far we can travel, but please make a note on your Group Visit Request, in the “Additional Comments” section, if you would like to find out more about having Walden Woods Project staff conduct this outing at your local site.

Meeting Point: To be determined, based on activities/lessons requested, size of group, etc.

Cost: $60 for up to 25 students (or fraction of)

NEW! A Day at Fairyland—for Preschoolers

Not only did Thoreau give Fairyland Pond its name, but it was one of his favorite places to take 20160602_103403 (2)kids to explore and learn from Nature.  This awe-filled session for preschoolers (ages 3 and 4) takes kids to that very spot, introduces them to Henry through an age-appropriate story book based on Henry and gets them interacting with and exploring nature through the construction of Fairy Houses.

Time Frame:  1-1/2 to 2 hours (flexible)

Optional Extensions: If your kids like to draw, we can also have them do drawings of what they see in nature. Or we can do a hunt for animals (fish, frogs, beavers, chipmunks, and more!) in and around Fairyland Pond.

Meeting Point: Parking lot of the Hapgood Wright Concord Town Forest

Cost: $60 for up to 20 students (or fraction of)

Add a guided journaling/reflection experience to any of the above excursions

While each of the experiences above will provide your group with a great deal of information about and inspiration from Thoreau, and will include some time for discussion, we find that pairing those experiences with some thoughtful and intentional time spent on reflection helps students to process and make meaning of their time in Walden Woods.  The reflection exercise will be personalized to your group’s objectives and age range.

Time Frame: 30-45 minutes

Cost: $45 for each group doing any of the activities above (e.g., if you have 45 students—2 groups—doing Thoreau’s Path on Brister’s Hill, the reflection time would be $90)


If we haven’t answered your questions here, please visit our Group Visits Frequently Asked Questions page.

Click here to start planning a group visit with us!

Once you’ve submitted your group visit request form, we will contact you within two business days to start arranging the details of your visit!

Unable to bring your group to Walden Woods for a visit?

Consider bringing us to you…with a Skype session!  Click here for more information.