Boston’s Best Pond Skating

Take advantage of outdoor ‘wild’ skating at 8 of the city’s top spots.

Every winter, outdoor skating rinks materialize all across Boston. While you’ll find polished pop-up rinks everywhere from Lynnfield to Jamaica Plain, locals know that the best scenery surrounds natural ponds that are there all year long. 

Sometimes called wild skating or Nordic skating, pond skating is a staple local pastime and an incredible way to experience the outdoors in a new way. (It also makes a great family outing or outdoor date.) Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

When To Go 

While city- and neighborhood-managed ponds are often monitored for ice thickness, truly wild ponds are not. If you’re skating in town, make sure the rink is officially open and/or cleared for skaters. This is usually November through February or March, as long as temperatures have been consistently below freezing for several weeks. 

The season is about the same for backcountry ice, but be sure to confer with an experienced local first to get a feel for the conditions before heading out (see “Safety Tips” below). 

Where To Go

From manicured city ponds to woodland pools and coves, here are eight of the best places to go pond skating near Boston.

Auburndale Cove

Located in far-west Boston, this 30-acre offshoot of the Charles River is managed for skating by the City of Newton each winter. Be sure to check the Auburndale Cove website for conditions and safety updates. Public skating is usually open from dawn to dusk whenever the ice is open.   

Boston Common Frog Pond 

Open November through March, the Boston Common Frog Pond is probably the most accessible pond on the list and the easiest place to learn how to skate. The pond hosts daily open skating hours as well as periodic shows and other events, including the annual First Night Skating Show on New Year’s Eve. You can also sign up for lessons and school skating programs here through the Skating Club of Boston

Channing Pond

Located southwest of Boston, the small but charming Channing Pond is maintained and managed by the town of Dover. It’s well-lit in the evenings, which makes it a nice spot for a sunset skate. (Be sure to check the city’s webpage for safety updates before you go.)

Chebacco Lake 

One of the bigger skating ponds in the area, Chebacco Lake sprawls between neighborhoods and quiet streets in Hamilton and Essex. Ice skating, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing are all permitted as long as the ice is thick enough.

Jacobs Pond 

The 60-acre pool at Jacob’s Pond Conservation Area turns into a perfect outdoor rink as soon as the deep freeze sets in. Cross-country skiing, ice skating, and ice fishing are all permitted. When your skating muscles grow weary, consider exploring the rest of the park on foot: A number of trails wind through the pine and oak forest and offer deep solitude in the winter months. 

Redd’s Pond 

Situated in a historic section of Marblehead just beneath Old Burial Hill, Redd’s Pond is a popular local spot for both ice hockey and family skating. Warm up with a coffee at nearby Mookie’s when you’re done. 

Turner Pond  

Looking to escape the city? Head to Walpole, southwest of Boston proper, for a few laps on Turner Pond. Citizen-maintained and -managed, Turner Pond covers several acres of skateable terrain (a full lap is just short of a mile). There’s also a warming lodge located right on the shore. Conditions and opening hours are posted regularly on the Walpole Ponds Facebook Page; check for updates before you go.   

Winter Pond

Nestled in a tree-ringed, glacially carved basin just north of Winchester, Winter Pond is a prime rock-skipping and birding spot in the summer and a popular skating site come winter. Take a few laps beneath snow-draped branches, or come with a hockey stick; Winter Pond is a popular spot for pickup games. 

Essential Gear 

Unlike indoor rinks, wild ponds bring you all the beauty—and unpredictability—of nature. Stay warm and prepared with these essentials. [Text Wrapping Break]

Ice skates

Don’t have your own? Shop around at local second-hand stores starting in the fall.

Snow shovel

Some ponds may require you to clear your own ice, which is easy to do with an avalanche shovel or snow shovel. (Double-check with the land manager before shoveling; clearing snow prematurely can interfere with the formation of skateable ice.) 

Warm boots

Insulated, waterproof hiking boots are a must, especially if you have to hike to the pond.

Waterproof mittens

Gloves will do, but mittens are warmer. Grab a waterproof pair (ski and snowboard gloves work) if you know you’ll be falling or otherwise touching the ice. 


You’ll need a hat that’s warm, at least a little windproof, and that covers your ears. 

Warm base layers

Wool or synthetic long johns can add serious warmth on cold days.


Trap heat around your chin and neck with a warm scarf or neck gaiter.  

Insulated jacket

Your jacket should be warm—either fleece-lined or stuffed with down or synthetic insulation. Make sure it has a soft-shell or other wind-resistant outer layer to keep you from losing heat when you’re moving at speed. 

Soft-shell pants

You can skate in jeans or sweats, but soft-shell pants are water-resistant, which means they won’t get damp in snow flurries—or if you take a spill onto the ice. 


Hot cocoa or tea in an insulated bottle makes the perfect mid-skate pick-me-up. It’s also a great way to stay hydrated even when the temps are low. 


Ice skating takes a lot of energy. Some skating ponds have rink-side concessions, but it’s always smart to bring your own just in case.

Safety Tips 

While it would be naive to call wild skating 100% safe, you can avoid most mishaps with a little common sense and ice know-how. Always skate with a friend, and avoid ice that’s aerated (filled with air bubbles or styrofoam-like in appearance) and anything that has running water just beneath it. Instead, look for clear, dark ice that’s 6 to 9 inches thick and that’s far from rocks, stumps, and other partially submerged objects. 

Keep in mind that ice thickness can vary widely; ice may be thick enough to skate on in one corner of a pond but get far thinner just a few feet away. Always inspect and test ice thoroughly before trusting your full weight to it. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.