Kayaking Herring River in Cape Cod

I’ve got a huge Cape Cod post coming tomorrow, but first I wanted to write about a specific kayaking trip we did this past summer on the Herring River in West Harwich, MA. My parents have talked about this kayak route for years but this is the first time I’ve done it. The timing is a little tricky because you have to plan it according to the tides — you paddle inland for the final hour of high tide, continue for about 30 minutes of slack tide, and then turn around and paddle back as low tide begins. This way the current is pushing you in the right direction at all times, making it an effortless paddle so you can sit back and enjoy the views. It’s still a good arm workout as the whole thing takes about 3 hours. The scenery is idyllic the whole way… the river twists and turns around bends of tall grass.

Here is a map of the launch point — there is a small parking lot off of Route 28 with a ramp and dock for kayaks / boats. From there, head north up the river. The turn-around spot is the fish ladder at Bell’s Neck (see full map further down).


Below is a map of the whole route. It’s fairly straightforward. There is one spot around the mid-way point where you have to take a left when the river forks. You will cross under three bridges. The turnaround point at Bells Neck is obvious because you literally can’t go any further. In the video at the end of the post, you’ll see the turnaround quite clearly.


We specifically plan to kayak this route on a morning when high tide is is at 10:30am. We park at 9am and unload the kayaks. The plan is to ride the tide inland for the first 90 minutes (there is 30 minutes of slack tide after high tide where the water is basically still) and then we’ll turn around and ride the tide back out to where we parked.


About to set off from the launch point…


I’m wearing my GoPro the whole way out to capture video. On the return trip, I put the GoPro away and take photos with my point-and-shoot camera.


Mom and Dad, thanks for showing me this kayak route!


Love paddling under the bridges:



The river is fairly wide the entire route. But when I see a little path cutting through tall weeds, I’m curious and decide to follow it for a short stretch (turns out it doesn’t go very far so I have to turn around quickly).


It’s a gorgeous day — clear skies and not too hot. As you can see the water looks perfectly still in this next photo; it was probably taken around slack tide.



My parents brought along binoculars to bird watch (NERDS!).


Egret perched on a treetop:


I’m sort of obsessed with these muddy banks — there are thousands of crabs climbing in and out of these waters. Every time I paddle close to shore, they scurry in a hurry.


I set down my paddle and allow the kayak to float into the mud, hoping to catch the crabs off guard so I can snap a photo:


One of them peeks out from the mud — can you see those eyes?!




My favorite part of this post is the video I edited (below). I had over an hour of GoPro footage which I cut down to under 5 minutes. It shows off the river terrain pretty well so you get an idea for how scenic this area is. Sorry for the cheesy iMovie music; it’s free so it’ll have to do. Enjoy!

So glad to have finally done this route after years of hearing my parents rave about it! It was worth the inevitable sore arms the next day.

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