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README before using our guides to Long Walks on Cape Cod

Long Walks on Cape Cod

Copyright 1996 Cape Cod Trails Conference

Herring River

Herring River, Harwich

USGS Map:           Harwich, Dennis

Sketch Map of Route


1. Parking lot at the beginning of the Cape Rail Trail on the east side of Route l34, one-half mile south of exit 9 on Route 6.

2. Parking lot at the rear of the Harwich Town office building, 0.1 mile east of the intersection of Routes l24 and 39 in Harwich Center.


This walk is more enjoyable as a shuttle, walking from trailhead 1 to 2, or vice versa.  Then you do not have to repeat stretches of the rail trail, and will have plenty of time for the side excursions.

Set up the shuttle by driving all cars to the end you select, then load up as few cars as possible with as many hikers as you can get in each car.  Next you will drive them to the
beginning trailhead.  When you arrive at the end, you will only need to shuttle the drivers of those few cars to the beginning. Often, you can do it with one car.

We'll begin in Harwich Center, working our way westward. From the parking lot, walk north to the Harwich-Chatham rail trail, then west on it to cross Route 124.  Continue west 0.3
mile to a wide woods road.  Walk north on the woods road, passing Island Pond on your left.

You will pass several wood roads heading east and west. Continue walking north for almost three-quarters of a mile until you come to a distinct fork.  Go to the left, and come out almost
immediately on the Cape Cod rail trail.  Walk to the left, that is to the southwest.  If you were walking northeast on the rail trail, you would notice this track as deeply rutted and obviously
used by motorcycles.

Walking southwest on the rail trail brings you to a woods road with yellow stanchions on either side.  At this point, exit the rail trail to the left.  Bear to the right as this path curves to the south.  In about one-half mile, you will come up to the Harwich-Chatham rail trail again.  Walk west to the Cape Cod rail trail.

Now you will be walking the rail trail for almost a mile until it crosses Great Western Road.  Continue 0.5 mile further west on the rail trail until you come to a wide dirt road, which
is Bell's Neck Road.

Walk south on Bell's Neck Road about 0.4 miles until you have crossed the neck in between the two ponds.  They are known as reservoirs, although not used as such.  Immediately, a large unpaved road branches to the left.  That is North Road.  Follow it out to the foot bridge over the Herring River, and enjoy the view of the marshes, both sea water and fresh water.

Return a short distance on North Road to a track going east and west.  Walk west to Bell's Neck Road, another one-quarter mile. Walk south the short distance on Bell's Neck Road to the highway bridge over the Herring River for more views of the marsh and the osprey nests along the marsh.

Backtrack to the first woods road to the left, and follow it west to the herring ladder on the Herring River.  It is about one-half mile west of Bell's Neck Road, and is a sight not to be missed.

From the Herring River, reverse to the east for 0.3 miles and then bear left to walk around the bog back to Bell's Neck Road. Walk north across the neck.  Look for swans out on the water.  Go left on the first foot path beyond the reservoir.

Follow it west as it winds through a particularly scenic woodland, with wild shrubs in profusion.  Another side excursion along the way will take you close, but not too close, to the
osprey nesting area.  It is reached by a woods road to the south that is plainly marked.

Continuing west, you will reach the rail trail again just before it crosses the Herring River.  Now, to reach trailhead 1, you have a walk of 1.5 miles on the rail trail, crossing Depot
Road and Great Western Road.

The total walk is about eight and ten miles.  Allow a full five hours because you will be doing a lot of scenic meandering, with but two stretches of sustained walking.