Herring River is a totally different kayaking experience from Bass River. A large portion of the river meanders throughout a protected area known as Bells Neck. In addition to kayaking, there are also a lot of hiking paths. There are no marked trails so you just have to head out on some of the paths and see where you end up. You can access this area either from Rte. 28 by going North on Bells Neck Road or from Great Western Road by going South on Bells Neck Road. You can also park and launch in a town lot off Route 28 on the west side of Herring River. Depending on the tide, you can choose to either go upstream or downstream from this landing. At low tide, there is very little water in this river. You do not want to get caught upstream at low tide unless you plan to hike around the area. Likewise you do not want to get caught at the mouth of the river and have to paddle back to your car way upstream. Neither scenario will be particularly fun.
Bells Neck is a very isolated area in the middle of Harwich. There are tall reeds all along the river and you may begin to wonder if you will meet up with the Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on the African Queen. At times, you cannot see around the next bend in the river because the reeds are so tall and the river can be very narrow.
Because of the isolation of Bells Neck, it is an excellent place for bird watching. There are two reservoirs here but they are not connected to one another at all. The East Reservoir is interesting to paddle around but it is self-contained. The West Reservoir is connected to Herring River but you can’t get to the river from the reservoir because they are only connected underwater via a very large pipe.
You can park along Bells Neck Road (dirt) and launch your kayaks where the river crosses the road. If you paddle North, you will head toward the West Reservoir. The last time I was there, the river up near the reservoir was full of swans. Just remember, even though they are beautiful to see, don’t try to get very close to the swans because they have a nasty disposition. Keep your distance!
If you paddle South where the river crosses Bell Neck Road, you will wander through some beautiful marsh area and if you have timed the tides right, you will be able to float and just lean back and enjoy the view and wildlife. If you go far enough, you will go under Route 28. The river will widen here and there will be some beautiful homes to enjoy as you head toward Nantucket Sound. There are some nice beaches to enjoy at the mouth of the river.