Run, herring, run!

The Herring River and Harwich Conservation Land

Whenever Harry and I find ourselves with an hour or so to spare, we often go to the Harwich Conservation Land. It's an easy, beautiful one-mile bike ride. There are two beautiful bridges in the Conservation Land and there are times when the view from those bridges is just breathtaking. There often are people crabbing there off the bridges, catching a nice lunch or dinner. The Harwich Conservation Land now encompasses 448 protected acres and it is “Olde Cape Cod” at its best with wonderful trails and the Herring River. In particular, we enjoy the West and East Reservoirs where swans and the Great Blue Heron can often be seen, and where we go hiking, kayaking, fishing, and biking. In fact, the Cape Cod Rail Trail (a 22-mile paved bike trail) runs through the conservation land, and bikes can easily be rented and delivered to Saturday Farm, waiting for you when you arrive.   

 The Conservation Land is wonderful all year, but if you are a nature lover like me, you’ll be excited for early spring. April features...The Herring Run! The Herring Run should more appropriately be called The Herring Leap or The Fish Olympics. It is an amazing demonstration of incredible strength in such a small little fish and it is a sight to behold. On the Cape we say, “You know spring has sprung when the herring run,” because the herring can't run until the water temperature is at least 50 degrees. This is usually from around April 1st to mid-May. Herring are anadromous fish that are born in fresh water, spend their lives at sea, and then make the very difficult uphill journey back to freshwater to spawn. And they don't eat anything while they are on this journey! Basically, to get from the lower elevation of the sea to the higher elevation of the fresh water, these fish need to swim, jump, leap, and fight vigorously against the current until they finally arrive into the peaceful, calm, fresh, warm water to spawn. The herring we have here are repeat spawners and may live from seven to ten years. Whenever I see the herring 'run,’ I am amazed how few people are there to see it or even how few people know about it. When I watch a herring make that final leap into the calm fresh water, I cheer! I must look ridiculous, but I can't help myself.  


If you reserve Saturday Farm during April or early May, we'd be happy to give you directions to the Herring Run.