Hinsdale Setbacks

Hinsdale Setbacks

Hinsdale, New Hampshire 03451

Official Website

Tips for Birding

The rail trail continues north and south of Hinsdale Setbacks for several miles. For a great one-way walk, leave a cart at the boat launch and another at the gas station about 3 miles north on NH-119. You can also walk south of the boat launch for a similar distance; the trail ends at a gravel parking lot off NH-63.

Birds of Interest

Bald Eagles nest in trees South of the parking area while Peregrine Falcons (best observed with a scope) nest on an the smokestack on the Vermont side of the river. Osprey nest on a nest platform on an island in the middle of the river. Other birds of note common here in season include Virginia Rail, Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Tree Swallow, and Northern Rough-Winged Swallow. Migration "celebrities" have included Acadian Flycatcher, Eurasian Widgeon, White-eyed Vireo, Red-throated Loon, Connecticut Warbler, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Brant, to name a few.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are common at this site, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows often breed in the stone embankment near the boat launch. Eastern Screech-Owl also is reliably encountered here at night, though usually only call. In fact, this is one of the more reliable places to hear them in New Hampshire, outside the coastal plain.

About this Location

The Hinsdale Setbacks are arguably the best birding destination in the area. A rail trail runs along the Connecticut River offering excellent views of migrating waterfowl while a diversity of vegetation along the trail hosts large migrating songbird fallouts in the spring and fall. A well-maintained, level, and wide trail is appropriate for all physical abilities.

From the center of Brattleboro, take VT-119 East/South past the train station, across the Connecticut River, and into New Hampshire. Continue for 4.8 miles and turn right into the parking area. The rail trail extends both North and South from here. There is also a trail that runs across a causeway and to a peninsula in the middle of the island. In the spring, this area is the best for hearing (and seeing if you are lucky) Virginia Rail, Marsh Wren, and Swamp Sparrow.

Anytime with open water is worth a visit, but peak migration season runs from mid-April until the end of May. March and April are great months to look for migrating waterfowl.


  • Restrooms on site

  • Wheelchair accessible trail

  • Entrance fee

Content from Birdwatching in New Hampshire and Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Last updated October 18, 2023