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Helen Woodruff Smith Bird Sanctuary

Several paths wind through this 32-acre bird sanctuary amongst tall towering pines which provide much of the forest cover. The terrain is very gentle with the exception of a few steeper slopes located near the back section of this property.
Trail Activity
Walking Hiking Mountain biking
1.60 miles, Network
Plainfield (NH)
Packed Earth/Dirt
Permitted on leash


The Meriden Bird Club was founded in December 1910 to advocate for bird protection in response to wasteful exploitation of birds for years for food, by egg collectors, and especially by a large feather trim industry for clothing/hats. In 1911 the Club became the first in the nation to own and maintain a sanctuary for birds thanks to a gift from Helen Woodruff Smith that enabled the purchase of the Watson Farm.

Several paths wind through this 32-acre bird sanctuary amongst tall towering pines which provide much of the forest cover. Microbursts and ice damage have changed the dynamics of the forest in the past decade. Some areas are now receiving more sunlight in recent years which has stimulated a variety of new undergrowth to take root. A large stone bird bath and various memorial plaques are located near the entrance. 

The primary trail is marked with blue blazes and is named after the founder of the Meriden Bird Club, naturalist and author, Ernest Harold Baynes. Duncan Trail, named after another former key club officer, Annie Duncan, is marked with green blazes. Ira's Trail, marked with yellow blazes, recognizes Mr. Townsend's love for trails and dedication to past maintenance of these trails. Red-blazed trails run from a grazed meadow to the back of the property where two steeper sections of trail are located.

Note: Hunting and trapping are not permitted.

Trail Manager

Visit Meriden Bird Club or Plainfield Trailblazers online for more information or contact:

Meriden Bird Club
PO Box 50
Plainfield, NH 03781
Phone: (603) 675-9274
View website
Plainfield Trailblazers
PO Box 111
Meriden, NH 03770
Phone: (603) 469-3845
View website

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Trailhead Information

From Route 120 at flashing light in Meriden, NH, turn onto Main Street heading past Kimball Union Academy. Park at the top of the hill to your right in front of the stone built Meriden Congregational Church. Walk west on grass path next to the Parish house until reaching the Bird Sanctuary entrance. 

Park in the village of Meriden in roadside spaces located in front of the stone church green. Walk west along a grassy path adjacent to the Parish house to reach the pillars and overhead beam marking the Bird Sanctuary entrance. Alternatively, if meetings are not being held at the Meriden Town Hall, parking is usually available at the back of the hall. The Sanctuary can be accessed from the back of the Town Hall or from the Main Street Meriden entrance.

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
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