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“Birds abound”

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum
Ranked #79 of 458 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Visit John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum! Come enjoy 10 miles of walking trails through wooded forests, an impoundment pond, and 300 acres of the largest remaining freshwater tidal marsh in PA. Visitors can also experience the marsh on the water through 4.5 mile of Darby Creek by canoe or kayak. Stop by the front desk to borrow binoculars or fishing rods. Refuge trails are open every day from sunrise to sunset, free of charge. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. The visitor center building is closed for all Federal holidays however the trails remain open. Darby Creek is tidal and navigable only within 2 hours before and after high tide. Boat Launch is located at the trailhead of Dike Trail. Visitors must provide their own canoe/kayak and life vests. John Heinz NWR offers year-round free recreational and educational programs. Check out the latest schedule at: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/John_Heinz/visit/upcomingevents.html FB @HeinzRefuge
Reviewed April 15, 2014

This preserve of marshland provides a great way to see one the last remaining areas of tidal marsh left in that part of Pennsylvania. They have both gravel or dirt trails with boardwalks and bridges for more marshy areas. A great aspect of the refuge is that you will be going along and be completely lost in the nature that surrounds you and then you'll get to a point and see the spires of downtown Philadelphia, bringing things back into perspective. Hiking/walking is also a great way to go as bikes are not allowed in all areas of the main loop. The wildlife, birds specifically, are one of the best attributes of the refuge. Check out the recent bird sightings on the refuge's website to get an idea of how many species there are to see!

1  Thank Mike191919
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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47 - 51 of 71 reviews

Reviewed September 28, 2013

I just got back from my first trip to John Heinz Wildlife Refuge - it was amazing. I liken it to Smithville Park in New Jersey... a big beautiful lake full of waterlilies, with a well-manicured trail that goes all the way around it. At one point, you can even see a peak of the Philadelphia skyline from the trail which was a nice treat.

I arrived at sunrise and saw plenty of deer, a raccoon, lots of gray squirrels, some gold finches, orioles, cardinals, wood ducks, blue herons, egrets, and many sparrows, finches, and sea gulls. The area is simply teeming with wildlife!

1  Thank micmac1007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 25, 2013

I have lived within 5 miles of this wonderful Wildlife Refuge for the past 40 years and just visited for the first time (Fall 2013). I recommend it for easy hiking, lush plantings and plentiful wildlife with lots of benches along the trails to sit and enjoy the surroundings. The trails are well maintained and the visitor center staff was friendly and helpful. Looking forward to revisiting, soon and in other seasons, too.

1  Thank BeaGL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2013

The Heinz should be considered a Philadelphia treasure. That such an environment (the largest freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania) is preserved in a bustling urban environment is truly commendable. And don't worry you'll be reminded that it is in an urban environment due to its proximity to I-95 and International Airport.

But let's get to the chase. While their might be larger, closer, and more developed parks to Philadelphia, i wonder if many of them have the natural visible wildlife diversity as the Heinz. On my visit, i caught a glimpse of a muskrat, several herrings, egrets, and rabbits, as well as heard a number of other birds i wasn't able to identify visually. The Heinz also has an extensive trail network (with the main loop around the pond/lake/lagoon being just over 3mi long) very well-marked. The trails are for the most part wide and improved enough for cycling, hiking, and jogging (activities which were going on during my visit). They also are relativity flat, making it easy for the beginner in these activities. Other activities are as well, such as fishing and kayaking. It's also nice to see that areas in which certain activities can and cannot take place are well-marked. The Heinz features a visitor/interpretative center on the grounds as well as plenty of parking. The Lindbergh entrance is not the only access point to the refuge, but it is the one with the most parking, information (where the visitor center is located), and access to activities.

That's not to say their aren't drawbacks. Your easily reminded that you're in an urban environment. While i can't speak for the refuge as a whole, but at least around the impoundment trail your can constantly hear the roar of engines from the airport (which is only a couple of miles away). The southern portions of the park also abut to I-95 and an active rail line. Both of which can produce plenty of noise, but are somewhat dampened by the vegetation. Don't be surprised to find some unsavory characters in the park or in the parking lot (where i noticed a couple soliciting for something). You are in an urban area. But the one big problem i had was getting to the Heinz. The signage directing you to it is almost non-existent. My recommendation, if you're not familiar with the area, bring a map or directions, otherwise you could easily just drive by it.

regardless though, if your want a nice day to explore a natural habitat that you don't find in SE Pennsylvania, i recommend the Heinz.

Thank boothy443
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 26, 2013

What a wonderful refuge in the middle of an urban landscape and as a bonus, close to the airport. I had a few hours before my plane left so spent some time birdwatching along the trails. Good parking, a nice visitor center and of course, the wildlife. Bring your mosquito repellant.
Be aware of navigating to the refuge with your google mapping app and searching for the Refuge. I was directed to a scrap yard a couple miles from the Visitor Center. It wasn't until I consulted the website, then entered 86th and Lindbergh, Philadelphia that I was directed to the Visitor Center.

Thank Seedlady50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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