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John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

Pennsylvania’s largest remaining freshwater tidal marsh...

Photo courtesy John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

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With 1000 acres, ten miles of trails and many native wildlife and plants, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum protects the largest freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania.

The marsh is well-known among birdwatchers — 80 species nest here and 300 have been recorded.

Sporting enthusiasts like it too: there’s a canoe ramp open from sunrise to sunset to keep anglers happy, and the network of low-lying trails attracts joggers as well as walkers.

The Experience

Framed by the Philadelphia skyline, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum spans 1,200 acres and serves as a refuge for rare plants, resident and migratory birds, and earthbound animals including foxes and deer. The marsh is home to the coastal leopard frog, an endangered species in Pennsylvania.

After a visit to the visitor center, set out on foot or by bicycle on one of the 10 miles of trails that pass through various habitats.

The marsh is well-known among birdwatchers as 80 species nest here.

Keep the binoculars handy to look for the endangered red-bellied turtles that keep safe in the heavily vegetated wetlands or to catch a view of the bald eagles that visit regularly.

Walk the boardwalk and stop at the observation blinds to spot some of the hundreds of species of ducks, herons and other birds that have been seen here.

Also, bring a canoe to explore a stretch of Darby Creek and do a little fishing.

The History

Once a huge tidal wetland, diked and drained by early Swedish, Dutch and English farmers, the former Tinicum Marsh shrank to 200 acres during post-World War I urbanization.

In 1955, Gulf Oil donated a non-tidal tract that became the nucleus of a wildlife preserve that opened in 1972, after surviving threats of extinction from I-95 construction and a sanitary landfill.

Events & More

The refuge hosts plant and bird walks all year long.

Families can bring their littlest nature lovers to the Nature Tots! events, where children ages three to five explore nature with a refuge ranger.

Also, volunteers can meet up on every second Saturday of the month for Stewardship Saturdays to learn about the native plants at the refuge and help remove invasive ones.

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