John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge Trails

The John Heinz Wildlife Refuge encompasses 1000 acres spanning Philadelphia and Delaware County. It is tucked away near Philadelphia International Airport and preserves and protects the environment in this fragile portion of the Darby Creek. This site contains the largest remaining freshwater tidal wetland in the entire state.

Section of trail on the south-east end of the refuge
With more than 10 miles of trails, the refuge provides many areas for visitors to explore. Environmental education, interpretation, wildlife observation, photography, and fishing are all provided via access throughout the refuge’s extensive trail system. Kiosks and signs provide interpretive materials for trail users.

Within the trail, there is a 3.8 mile loop that features a lake and is accessible for hikers of all skill levels. Trails are open all year round from sunrise to sunset and leashed dogs are welcome. The trail features both paved and gravel surfaces, making it ideal for walking, jogging or cycling. The Heinz Refuge Trail is also part of the Circuit Trails network – trail planners and developers have identified a number of areas in which future trails can be constructed so that this existing trail can connect directly to the increasingly expanding system.

At the Visitor Center, refuge staff and volunteers are available to provide you with helpful information, including maps, brochures and checklists. There are also a number of exhibits to enjoy and a short film to view. Binoculars and fishing rods are available to borrow at the visitor center front desk.

Trail heads are located on the east and west end of the trails.

Darby Creek

The 4.5 mile segment of Darby Creek that flows through the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is unique and scenic. It winds through the largest freshwater marsh in Pennsylvania, which allows canoeists to see a variety of plants and animals. The refuge waters are tidal and navigable only within 2 hours before and after high tide.

Canoe and Kayak Trail

The Center invites you to take the following canoe tour of the refuge! As you enter the creek at thecanoe launch, you may see Canada geese feeding in the fields or a northern harrier (marsh hawk) soaring over the marsh. In the creek, you may see the eastern painted turtle or the state-endangered red-bellied turtle sunning on a log or rock. Hooded mergansers, pintails, shovelers and mallards are a few of the ducks that you may pass. Least bitterns, great egrets, black-crowned night herons and yellow warblers are among the species which nest on or near the refuge.

Muskrats, opossum, deer and raccoons are present as well, though some may be more readily seen at night. In spring, you will be treated to an array of wildflowers and migrating birds. By late spring and through the summer, the young birds will fledge and mature. In the fall, the influx of migrants is repeated. Even in winter, there is wildlife to see.

A canoe map is available that points out 10 places of interest you can view from the water, providing a memorable vision of this part of Delaware County.

John Heinz at Tinicum
8601 Lindbergh Blvd.

Hours: Open today · 6AM–9PM