Birding · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Flat, wide paths with viewpoint platforms and lots of birds and wildlife to spot.
Open sunrise to sunset, gates close automatically at posted times.
A complete loop hike from the parking area off Rte 420/Wanamaker Ave to access the western half of the refuge. With flat, wide paths and viewing platforms along the way, this route provides visitors of all ages and abilities with a natural escape from the surrounding city. There are a few additional spur trails to lengthen your hike or vary return trips.
This hike differs from the John Heinz: East Loop
by exploring the tidal marsh along Darby Creek, while the eastern loop encircles the emergent wetland. An emergent wetland typically has plants growing through it year-round, while a tidal marsh has more inlets and waterways that fill and drain with the tides.
Need to Know
PA fishing license required for fishing within designated areas at the refuge.
Within a 20-minute drive from downtown Philly, this refuge has remained a quiet, natural oasis for visitors and wildlife alike. As such, it has been named an Important Birding Area by the National Audubon Society as a sanctuary for migrating birds and their nests.
For this hike, find the east-side parking area off Rte 420 and follow signage for the Tinicum Trail
. This hike heads in the counterclockwise direction so stay right at the first few intersections following the Tinicum Trail
until just before the two-mile mark at the second, easternmost intersection with the Darby Creek Trail
Turn left (north) here onto the Darby Creek Trail
as it follows the creek boundary past winding inlets of the tidal marsh. These can be explored by boat during low tide; head to the Visitor Center off Lindbergh Ave for more information. Continue west along the creek looking back over your shoulder for a view of the downtown skyline just above the trees.
Cross over the first, westernmost bridge and continue straight (west) onto a segment of the Woodland Trail
to return to the parking area.
Flora & Fauna
Deer, red-bellied turtles, songbirds, bald eagles, osprey, egrets, herons, owls, etc.
History & Background
Established in 1972 and renamed after the local U.S. House member, John Heinz, died in 1991.
Shared By: Zander Göpfert