Information on:

Philadelphia - John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

8601 Lindbergh Boulevard


The history of Tinicum Marsh, the largest remaining freshwater tidal wetland Pennsylvania goes back to the first settlements in the region in 1634.  Swedes, Dutch and English diked and drained parts of the marsh for grazing.  At that time, the tidal marshes measured over 5,700 acres. The rapid urbanization since World War I, reduced tidal marshes to approximately 200 acres. The remnant of this once vast tidal marsh is protected by the refuge.

A diked, non-tidal area of 145 acres, adjacent to the eastern end of Tinicum Marsh, was donated by the Gulf Oil Corporation to the City of Philadelphia in 1955. This area, administered for the benefit of wildlife and people, was known as Tinicum Wildlife Preserve.  The areas of open water along with the adjacent heavily vegetated tidal wetlands, formed an ideal habitat for thousands of migratory waterfowl.

In 1969, the remaining area was threatened by plans to route Interstate 95 through it and by a sanitary landfill on the tidal wetlands.  These activities started a long series of injunctions, public hearings and extraordinary efforts by private and public groups to secure rerouting of the highway and termination of the landfill operation. Under legislation passed by Congress in 1972, authorization was given to the Secretary of the Interior to acquire 1200 acres to establish the Tinicum National Environmental Center.

In November 1991, in a bill sponsored by Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA), the name of the refuge was changed to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum to honor the late Senator who helped preserve Tinicum Marsh.


Christopher Udowenko

Tuesday, March 20, 2018
This may not be the prettiest place to visit but it is a great learning experience for everyone. They only have a few trails but if you choose the correct one it is a 3-5 mile hike. I usually choose the longer ones, when I have the time, because you get to the areas that most visitors do not see. With its proximity to the city and airport ,the views through the trees and over the pond are great. The staff in the main nature building are friendly and very knowledgeable. It is a great place to take the whole family, groups, and schools.


Thursday, April 12, 2018
This is one of my favorite local places. I can always find a secluded niche. I can just sit in my car and enjoy myself. Parking gets full on the weekend mornings in nice weather.

Linda Walker

Friday, April 13, 2018
It was wonderful to walk through the refuge! I saw the most beautiful hawk that perched on a branch which allowed me to get great photos of it. Also, there were swans, egrets, herons, big turtles and fabulous weather to go with all of the wild life.

Bill P

Friday, April 13, 2018
This place is a real gem! Well maintained trails for walking and biking, and open year- round from sunrise to sunset. Heinz is America's first urban refuge; preserved in 1972 it protects the largest freshwater tidal marsh in this part of Pennsylvania.

Cathleene George

Sunday, March 25, 2018
Beautiful trails to walk. Helpful staff in the education center. Refuge grounds kept clean and well maintained for our access. Can't wait to get back there when life returns to the grounds of the park and we can go fishing ;)

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media