Refuge trails are open every day of the year 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. The refuge follows the Philadelphia School District closings during severe weather events.
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.
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.
The visitor center is an impressive facility, free to the public, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, and accessible by public and private transportation. The facility is visited by many schools and conservation organizations for classroom use and meeting space. The exhibits highlight the plants, wildlife, and their habitats found at John Heinz NWR. The building is also an important example of sustainable design and environmentally friendly construction.
The 4.5 mile tidal segment of Darby Creek that flows through the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is unique and scenic. It winds through the largest remaining freshwater tidal 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. Visitors must provide their own canoe/kayak and life vests.
Download the tide chart (pdf)
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The refuge protects a variety of habitats for birds in the highly urbanized landscape of greater Philadelphia. It has been designated as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. While most of the 300 plus avian species identified at the refuge utilize it as a migratory stopover, more than 80 species have been recorded nesting on the refuge over the years. Several species are also state listed as either threatened or endangered species or species of state or national management concern.