Philly Visitor Guide
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
Framed by the Philadelphia skyline, these 1,200 acres are a refuge for rare plants, resident and migratory birds, and earthbound animals including foxes and deer. After a visit to the Cusano Environmental Education Center, set out on foot or by bicycle on one of the 10 miles of trails that pass through various habitats. Keep your binoculars handy to look for the endangered red-bellied turtle and southern leopard frogs that keep safe in the heavily vegetated wetlands. Walk the boardwalk and stop at the observation blinds to spot some of the 280 species of ducks, herons and other birds that have been seen here. Or bring your canoe to explore a stretch of Darby Creek and maybe do a little fishing. HistoryOnce 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.