John Heinz Refuge Trail


Register for free!

Register for free with TrailLink today!

We're a non-profit all about helping you enjoy the outdoors
  • View over 30,000 miles of trail maps
  • Share your trail photos
  • Save your own favorite trails
  • Learn about new trails near you
  • Leave reviews for trails
  • Add new and edit existing trails

John Heinz Refuge Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Delaware, Philadelphia
Length: 7.7 miles
Trail end points: Lindbergh Blvd. and S. 86th St. (Philadelphia) and SR 420/Wanamaker Ave. near I-95 Exit 9A (Tinicum Township
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone, Gravel
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 8788372
Trail activities: Bike, Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking

With Unlimited:

  • Export to My Trail Guide
  • Create Guidebook
  • Download GPX
  • Download Offline Maps
  • Print Friendly Map
Upgrade Now

John Heinz Refuge Trail Description

The John Heinz Refuge Trail and various footpaths at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum stand in stark contrast to the urban setting that surrounds this refuge. At different points on this flat and hard-packed trail, you have views of the Philadelphia skyline, while your immediate surroundings encompass 1,000 acres of water, marsh grasses, and trees.

Expect to see lots of migratory birds here as this freshwater tidal marsh—the largest in Pennsylvania—is a resting and feeding spot for some 300 species of birds, as well as 80 nesting species. Deer, coyotes, raccoons, beavers, and otters are among the mammals that also make their home here, along with many fish and reptiles.

The marshland at the southwest corner of Philadelphia became the first urban refuge in 1972 after local citizens protested the proposed routing of I-95 through the area. Later, the refuge was named after late U.S. Senator John Heinz to honor his commitment to preserving the refuge. The refuge trail is part of the Circuit Trails, a developing 800-mile urban network of trails in Greater Philadelphia, of which about 350 miles are currently complete. It’s also on the East Coast Greenway that will eventually extend 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida.

The refuge is open sunrise–sunset; check the exact times for the season at the entrance gates. Bicycles are allowed only on designated service roads in the refuge. All visitors must remain on the trails, which comprise service roads and footpaths. While the refuge has an estimated 10 miles of trails and footpaths, about 9.4 miles are multiuse or maintained for hikers. Pets are allowed, but must be on a leash and must stay out of the water. Fishing is allowed with a Pennsylvania fishing license.

You can reach the refuge by bicycle on the Circuit Trails; by public transportation on bus line 37, 108, or 115; or by car. Starting at the main parking lot off Lindbergh Boulevard in southwestern Philadelphia, you’ll find the Cusano Environmental Education Center, where you can learn more about the refuge or take hikes led by volunteer naturalists. You’ll also find maps displaying the trails and footpaths, as well as wildlife observation areas and fishing platforms.

The main trail forms a figure eight along the shoreline of the impoundment lake and along Darby Creek, which flows into the Delaware River. Footpaths intersect along the way. Taking the right fork after leaving the parking lot (counterclockwise around the lake), you’ll encounter a boardwalk at 0.2 mile that crosses the lake. In 0.5 mile past the boardwalk, you’ll come to a two-story wildlife observation platform on the shoreline.

The southern side of the figure eight’s lower lobe passes alongside I-95 in the vicinity of the Philadelphia International Airport. At the extreme western end, a section of trail dead-ends at the point of a jetty beyond State Route 420/Wanamaker Avenue.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the eastern trailhead at the main entrance of John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum from I-95 N, take Exit 10 toward SR 291 E/ Bartram Ave. Merge onto SR 291 E/Gov. Printz Blvd., go 0.6 mile, and turn left to stay on SR 291/ Bartram Ave. Go 2.2 miles, and turn left onto S. 84th St. Go 0.7 mile, and turn left onto Lindbergh Blvd. Go 0.2 mile, and turn right into the refuge. The parking lot is 0.2 mile ahead.

To reach the eastern trailhead at the main entrance of John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum from I-95 S, take Exit 14 toward Bartram Ave./SR 291. Merge onto Bartram Ave., go 1.1 miles, and turn right onto S. 84th St. Go 0.7 mile, and turn left onto Lindbergh Blvd. Go 0.2 mile, and turn right into the refuge. The parking lot is 0.2 mile ahead.


To reach the western trailhead from I-95, take Exit 9B toward SR 420 N. Go about 0.1 mile north on SR 420 N/Wanamaker Ave., and look for parking on either side of Wanamaker Ave.

John Heinz Refuge Trail Reviews

This was a pretty nice trail. It is better for a mountain bike rather than a road bike. Most of it is either dirt or gravel.

Working at the airport and looking for a fun, easy run close by to suit my limited ability !! I ran around Derby lake which was about a 5k distance on double track trail. Trail was wide with no elevation, a little muddy after the rain but easily run able. Parking was easy, facilities were clean, run was fun. I will be back next time I’m in town !!

I took my bike (with mountain bike tires on it) and rode the loop. The path is wide and pretty smooth so you don't really need the mountain bike tires. Beautiful day, beautiful place, not overrun with too many people to make it difficult to ride without constantly stopping (wide paths help). The earlier you go, the more birds and wildlife you'll see. It's about a 45 minute ride up I-95 and worth it. Fish, boat, walk or ride, you'll enjoy your time here.


My 10 and 7 year olds had no problems keeping up. Great trails for little legs. So much to see here. They loved stopping along the way to read the signs and taking a look at the visitor center.

2 places to enter this trail. you will most likely see other bikers and hikers. multiple places/trails to explore. all flat no mountains to deal with. some of the off trails can be rough but that's the way i like it.

Trail Events

This trail does not have any events yet.
Be the first to add one!

Add an Event

Nearby Trails

Leiper-Smedley Trail

Pennsylvania - 2 miles

This trail connects the historic Thomas Leiper House (built in 1785) to Smedley Park, hence its name. The 2-mile multipurpose trail is mostly shaded...

Cobbs Creek Trail

Pennsylvania - 3.7 miles

Cobbs Creek Trail runs through the borough of Lansdowne, just west of Philadelphia. The paved pathway offers a scenic route along its tree-lined...

58th Street Greenway

Pennsylvania - 1.4 miles

Although just 1.4 miles long, the 58th Street Greenway is an important connector in the southwestern Philadelphia neighborhood of Kingsessing....


West Deptford Scenic Trail

New Jersey - 1.7 miles

For birders and other wildlife watchers, the short West Deptford Scenic Trail offers an opportunity for a remote and tranquil stroll through a...

Schuylkill River Trail

Pennsylvania - 71.7 miles

At one time an important thoroughfare for commerce carried by canal barges and railroad cars in southeastern Pennsylvania, the Schuylkill River...

Darby Creek Trail (Pennsylvania)

Pennsylvania - 1 miles

The Darby Creek Trail winds along a wooded creek through the western neighborhoods of Haverford Township, just outside of Philadelphia. The trail's...

Chester Creek Trail

Pennsylvania - 2.8 miles

The nearly 3-mile long Chester Creek Trail is finally a reality after nearly two decades of planning.  Phase 1 of the multi-use trail was opened to...

Pennsy Trail (PA)

Pennsylvania - 1.2 miles

The Pennsy Trail is a short, but sweet rail-trail located in Haverford Township, to the west of Philadelphia. The trail's southern and northern ends...

Ridley Creek State Park Trail

Pennsylvania - 4.8 miles

Located in Media Borough in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Ridley Creek State Park encompasses over 2,600 acres of woodlands and meadows. The park is...

MLK Drive Trail

Pennsylvania - 4.3 miles

Philadelphia's MLK Drive Trail offers a paved 4-mile route along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive that's popular for both transportation and recreation....

Delaware River Trail

Pennsylvania - 2.1 miles

The Delaware River Trail hugs the Philadelphia waterfront proving access to parks and recreational amenities. It's part of a larger effort called The...

Rail Park

Pennsylvania - 0.25 miles

Philadelphia’s Rail Park is an exciting project developing across Center City, which will connect several neighborhoods and provide access to...

Download the TrailLink mobile app and take TrailLink with you!
Support TrailLink and the Trails You Love in 2020!
Get a FREE guidebook when you join Rails-to-Trails Conservancy!

Explore by City

Explore by City

Explore by Activity

Explore by Activity

Log in to your account to:

  • View trail paths on the map
  • Save trails to your account
  • Add trails, edit descriptions
  • Share photos
  • Add reviews

Log in with Google


Register for free!

Join TrailLink (a non-profit) to view more than 30,000 miles of trail maps and more!

Register with Google