“…frolic and play, the Eskimo Way – walking in a winter wonderland!”

January 2020

One of the most beautiful natural habitats in the entire Delaware Valley exists beneath and beside a spider web of superhighways, airport runways, and river byways. The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is a 1000-acre haven for hikers, kayakers, and literally hundreds of species of birds and mammals.

Established in 1972, it became America’s first urban wildlife refuge – and today it is where wildlife and humans meet among its reeds, trails, wetlands, and woods. While many come to visit in spring, summer and fall, walking and hiking in the heart of winter are both exhilarating and magical. Between bare branches, you can see the white tails of deer leaping in the distance…and the stunning colors of robins and cardinals blaze like gems amid the creamy whites and beiges of our mid-Atlantic winter.

Come alone, with friends, or pack up the family, the binoculars and a camera, and come blaze a trail at this beautiful Refuge. You’ll be treated to rare wildlife sightings, the haunting silence of a misty blanket of fog, and the magic that comes when your breath is visible and every step ‘crinkles’ on dried leaves or new snow. The Refuge is open dawn to dusk, though the visitor center opens at 8am. Admission is free but the sights are priceless.

Here are a few of the guided tours and events to consider:

FREE! Saturday, Jan 4th, 10-11am
Identify Trees in Winter Walk at Chester Avenue Community Garden.
Join a park ranger on a tree walk on Chester Ave. between 47th and 48th St.

FREE! Sunday, Jan 19th, 9 to 11am
Take a Bird Walk with Emily Dodge and discover some of the 300+ species of birds that use the Refuge during their migration routes. Walk participants meet by the Visitor Center, and the walk itself will be at a relaxed paced on flat surfaces. Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers. Binoculars can be borrowed from the front desk before the walk. No registration required.

FREE! Thursday, Jan 23rd, 4 to 5pm
Take a Winter Sunset Walk, the perfect time of day to enjoy nature and to look for wildlife! Join Refuge Staff in a guided sunset walk that begins at the Visitor Center and lasts approximately 1 hour at a relaxed pace. Dressing in layers and sturdy boots is recommended.

FREE! Thursday, Jan 30th, 4:30 to 5pm
See the Refuge on a Shuttle Tour! (Please register)
This shuttle tour will take you around the Refuge with many iconic stops along the way.

Stop! In the name of Love!

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: February 1st is their Annual Groundhog Day Festival, 9am to noon!

Whether you call them groundhogs or woodchucks, if you love these amazing little critters, come out of your winter burrow and join them for a family-friendly, indoor celebration featuring live music, crafts, games, exhibitors, plus live animal presentations, guided hikes, and even a life-size groundhog burrow for kids to explore!

The first hike departs at 9am and festival activities begin at 10am. No registration is required, come one and all! All walks and programs begin in the Visitor Center unless otherwise noted. All walks and programs are weather dependent; call the Refuge for more information. Registration and more Information

Ridley Creek State Park is located in the heart of Delaware County

Ridley Creek State Park encompasses 2,606-acres and offers many recreational activities, such as hiking, biking, fishing, cross country skiing and picnicking.

Ridley Creek passes through the park and highlights include a 5-mile paved multi-use trail and a formal garden designed by the Olmsted Brothers. The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, which is closed for the winter, recreates daily life on a pre-Revolutionary farm. The Mansion at Ridley Creek Park is pictured above. Photographed in winter by Pamela Cloud, it captures the warm beauty and history of the property, where many weddings and special events are held.

Admission to the park is free, and it is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset, including the restrooms in picnic areas.

There are 13 miles of walking and hiking trails that pass through a variety of habitats throughout the central portion of the park. The state mammal, the white-tailed deer, is common, along with fox, raccoon, rabbit, and squirrel. Great blue herons frequent Ridley Creek. Many species of songbirds can be seen and heard in the park.

Nature lovers may already know that the park is home to many large, old trees, some dating back to colonial times. The most rare and unique tree in the park is the large Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha) by the Hunting Hill Mansion. This short tree has large, shiny leaves that turn orange and red in the fall. The large, white flowers bloom during early autumn.

FUN FACT: During 1765, noted botanists John and William Bartram discovered the species growing in one spot in Georgia. A decade later, William collected seeds and planted them in Philadelphia. By 1803, the last Franklinia was extinct in the wild. All Franklin trees today are descendants of the first trees propagated by the Bartrams, and named for their friend Ben Franklin.

There are also 14 picnic areas with modern restrooms. Ridley Creek State Park Trail info, Maps and more