Another Day, Another Refuge

Who knew a Wildlife Refuge was a great area for biking? Add to the list right next to Rail Trails! When I’ve driven to the airport in Philadelphia, I’ve noticed people biking on what appeared to be a paved path right beside I-95. I knew the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum was there, but I had never been. A bit of investigation discovered miles of trails for walking or biking. 

Just to round out a full Philadelphia experience, we packed Italian hoagies from WaWa and had a picnic lunch, sitting on the bench. I can almost see the statue of William Penn on top of City Hall. 

The path parallels busy and noisy Interstate 95 and then turns into a shady dirt-packed trail. 

You quickly forget the urban proximity of metropolitan Philadelphia. The Lenape Indians lived here and called the place Tennakon Minquas, “islands of the marsh.”

When European settlers arrived they drained and filled the marshes, gradually reducing 6000 acres to only 200.  In the 1960’s, local citizens understood the importance of the natural wetlands and fought to re-route I-95 and save the remaining Tinicum Marsh. 

Today the refuge’s nearly 1000 acres of woods, pond, marsh and meadow are dedicated to wildlife conservation and the environment. 

There is a Visitors Center with exhibits and educational programs and special events. 

It’s pretty cool to bike right across a marsh and stop to view water fowl in their natural habitat.

Autumn clematis drapes the trees in white blooms and the scent is beautiful.

I used to have this prolific vine growing on my deck pergola. I wonder if it is considered an invasive plant in the Refuge. 

There are guides and signs explaining the vital roles this marsh plays in so many ecological aspects. It just might be the human species that benefits most. How wonderful to have a place of respit to connect with nature, find relaxation, recreation and peaceful surroundings, right on the doorstep of a major city. Thank you Senator John Heinz and supporters for saving and preserving this amazing wetland area. 

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  1. Another interesting bike& trail report. Good for you two & good for us!

  2. Andra H Rudershausen says

    My mom was one of the original people fighting to preserve Tinicum marsh, as it was known in the sixties. I don’t remember if she persued
    preservation through her garden club, or the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, both of which she belonged to at the time.
    Her other big thing was the John Bartram house, which I have never been to.
    Looks like both are well worth a field trip!!!!!!!!

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