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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Maria

Dog Adventures at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Turtles on a log in a wetland in Philadelphia
Turtles on a log always delight!

​One of the great things about Philly is that you don't have to travel far to take your dogs for an adventure. Last weekend we took our own dog Jax to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge (a 10 minute drive from Center City) for a wander around the wetlands just as signs of Spring were starting to emerge. We saw loads of turtles, birds and even a few fish jump right out of the water. Even though the parking lot was packed (it was the first warm weekend of the Spring), there are enough miles of trails that we didn't feel like we were right on top of other hikers/fishers/birdwatchers/dog walkers. In fact this gem is 1000 acres and is the largest remaining freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania.

Jax loved sniffing the trails and was happy to take a break when we stopped for 15 minutes to watch turtles on a log. (He didn't care about the turtles, but we loved watching them plop in the water and climb back up.)

A family walks with a dog on a boardwalk at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia
The boardwalk is one of our favorite spots! You can spot fish, tons of birdlife and turtles easily!
​Remember: Keep all dogs ON LEASH.

This is a treasured wildlife refuge and a fragile ecosystem. Be a good ambassador for dogs so we can enjoy this lovely spot for years to come. John Heinz was the nation's first "urban" wildlife refuge (designated in 1972) and we are so lucky to have this oasis so close to Center City Philadelphia. Let's make sure dog owners keep access to it by obeying the leash laws and other park users!

Trails are open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year. Aside from the trails there are tons of activities: Conservation talks/programs, pollinator gardens, canoeing/kayaking trails, fishing, birdwatching, etc. It's absolutely worth a day trip! (Jax approves!)


If you stop in the Visitor's Center they'll lend you binoculars and fishing gear!

A happy dog on a hike near a wetland in Philadelphia
Jax flashes a smile as we check out the wetlands at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
Go there:

8601 Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19153

There is plenty of parking, but sometimes the lots get full in the afternoons!

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