Things to Do in Philadelphia: Natural Places in the Philadelphia Area
Natural places are scattered all over the Delaware Valley. Here is a list of some of the special Philadelphia natural places that I write about in my nature journal and blog. This is not of a list of all the natural places in the Philly area.
Find a Natural Place or Park
Philadelphia and Its Country: Outdoor Activities
Find a state park
Natural Places and Their Events Around the Delaware Valley
Fairmount Park (Philadelphia) – Natural areas
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum (Philadelphia)
Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (Philadelphia)
Cape May Point State Park (New Jersey)
New Jersey Pinelands Commission (the Pine Barrens)
In Philly (Philadelphia County) Natural Places
Benjamin Rush State Park
This recently created park in northeast Philadelphia needs management and should be a wonderful asset to residents of the area.
City Hall Observation Deck, Philadelphia, PA
Climb to the top of Philadelphia’s City Hall as view the wide. flat Coastal Plain that the City of Brotherly Love sits in. Tower Observation Deck open Mon – Fri, 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. For tours and tower admission go to Room 121. http://www.visitphilly.com/history/philadelphia/city-hall/
Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
The natural areas of Fairmount Park are found in the Cobbs Creek, Fairmount, Pennypack, Poquessing, Tacony, and Wissahickon watersheds, as well as in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in the Delaware Estuary. Over half of the parks, 9,200 acres are natural with streams, woods, meadows, and wetlands. http://www.fairmountpark.org/EnvironmentMain.asp
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, South Philadelphia
The last remaining freshwater tidal marsh in Philadelphia. Over 300 species of birds visit the refugee and over 80 species nest there. The refugee will comprise over 1200 acres when land acquisition is completed. The refugee is on the Atlantic Coastal Plain.
Houston Meadow (sometimes called Andorra Meadow), Roxborough, Philadelphia
Part of the Wissahickon Valley Park of the Fairmount Park system. This part of the park is the most easily reachable from Ridge Ave. It is located down the street from the Andorra Shopping Center and behind Houston Playground. Cool natural meadow habitat with butterflies, raptors, and native plants. The meadow is located in the Piedmont region.
Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Roxborough, Philadelphia
The center is one of the first urban environmental centers in the US. The 340 acres and three miles of trails include meadows, ponds, wetlands, and forest. The center is in the Piedmont region. The Center provides workshops and classes for the public and for teachers (including ACT 48 credits). A wildlife rehabilitation clinic is on the grounds.
8480 Hagy’s Mill Road, Philadelphia, PA 19128, 215.482.7300
Wissahickon Valley Park, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA
One billion-year-old valley in the northwest section of Philadelphia. The valley is located in the Piedmont region.
Wissahickon Environmental Center at the Andorra Natural Area
Tree House, 300 Northwestern Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118 https://www.phila.gov/parks-rec-finder/#/location/56a8f87c7a8cee5e3a25b155
Bucks County, PA
Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Nature Preserve, New Hope, PA
This 134-acre wildflower preserve is a true treasure. Walking the trails in any season, yields discoveries of blooming native plants. There are over 800 species of native plants in the woodlands, meadows, and watercourses. http://www.bhwp.org/
Neshaminy State Park, Bucks County, PA
Tidal Marsh Natural Area: This 71-acre state park natural area encompasses part of the freshwater intertidal zone along the shores of the Delaware River and Neshaminy Creek. This area contains wetlands and unique plants. https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/NeshaminyStatePark/Pages/default.aspx
Silver Lake Nature Center, Bristol, Pa, Bucks County
This 235-acre natural area contains fascinating habitats including Coastal Plain woodlands, lake, marshes, fields, wet meadows, and an unglaciated bog. 1306 Bath Road, Bristol, PA 19007, (215) 785-1177
Tyler State Park, Bucks County, PA
The park consists of 1,711 acres. Three main habitats dominate Tyler State Park, forests, fields, and wetlands. The mixed hardwood forests are composed of oaks, maples, and walnuts and are a great habitat for forest birds like warblers, tanagers, thrushes, and vireos.
Delaware County, PA
Ridley Creek State Park, Delaware County, PA
Ridley Creek State Park encompasses over 2,606 acres of Delaware County woodlands and meadows. The gently rolling terrain of the park, bisected by Ridley Creek, is only 16 miles from center city Philadelphia. https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/RidleyCreekStatePark/Pages/default.aspx
Montgomery County, PA
Crosswicks Audubon Sanctuary, Jenkintown, PA
These 13 wooded acres are crisscrossed by meandering streams. It is a haven for birds. https://wyncoteaudubon.org/crosswicks-sanctuary/
Fort Washington State Park, Montgomery County, PA
From September 1st through October 31, a hawk watch takes place here. Over 31 raptor species migrate past the hawk watch deck at the Militia Hill entrance of the park. http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/fortwashington.aspx
New Jersey Natural Places
Pinelands National Reserve, New Jersey Pinelands Commission
This important ecological region is 1.1 million acres in size and occupies 22% of New Jersey’s land area. It is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston. The habitats consist of bogs, marshes, streams, and swamps. The Pinelands are in the outer Atlantic Coastal Plain. http://www.state.nj.us/pinelands/index.shtml
Maryland Natural Places
Conowingo Dam, Maryland (Cecil and Harford counties, 5 miles south of Pennsylvania border)
(to observe wintering Bald Eagles)
* Follow Rt. 1 South into Maryland (from the Blue Route, Rt 476, take exit 5 to US 1 South)
* Rt. 1 will cross over the Conowingo Dam which crosses the Susquehanna River
* Take the 1st left-hand turn (Shuffield Rd.)
* Watch for the next left turn, which is a sharp left, this road will take you down to the River
Trip time, about 1.5 hours
There are parking spaces, port-a-potties, and plenty of viewing spaces. A forested trail is to the right of the entrance where many species of birds can be found. Arrive in the morning to see the Bald Eagles fishing.