The park’s 2,600-acres provide important habitat and open space in the urban sprawl of southeastern Pennsylvania. Habitats within the park include:
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.
The park is home to many large, old trees, some dating back to colonial times. Oak, beech, walnut, maple, sycamore, hickory, and tulip poplar dominate the tree canopy. Dogwood, spicebush, and witch hazel trees make a colorful forest understory.
Many non-native trees and plants in the park were planted for landscaping many years ago.
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.
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.
The common birds brochure lists the birds most likely to be seen in the park and in which habitat:
Common Birds of Ridley Creek State Park (PDF)