Pennsylvania Highlands Geology

The Pennsylvania Highlands are the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The irregular ridges and deep valleys of this unique landscape feature common themes that reflect the region’s geology, which has influenced local history and land use. Much of the Pennsylvania Highlands are comprised of the Reading Prong Geologic Formation. The Reading Prong is found primarily in Berks, Bucks, Montgomery, and Northampton Counties.

Two types of rock are common to the erosion resistant, largely forested ridges of the Pennsylvania Highlands: diabase (basalt), and granitic gneiss and quartzite (see map). The diabase areas create natural limitations for agriculture and land development, due to the size and abundance of boulders. As a result, these areas feature large contiguous woodlands such as Hopewell Big Woods and Unami Hills.

The high iron content in the gneiss and quartzite rock ridges provided the raw material for the region’s industrial legacy of iron and steel. This legacy is reflected in the names of towns, historic sites and parks found throughout all thirteen counties of the Pennsylvania Highlands region: places such as Durham Furnace, Coventry Forge, Hopewell Furnace, Johanna Furnace, Cornwall Furnace, and Pine Forge Furnace. The unique combination of forests, rocky hills, historic sites, industrial towns, and fertile limestone valleys makes for a compelling story to be told through interpretive signage and online tools, enhancing the experience of trail users.

News

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Highlands funding doubled in 2019 spending bill

Signed by the President on February 15th, the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Omnibus Appropriations package has allocated $20 million for the Highlands Conservation Act, a 100% increase from Fiscal Year 2018 levels.  Read More

PHTN 2018 Accomplishments

2018 was another busy year for AMC staff, the PHTN Steering Committee and the volunteer Highlands Trail Stewards.  Read on for last year’s accomplishments. Read More

Highlight the Highlands: Winter Events and Things to Do

The winter holidays are a time of joy, fun, family, and friends. However, it can also be a time of heavy eating, staying inside, and falling behind on routines. Are you looking for a way to enjoy the Pennsylvania Highlands over your winter break? Read More

PA Highlands Coalition hosts return on environment studies webinar

On December 10th, the PA Highlands Coalition held a webinar on the emerging research in return on environment studies. This webinar focused on the ways the benefits of nature and open space can be quantified to influence local planning and policy decisions. This research has been conducted in multiple counties throughout the PA Highlands by our partners. Read More