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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AMC Partners for New Signage on the Schuylkill River Trail

AMC partnered with the Schuylkill River Greenways National Historic Area and Union Township to produce an interpretive sign along the Schuylkill River Trail.  Read More

AMC Presents Trail Concept Plan to PHTN Steering Committee

On Monday, March 26th, AMC and its consultant, Campbell Thomas & Company, presented a conceptual trail plan for the Musser Scout Reservation, located in the Unami Forest of Montgomery County. Read More

Highlands Conservation Act Reauthorized in FY18 Omnibus Spending Bill

A major victory for land conservation in the four-state Highlands region was won late last week when the President signed the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Omnibus spending bill, which included both funding and reauthorization for the Highlands Conservation Act (HCA) through 2021. Read More

Richland Township Updates Open Space and Trails Map

Recently, Richland Township, Bucks County updated their Open Space and Trails Map to show the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail Network along with other park and trail resources. Read More