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 Completes Circuit Trails Visual Assessment Pilot Project

The Appalachian Mountain Club has completed its Visual Assessment Pilot Project of a section of the Schuylkill River Trail in Montgomery and Berks Counties. Read More

2017 PHTN Accomplishments

2017 was a busy year for the PHTN Steering Committee and the volunteer Highlands Trail Stewards.  Read on for last year’s accomplishments. Read More

Lower Saucon Buys Highlands Open Space

Last month, Lower Saucon Township announced the purchase of 35 acres in the Northampton Highlands, part of the federally designated Pennsylvania Highlands. Read More

The Latest Highlands Trail Stewards Projects

November was a busy month for AMC’s all-volunteer trail crew, the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail Stewards, who have been working hard to improve trails in Bucks County.  Read More