Conservation Atlas Spotlight – South Mountain Faces

Conservation Atlas Spotlight –

Pennsylvania Highlands Conservation Atlas Story Map Spotlight – South Mountain Faces

To access the full Story Map, click HERE.

The AMC Mid-Atlantic office has updated and expanded the 2006 PA Highlands Conservation Atlas into 12 interactive Story Maps which include updated conserved lands, conservation areas, and historic and recreational resources, such as the PA Highlands Trail.

This atlas was developed to build awareness about the importance of the Pennsylvania Highlands region by portraying the special places and resources found there. It is also a call for action to help protect this incredible and threatened region.

Conservation Area:  South Mountain Faces (

Closing out our conservation atlas spotlight is South Mountain Faces, the southernmost expression of the Pennsylvania Highlands Region.

Sitting over 1,500 feet above the nearby Gettysburg Civil War Battlefield and located on the border of Adams, Franklin, and Cumberland Counties, South Mountain Faces is one of the largest distinct landforms of the Pennsylvania Highlands.

Natural Resources: The South Mountain Faces, created by the ridgeline of the South Mountain, includes the Narrows – a Critical Treasure that is known for its good water quality and excellent trout fishing.

South Mountain Faces Conservation Area within the PA Highlands
South Mountain Faces Conservation Area within the PA Highlands

The Conewago Creek cuts through this conservation area at a beautiful water gap which provides visitors passage from Adams County Fruit Belt to Buchanan Valley.

Seeps and springs create important wetland environments in the South Mountain Faces. Several Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Areas are found in this area including the Strawberry Hill Preserve. This preserve contains forests of varying ages, with older stands of eastern hemlock and yellow birch and mixed oaks.

The Arendtsville Narrows Ravine area supports a small population of lobed spleenwort, designated a plant Species of Special Concern by the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program.

Historical/Cultural Resources: Physical remnants of many indigenous people are found in the South Mountain Faces landscape, beginning in the Paleoindian period almost 10,000 years ago, up until European contact in the 1600s.

Many 18th and 19th century relics can be found in and around the South Mountain Faces thanks to the once thriving iron industry and due to its close proximity to Michaux State Forest, the oldest state forest in Pennsylvania, and Pine Grove Furnace State Park, which contains remnants of a charcoal-fired iron furnace.

Michaux State Forest’s original woodlands were cut in the 19th century to fuel the iron furnaces. Regeneration and replanting of this forest has resulted in hardwoods for sustainable timber harvesting.

Cultural areas and events within view of the South Mountain Faces include the National Apple Museum in Biglersville and the annual Apple Blossom and Apple Harvest Festivals.

Recreational Resources: Thanks to Michaux State Forest and Pine Grove Furnace State Park, there are many opportunities for hiking, camping, and bicycling throughout the South Mountain Faces landscape.

Interactive Map: Follow this link to explore the South Mountain Faces conservation area through an interactive map that shows climbing sites, critical treasures, fishing and boating access, park and recreation areas, cultural resources, Audubon Important Bird Areas, and more! South Mountain Faces (


Local Organizations:

Follow the links below to learn more about some organizations in the region that focus on conservation and land protection.

Adams County Conservation District 

Adams County Planning Commission 

Friends of Pine Grove Furnace State Park 

Land Conservancy of Adams County 

South Mountain Partnership 

The Conservation Fund