Photo by Noah Shatzer
About the Region
The South Mountain landscape is a distinct area of south-central Pennsylvania that is nearly a half-million acres in size and includes portions of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties. The folds of forested uplands that forms the South Mountain ridgeline run in a generally north-south direction and reach elevations of nearly two thousand feet. This ridgeline is the northern terminus of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a main geologic province of the Appalachian Mountains that originates in northern Georgia and ends here in south-central Pennsylvania.
There is more to the South Mountain landscape though: the forested uplands are surrounded by lower-laying, fertile valleys that have been inhabited and used as important transportation corridors since the Native America era. The Cumberland Valley is part of the “Great Valley,” a series of valley lowlands within the Appalachian Mountains system that stretches from northern Alabama to southern Canada.
Nearly one million people live within the four-county area of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties, and these people live amongst a wealth of unique natural and cultural features:
- The 85,000-acre Michaux State Forest
- The headwaters of high quality streams and the groundwater source of much of our clean, pure drinking water
- Native American quarry sites
- Civil War-era history and some of America’s most hallowed ground
- Historic furnace stacks and other remnants of the 19th-Centruy iron industry boom
- The Cumberland Valley and its rich, fertile soil – some of the most productive agricultural soils in the entire state
- The 20,000-acre “South Mountain Fruit Belt” along the eastern toe slopes of the mountains – which almost single-handedly positions Pennsylvania as America’s 4th-largest apple producing state
- Three state parks and one state environmental education center: Pine Grove Furnace, Caledonia, Mont Alto and Kings Gap.
- 60-plus miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail
- The Gettysburg National Military Park
And so much more…while no single element or feature defines the South Mountain landscape in and of itself, it’s the convergence of this diversity of natural, cultural, agricultural and recreational resources that makes this place special and unique.
What makes the South Mountain landscape unique or special?
We posed this question to our network of partners and supporters and the above word cloud captures the more than 140 responses that we received. The more frequently a word or phrase appeared in all of the responses, the larger it appears above. Tell us – what makes the South Mountain landscape unique or special to you?