Interesting facts about the Appalachian Mountains

appalachian mountains

The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America.

The Appalachian Mountains are the oldest mountain chain in North America. They first formed roughly 480 million years ago during the Ordovician Period.

The range is mostly located in the United States but extends into southeastern Canada, forming a zone from 160 to 480 kilometers (100 to 300 miles) wide, running from the island of Newfoundland 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) southwestward to Central Alabama in the United States.


This mountain range derives its name from the Apalachees – an Indian tribe inhabiting this region.

It once reached elevations similar to those of the Alps and the Rocky Mountains before naturally occurring erosion.

The individual mountains average around 900 meters (3,000 feet) in height.

The tallest mountain is Mount Mitchell in North Carolina, with an elevation of 2,037 meters (6,684 feet) above sea level. It is also the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi River as well as the highest point in eastern North America.

mount mitchell

Another interesting peak is Mount Washington in New Hampshire. This mountain is 1,916 meters (6,288 feet) above sea level and known for having extreme weather conditions. They have hurricane force winds at the summit, on about 100 days every year!

mount washington

The whole range can be broadly divided into three sections: the northern section, central section, and the southern section. The northern section extends from Newfoundland and Labrador province in Canada to Hudson River in New York. The central section extends from the Hudson Valley to the New River. And lastly, the southern section extends from the New River to Maine.

American states that are part of the Appalachians include Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, along with the northern part of Georgia, western South Carolina and southern Ohio.

Famous ranges of the Appalachians include the Great Smoky Mountains [photo below], Blue Ridge, Black Mountains, White Mountains, Green Mountains…

great smoky mountains national park

Important geographical areas of the Appalachian Mountains include the Allegheny and Cumberland plateaus and The Great Appalachian Valley.

The Appalachian Trail is about 3,500 kilometer (2,200 miles) long public footpath that traverses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains.

The primary habitat of this region is mainly made up of temperate forests. The secondary habitat is made up of mixed-deciduous and boreal forests. The list of tree species found in the Appalachians include trees like mountain ash, red spruce, black spruce, white pine, yellow birch, eastern hemlock, Balsam fir, Fraser fir, etc.


The wildlife in the Appalachian Mountains includes a wide variety of mammals (moose, white-tailed deer, black bears, beaver, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, opossums, skunks, groundhogs, porcupines, bats, weasels, shrews, minks), birds (hawks, woodpeckers, warblers, thrushes, wrens, nuthatches, flycatchers, sapsuckers, grouses), and reptiles and amphibians (frogs, salamanders, turtles, rattlesnakes, copperheads).

appalachian mountains deer

Since the mountain ranges span a couple of states in the country, it is dotted by 8 national forests and 6 major National Parks in the country.

Average annual temperatures range from below 10°C  (50°F) in the north to about 18°C (64°F) at the south end of the highlands.

Tourism is an outstanding industry. Rivers, lakes, and state parks provide lots of recreational activities. In the winter it snows in this region, and people come from all over to ski.

Traditional Appalachians relied on subsistence farming, with the mountain terrain allowing only scattered farming on relatively small amounts of tillable land.

appalachian mountains farm

The Appalachian Mountains contain major deposits of coal. Some parts of this mountain range are known to have metallic mineral deposits such as iron and zinc.

The 1859 discovery of commercial quantities of petroleum in the Appalachian mountains of western Pennsylvania started the modern United States petroleum industry. Recent discoveries of commercial natural gas deposits have once again focused oil industry attention on the Appalachian Basin.

The term Appalachia is used to refer to regions associated with the mountain range. It refers to the mountain range and the hills and plateau region around it.

The Appalachian Mountains were a dividing line between American colonists and Native American tribes.

A look at rocks exposed in today’s Appalachian mountains reveals elongated belts of folded and thrust faulted marine sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks and slivers of ancient ocean floor, which provides strong evidence that these rocks were deformed during plate collision.

Because North America and Africa were connected, the Appalachians formed part of the same mountain chain as the Little Atlas in Morocco. This mountain range, known as the Central Pangean Mountains, extended into Scotland, from the North America/Europe collision.