Central Mountains Overview
Pennsylvania's Central Mountains lie, as their name states, in Central Pennsylvania around the state's Capitol of Harrisburg. This region is also commonly known as the Ridge and Valley Province of PA. One of the major geographic features of this area is the Susquehanna River, which bisects the eastern and western parts of this region. The highest summit in this region is at Flat Rock
with an elevation of 1,987 feet.
Berry Mountain and the Susquehanna River during a double rainbow.
As you can see, elevation is not the attraction of this region of summits. The area is known for its sweeping vistas of the Susquehanna River drainage along with great views to the surrounding ridges. Don't be fooled though, there are plenty of steep mountains in this region, characterized by steep cliffs near the ridge tops. The best example of this is Flat Rock, the highest summit. Other attractions to this area include wildlife, scenery, and solitude. The trails in the area are well maintained with the most famous of course being, the Appalachian Trail. It winds through the region from near Flat Rock, all the way up and beyond Hawk Mountain
to the northeast.
Ridges in this region are characterized by steep sloping sides (north and south) with sharp ridge tops that provide some nice and open rock vistas. Most of the summits in this group of mountains are concordinal. It is believed this effect was a result of the last ice age which carved at troughs while the meltwater from the glacier gouged out the river under the surface of the ice.
History and Developement
This region has long been famous for its history as a gateway into the mountains by the early settlers of the region. Long before the Europeans though, Native Americans lived in this region since about 13,000 BC(as known so far), which is at the end of the last Ice Age on the North American Continent. There are many famous sites in the area with the most popular being the Shoop Site in northern Dauphin County. Native Americans lived in relative peace in an agricultural/hunting based society which reached its end at the arrival of the Europeans. A series of forts were established along the Susquehanna River starting in Harrisburg and continuing north, all the way through the ridges, to Sunbury, PA and Fort Shikellamy. Many of the locations of these forts have historic markers today and some are in the process of being excavated to be rebuilt and opened to the public.
As it was in most places, this area was a place of high stress and tension as the Europeans moved farther inland and pushed the Native Americans out. The system of trails which exists on the ridges today are in a large part thanks to this time period. Both Natives and Whites built trails through the mountains for safe passage during this time of hostility. Many famous bands such as the Paxton Boys(who murdered Indians through Lancaster and Daupin Counties) helped to tragically exterminate the population and give the new settlers complete control of the region. There are many museums and monuments to mark the struggle that took place in gaining this area. A great place to start is at the State Museum in Harrisburg, PA.
In later years this area became a gateway of Transportation to the north and west. The Susquehanna River provided a natural corridor for moving goods and natural resources in great abundance to the manufacturing regions of the country. This area is known for its mining of Coal and other minerals. Moved by Railway and river barges alike, the regions natural resources were shipped all over the country to provide an energy source in this nations low resource margin.
This region also has a recreational father who paved the way in outdoor recreation and exploration of the area. His name was Ned Smith. Famous for his wildlife paintings, he was much more than just an artist. He was always in the woods and along the river enjoying all this wonderful area has to offer whether it be hiking, fishing, hunting, artifact collecting, or sketching in a quiet place in the woods.
There are many places to see!
Central PA State Parks
State Museum of Pennsylvania
Ned Smith Center for Nature and Arts
Fort Hunter Museum
The National Civil War Museum
For current and up to date weather, click on the link below!
WEATHER FOR PA's CENTRAL MOUNTAINS