The Appalachian Mountains are an ancient mountain range spanning the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. These mountains offer spectacular views, undisturbed natural habitats, and diverse recreational activities. They also have a rich cultural history, ranging from native American tribes to European settlers to modern-day inhabitants.
Appalachian Mountains Facts for Kids
- The Appalachian Mountains run from Alabama to Canada.
- The highest peak is Mount Mitchell in North Carolina.
- The range is over 1,500 miles long.
- It is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
- The Appalachian Mountains formed over 480 million years ago.
- The range is home to diverse plant and animal species.
The Appalachian Mountains span over 1,500 miles from Newfoundland, Canada, to Alabama in the U.S. These mountains measure up to 300 miles wide and average 3,000 feet tall. Their highest peak is Mt. Mitchell- 6,684 feet- which is also the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River, as well as in all of Eastern North America.
The Appalachian Mountains boast some incredible landscapes and landmark sites, making them a popular destination for hikers and campers alike. Offering commanding views of rolling hills, lush forests, open meadows, and peaceful valleys below- it’s easy to see why they’re such a sought-after spot! With its numerous trails and activities on offer, this mountain range promises an idyllic outdoor experience like no other!
Exploring the Mysteries of the Appalachian Range
Appalachian chain: a barrier to east-west movement. North-south ridgelines, valleys, and only a few passes cut through the range. Erie Canal is one of these; rivers, Mississippi or Atlantic, often the watershed. The term “Appalachia” refers to the whole region, including parts of 5 states and sometimes further east or west. Congress in 1965 created the Appalachian Regional Commission, including all of these areas.
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The History of the Range
Four hundred eighty million years ago, the massive Central Pangean Mountains formed from the collision of North America and Africa. These colossal peaks would become equal to today’s Alps and Rockies – a range spanning from Morocco’s Anti-Atlas Mountains to Scotland.
But, as time passed, Earth’s tectonic plates shifted, slowly eroding these peaks into today’s worn-down remains – the Appalachians. With countless millions of years of weathering, erosion, and seismic activity, what was once a great mountain chain is now an unforgettable testimony to our planet’s ever-changing history.
With a temperate climate, the Appalachian Mountain range’s annual temperatures stretch from the icy north to the mild south. At 50°F (10°C) and below in the northern area, warmth builds to approx. 64°F (18°C) at their southern end. Snow is an expected visitor in late autumn, winter, and spring within parts of this southerly region.
Squirrels thrive in the Appalachian forests. The eastern gray and fox squirrel are the most common, with the smaller southern flying squirrel prevalent too. At high elevations and colder climes, you can find red squirrels and northern flying squirrels.
Deer also inhabit these forests. Eastern cottontails and white-tailed deer are widely seen. White-tailed deer have increased due to wolf and cougar extirpation. Moose populate the north, and elk have come back through transplantation in the south-central region.
Grazing and browsing of plants by an overpopulation of large wildlife has led to damage of foliage, as well as the destruction of crops in the area. Conservation efforts must remain vigilant to protect Appalachia’s delicate ecosystem.
The Chic-Chocs, a mountain range in Quebec, boasts the only population of caribou south of the St. Lawrence River. Further down the Appalachian Mountains to Virginia and West Virginia, small scattered numbers of varying snowshoe hares have been spotted.
The beaver has thrived since its near-extinction days due to its prized pelt. Beavers build dams and other structures across the mountains, triggering drastic habitat changes.
Common four-legged forest dwellers here include black bearings, skunks, raccoons, woodchucks, bobcats, and foxes–red and gray. Coyotes are recent arrivals on the scene; Europeans favored them over red and eastern wolves decades ago. Boars were also introduced to these parts in the early 20th century.
Wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, mourning doves, and common ravens soar through Appalachian forests. Wood ducks, great horned owls, barred owls, screech owls, red-tailed hawks, and red-shouldered hawks fly in chorus. Warblers trill overhead while salamanders scuttle across the forest floor unseen.
Amphibians contribute to nature’s symphony; newts abound, while wood frogs are known to hop in wide open spaces. Meanwhile, a wide variety of small frogs – spring peepers included – chirp sweetly amongst the debris. In fact, salamanders may be the largest animal biomass in Appalachia.
Such creatures are essential for biodiversity and nutrient cycling. Through their consumption of small life forms from land and sea, these amphibians deliver vital elements back into the ecosystem. Each species plays its role in maintaining a balance between the land and sky – a harmony that enriches life for all who pass through these ancient woods.
The black rat snake, one of the region’s biggest non-venomous species, is found winding through the dry terrain. The small but abundant common garter snake slithers nearby. Deadly vipers such as the American copperhead and timber rattler also lurk there.
The broad-headed skink is a magnificent sight to behold; its size can exceed 13 inches, and it excels at climbing and swimming.
Eastern box turtles live in the forests of Central and Southern Appalachia that range from lowlands to uplands.
Another notable aquatic species is the big common snapping turtle – an Appalachian staple.
Streamwater fish thrive in this corner of America, too, with minnows among the most populous and diverse varieties. Richly colored darters are also plentiful in these waters. And then there’s the wild brook trout – captivatingly speckled and beloved for its recreational value by many anglers.
List of Animals found in the Appalachian Mountains
- Black bear
- White-tailed deer
- Wild turkey
- Eastern coyote
- Gray fox
- Red fox
- River otter
- Eastern chipmunk
- Eastern grey squirrel
- Northern flying squirrel
- Eastern red bat
- Indiana bat
- Eastern cottontail rabbit
- Eastern box turtle
- Garter snake
- Timber rattlesnake
- Eastern copperhead snake
- Northern water snake.
Note: The list is not exhaustive, and different species of animals can be found in different regions within the Appalachian Mountains.
The Appalachian Trail offers a wealth of flora. More than two thousand species revel in its habitat, with two hundred exclusively native to the south.
Indeed, blossoms abound – rhododendron and azaleas, mountain laurel, and more. Trees herald red spruce, balsam fir and sugar maple, beech and ash, birch and red oak, white oak, poplar, walnut, sycamore, and yellow poplar among them.
Mushrooms flourish in step alongside ferns and mosses; grasses stretch beneath them all. Plus, hemlock and chestnut oak crowding on everywhere!
It is an immaculate tapestry of nature, ready for exploration.