Part of a 3.5 million acre greenway extending from south-central Pennsylvania to the Northwest corner of Connecticut.
The dense forests of this section of the Appalachian Mountains, located in Eastern Pennsylvania, are more than just a beautiful escape into the natural world. They also help to protect and supply clean drinking water millions of people, which is why the heavily forested region has recently been classified by Congress as ecologically significant.
In Pennsylvania, hikers, bicyclists and bird-watchers will recognize The Highlands by their local names, including Haycock Mountain, the slopes of Mine Hill and Rattlesnake Hill; and the watershed areas of Cooks Creek, Rapp Creek, Tinicum Creek and Tohickon Creek.
Forming a “greenbelt” of forests and farmland adjacent to the sprawling urban corridor from Philadelphia to Hartford, “The Highlands” provide a vital link of forest between the Berkshires and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Here, forested ridges and hundreds of lakes, ponds and reservoirs reflect the ever-changing moods of sun and wind, sky and clouds. The trees and the rocks are home to hawks, owls and eagles, native trout breed in the streams, and forests are home to black bear, river otters and bobcat.
Although the Highlands have been recognized as “a landscape of national significance,” by the US Forest Service, and as a “Special Resource Area” by the State of New Jersey, its vital open spaces are increasingly being lost to suburban sprawl, including over 5,000 acres annually in New York and New Jersey alone.
More than 14 million people visit the Highlands in all four states each year, which is more than Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks combined.
The New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, signed into law in 2004, sets new environmental standards that limit development in the ecologically sensitive areas.