The Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge, also called Blue Ridge Mountains, segment of the Appalachian Mountains in the United States, extending southwestward for 615 mi (990 km) from Carlisle, Pa., through parts of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, to Mt. Oglethorpe, Georgia. The range, a relatively narrow ridge, is 5 to 65 mi wide, with average heights of 2,000 to 4,000 ft (600 to 1,200 m). Included in the Blue Ridge system are the Black Mountains, with Mt. Mitchell (6,684 ft), in North Carolina, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River; and the Great Smoky and the Unaka mountains. Notable Blue Ridge peaks are Mt. Rogers (5,729 ft; highest point in Virginia); Sassafras Mountain (3,560 ft; highest point in South Carolina); Brasstown Bald (4,784 ft; highest point in Georgia); Stony Man (4,010 ft) and Hawksbill (4,049 ft) in Virginia; and Grandfather Mountain (5,964 ft) in North Carolina.

The whole region has been intricately dissected by many small streams, and three major rivers have cut gaps through the ridge—the Roanoke, James, and Potomac, all in Virginia. Beginning south of Front Royal, Va., the Skyline Drive runs through the Shenandoah National Park and connects at Rockfish Gap, Va., with Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic motor route that runs south to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The mountains lie within Chattahoochee, Cherokee, Nantahala, Pisgah, Jefferson, and George Washington national forests, and more than 700 varieties of trees and plants have been catalogued. The region, although known for its isolation, contains numerous small farms with picturesque log cabins. Intensive truck farming, tobacco production, and cattle raising are important activities. The hardwood forests of the Blue Ridge are a source of timber, and some minerals are worked.