You won’t believe what you don’t know about the mountains right in your backyard. If you close your eyes and imagine a majestic, soaring mountain range, you’re probably thinking of the Himalayas, the Alps or even the Rockies.

But did you know that the Appalachian Mountains were once taller than the Himalayas?

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Photo Credit: Dave Allen The Appalachian Mountains, which range from Canada down through the southeastern United States, started forming 480 million years ago. Some scientists believe the Appalachians are the oldest mountains in the world. The birth of the Appalachian ranges marks the first of several mountain-building collisions that resulted in the formation of the supercontinent Pangaea. Because North America and Africa were connected, the Appalachians formed part of the same mountain chain as the Little Atlas in Morocco.

Are we blowing your mind yet?

 

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Photo Credit: Cartographer's Guild We can still see fragments of the supercontinent in various places along the Appalachian range, including Blowing Rock in North Carolina and Red Top Mountain in north Georgia. Flash forward about 200 million years and Pangea began to break up. As the supercontinent rifted apart, the forces that created the Appalachian Mountains were stilled. Weathering and erosion prevailed, and the mountains began to wear away. Jump ahead another 200 million years, and you can visit the modern day Appalachian range. Today, the highest peaks are about a third of the size of Everest.

Next time you’re hiking the Appalachians, remember to pay respect to your elder.

 

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Photo Credit: BucketTripper.com