The U.S. Census Bureau defines the Northeast as consisting of the nine states north of the Pennsylvania-Maryland border: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. This region's varied topography includes such landforms as mountains, hills and plains, with sizeable rivers and lakes scattered throughout. The vast Appalachian Mountains cut through the heart of the Northeast, petering out into hills and plains toward the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes.
This 2,000-mile-long mountain chain forms the spine of eastern North America, extending from Alabama all the way through the Northeast to Quebec and Newfoundland. The Appalachians contain numerous smaller subranges, including the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Catskills of New York and the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Among the oldest mountain ranges on Earth, the Appalachians have been worn down over the millennia by erosion from water and wind. The chain is characterised by relatively low, rounded summits and extensive swathes of forests.
Although the Adirondacks of northeastern New York lie in close geographic proximity to the Appalachians, they are geologically distinct from the neighbouring chain. This circular group of mountains is bounded roughly by Lake Champlain to the east, the Mohawk River to the South, Lake Ontario to the west and the St. Lawrence River in Quebec to the north.
A rather high mountain range considering the small area it covers, more than 40 of the Adirondacks' summits rise above 4,000 feet. Most mountaintops are rounded like the Appalachians, though a few, such as Whiteface, feature sharp rock escarpments. The highest peak in this sparsely populated wilderness is Mt. Marcy at 5,344 feet.
The Atlantic Coastal Plain extends from Florida all the way up the eastern seaboard to Maine. It slopes gently upward from the ocean inland until merging into the foothills associated with the Appalachian Mountains. The plain is at its widest further south, narrowing in the New England states until fading out completely in Maine, where the hills of the Appalachians dip directly into the sea.
Pine barrens cover parts of the plain, including must of New Jersey, portions of Long Island and Cape Cod. Most of the major Northeast metropolises lie on the Atlantic Coastal Plain, including Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.
Rivers and Lakes
The northeast United States features numerous watersheds. The region's waterways flow either into the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system, the Ohio River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico or directly into the Atlantic Ocean, sometimes via bays, such as the Chesapeake or Delaware.
Major rivers include the Hudson, Susquehanna, Delaware, Connecticut and Ohio. Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are the two largest lakes. Smaller lakes and groups of lakes include New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee, central New York's Finger Lakes, Moosehead Lake in Maine and Lake Champlain, which straddles the Vermont-New York border.
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