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Town Analyses > Hinesburg > Physical Landscape

Topography

Hinesburg's varied topography becomes evident as soon as you drive into town. Coming from the west through the Champlain Valley, and passing through the center of town, you head up into the hilly forested areas that are the foothills of the Green Mountains. As noted in the section on bedrock geology, Hinesburg's landscape is dynamic, deeply influenced by the geologic history of the Champlain Thrust Fault running through its center and the forces that have has formed the base topography of the town. To the west of the thrust fault, the town lands sit below 600 feet elevation, and to the east, they rise up to 1600 feet above sea level with ridgelines that have spectacular views of the Green Mountains and the Champlain Valley.

This topography has, in turn, influenced the settlement and land use patterns of people, as well as hydrologic regimes. The steep, rocky slopes in the Town Forest were an ideal pasture for merino sheep, and when the sheep boom was long over, the rich clay soils of the western portion of town supported the continuation of valley farms. The drop in elevation along which Pond Brook flows supported a plethora of mills and the industrial town of Mechanicsville through the early 1900s. Today, the valley soils still support agriculture and the forested hills provide wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for area residents. And the topography continues to change, as forests continue to grow, agriculture and other land use changes the soils, the community grows and builds, and streams continue to wear away rock and change their paths.

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