Review: Rocks and Routes of the North Country

Looking for a straightforward introduction to the geology of New York’s North Country and the Adirondack region? Rocks and Routes of the North Country, written Bradford VanDiver, is an easily understood introduction to basic geologic concepts, the geology of the Adirondack region, and provides information on various geologic tours throughout the Adirondacks.

While not written specifically for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, this book is a good choice for anyone who hikes in the Adirondacks is is curious how the region's geology impacts its mountains, trails and recreational opportunities. 

Part I

Beginning with an introduction to basic geologic concepts, VanDiver explains enough geology so that readers will be able to understand concepts deeper in the book, but not so many that the average reader is lost in detail. He goes over basic concepts in mineralogy, rock types and formations and basic geologic processes.

Continuing on in Chapters 2 through 4, he continues introducing the reader to progressively more and more site-specific geology. He starts with an overview of the rocks that exist in the North Country, followed by the geology and physiographic setting of the Adirondacks in the greater geological context and finally closes his introduction to the North Country with a geological history of the area.

Part II

Part II of Rocks and Routes of the North Country outlines seven different driving field trips throughout the North Country to better explain and explore the geology of the area. These includes trips throughout the lowlands and St. Lawrence Valley, the Potsdam area, the Whiteface Mountain area and the geology along the Northway just to name a few.

Each field trip is broken down into its respective components and directions from each site to the next are given. The directions are clear and easy to follow and the descriptions of various sites to stop at are well described and easy to find. Anyone who picks up this book will be able to follow along on the field trips and learn something new about the geology of the area.

Part III

In Part III, VanDiver focuses on mineral collecting throughout the Adirondacks. He reviews the various minerals that are in existence throughout the North Country and provides information on where they can be collected, along with the rules and regulations pertaining to collecting samples.

For people interested in finding specific minerals, this section is quite interesting and useful. The Adirondacks contain a diverse assemblage of minerals and prospecting for them can be a fun and challenging pastime.

VanDiver also provides a bibliography of other books and writings on mineral exploration and prospecting in this section, which provides an excellent resource, should you be looking to find additional help on your rockhounding quests.

Part IV

Finally in the fourth section of Rocks and Routes of the North Country, Van Diver looks at how geology impacts recreation in the North Country. His review includes issues related to rock climbing, whitewater rafting and the hidden beauty of geologic features in the North Country. This section is an interesting and entertaining read on the various real world impacts that geology has (and you thought geology was just looking at rocks).

Is It Worth Buying?

The answer to that question is an unqualified “yes.” Rocks and Routes of the North Country is an excellent introduction to the geology of the entire North Country region of New York state. It is both a primer on geologic science in the area and a field guide that introduces readers to geology first hand on field trips. Then it’s also both a guide to mineral collecting in the area and a introduction to how geology impacts recreation in the area. It’s a whole bunch of things, but one of which it is not, is overwhelming.

Rocks and Routes of the North Country is written for the average reader without much geologic background in mind. Concepts are laid out and identified in the beginning and the discussed more fully throughout the book. In addition there is a glossary defining any technical terms used throughout the book and extensive bibliographies that can point you in the direction of more information should you want to research a topic further.

So get this book, read some history, then get out in the field and look at some rocks and then have a better understanding of the geologic history of the North Country and how that impacts the area today.