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Rocky Mountain foothills near Denver, Colorado

Foothills or piedmont are geographically defined as gradual increases in elevation at the base of a mountain range, higher hill range or an upland area. They are a transition zone between plains and low relief hills and the adjacent topographically higher mountains, hills, and uplands.[1] Frequently foothills consist of alluvial fans, coalesced alluvial fans, and dissected plateaus.


Foothills primarily border mountains, especially those which are reached through low ridges that increase in size closer and closer to the mountain,[2] but can also border uplands and higher hills.[3]


Areas where foothills exist, or areas commonly referred to as the foothills, include the:


Another word for a foothill region is "piedmont", derived from "foot of the mount" in Romance languages.[4] The Piedmont region of Italy lies in the foothills of the Alps, and several other foothills in other parts of the world are called "piedmont", and include:

Ecosystems of piedmonts (foothills) are often known as submontane zones, relating to the higher montane ecosystems.


  1. ^ Easterbrook, Don J. (1999). Surface Processes and Landforms (second ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p. 530. ISBN 978-0-13-860958-0.
  2. ^ Juanico, Meliton B.; Agno, Lydia N. Physical Geography. Goodwill Trading Co., Inc. p. 113. ISBN 978-971-12-0113-5.
  3. ^ "foothill". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  4. ^ "piedmont". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)