What Is the Difference Between a Hill and a Mountain?

difference-between-hill-mountain Credit: Martin Fisch/CC-BY-SA 2.0

Many geologists classify a landform as a mountain if it is at least 300 meters or more above its surrounding topography. Mountains have steep sloping sides, rounded or sharp ridges, and a peak or summit. Hills are not as high or steep, but they do typically have an obvious summit.

The most obvious difference between a mountain and a hill is the name. Mountains are normally preceded by the term Mount, while hills do not typically have a formal identification. Hills are also rounder, softer in appearance and easier to climb. There is no standard method of determining if a large landform is a mountain or a hill, which makes their differences nebulous and difficult to identify. The United States and United Kingdom used to determine the two by height, but the height classification was abolished in the 1970s.