Black Mountain (08 October 2003)

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      [Ed: Imported from Americas Roof ‘Summit Trip Reports’ forum]
      [By: Mark Stauter on October 12 2003 at 4:26 PM]

      I left Travelers Rest, S.C., early on the morning of Wednesday, 8 October, bound for Black Mountain, the highest point in Kentucky.

      Beautiful clear early fall weather and the first tinge of color in the leaves made the drive very enjoyable. I approached the summit road via VA-160, a well-maintained mountain highway. Just at the VA/KY state line I turned left on the single-lane blacktop marked with a “No Trespassing” sign erected by the Penn Virginia Coal Company. I had my access waiver agreement with me, but as everyone else has noted, it wasn’t needed. Has anyone ever been asked to produce that thing? In any case there’s no active mining up there.

      As noted, the access road is a couple of miles long and single-lane, but I met no other vehicles and saw no other people during my visit. As you near the summit the FAA long-range radar facility is encountered on the right, and the blacktop stops there. You can park there or continue on a very short distance to the gated access road to the summit. I parked by the gate and walked up to the summit area.

      Like Sassafras Mountain in South Carolina, Black Mountain is disappointing. A trash-strewn antenna field, a couple of unmanned support buildings, and a decrepit observation tower occupy the high point. The tower is accessible only if you care to shinny up one of the legs to the ladder. Again, a fairly small investment could make this a very nice area. You would think that a state would want to show off its highest point and make it a significant tourist attraction.

      I believe this was my 19th state high point. I’m running out of easy ones!

      After reaching the summit at about 10:45a EDT, I returned to my car. As I jotted down my notes I noted some movement behind me. A large doe walked right behind my car and ambled down toward the radar site. And, she seemed perturbed rather than frightened when I followed after her in my Detroit iron.

      I left the area on KY-160, which descends to the interesting coal-mining region of southeastern Kentucky, and headed west toward home.

      Mark Stauter
      Rolla, Mo.

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