Black Mountain


Black Mountain

Black Mountain, the highest point in Kentucky at 4,145 feet, is situated within a couple of hours from notable landmarks like Mt. Rogers, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Mount Mitchell. Although Kentucky is primarily known for its extensive cave systems rather than its mountains, Black Mountain stands out with its significant elevation.

Historically, the mountain has been underappreciated, with coal mining activities reaching its upper slopes and a high-voltage tower installed just a short distance from the summit. Previously, hikers needed a waiver to access the summit due to the presence of coal company employees, but this requirement dropped following the state's acquisition of the high point in 2018. Improvements to enhance the visitor experience are underway, with plans for a new lookout tower to provide better views from the summit.

Access Point

Navigate to Black Mountain Kentucky 40843.

Black Mountain rests on the border between Kentucky and Virginia. The closest interstate is I-81, and the mountain is approachable from various roads between Bristol, Tennessee, and Marion, Virginia. The key route to get to Black Mountain is Route 160, near Lynch, Kentucky. Route 160 is a scenic, winding mountain road, and the turn-off to the summit lies between the "Welcome to Virginia" and "Welcome to Kentucky" signs. The road is on the left from Virginia, and visitors can park at the base. The road to the summit is unmarked but easy to find, especially since it leads upward, and there is a tower at the summit.

Recommended Route

Visitors can drive near the summit via the mountain road for most of the year.

However, in winter, the road can become icy, making it safer to walk the 1.5 miles and ascend 250 feet to the summit. For this longer hike, follow the Black Mountain Trail.


Previously, a waiver was required to hike to Black Mountain's summit due to coal mining operations. With the state now owning the high point, no waiver is necessary. Visitors are encouraged to respect the land and follow any posted guidelines.

Lodging & Camping

Kingdom Come State Park, located several miles from Black Mountain, offers excellent hiking and camping opportunities. The park provides a great base for exploring the area and enjoying the natural beauty of Kentucky's highest point.


What is the best time of year to visit Black Mountain?

The best time to visit Black Mountain is from late spring to early fall when the weather is mild and the roads are clear. Winter can make the road to the summit icy, requiring a hike instead of a drive.

Do I need a permit or waiver to hike Black Mountain?

No, a waiver is no longer required to hike Black Mountain since the state took ownership of the high point.

Is the road to the summit of Black Mountain open year-round?

The road to the summit is usually accessible year-round, but it can become icy in the winter, making it safer to walk the last 1.5 miles.

Are there restroom facilities at Black Mountain?

There are no facilities at the summit of Black Mountain, so use the restroom in a nearby town before heading to the summit.

What is the elevation gain of the hike to the summit in winter?

During an icy winter, the hike from the base to the summit involves an elevation gain of approximately 250 feet over 1.5 miles.