Black Mountain stands as the highest peak in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, reaching an elevation of 4,139 feet. It is situated in Harlan County, near the Virginia border, overlooking the towns of Lynch, Kentucky, and Appalachia, Virginia.
This mountain range is a haven for biodiversity, hosting some species that are unique to the area and not found elsewhere in the state. It provides a habitat for endangered mammals and insects, such as the Indiana bat, masked shrew, New England cottontail, eastern small-footed myotis, and red-backed vole. Additionally, Black Mountain is home to unique species of beetles, snails, and boasts two rare bird species: the common raven and the brown creeper.
At the summit of Black Mountain, you’ll find a disused fire lookout tower along with six communication towers. The Lynch FAA Radar Site, established in 1963, plays a crucial role in identifying and tracking military and civilian aircraft while facilitating air-ground radio communication with these aircraft.
In 1998, Jericol Mining proposed a controversial plan for strip mining and mountaintop removal within 1,100 feet of Black Mountain. However, in 1999, the Commonwealth took action and purchased mineral and timber rights to the summit, preventing large-scale mining near the area. Due to its historical and ecological significance, the National Trust for Historic Preservation included Black Mountain on its annual list of the most endangered historic places in the nation in 2010. The listing emphasized that mining activities would not only endanger the natural beauty and ecology of the area but also hinder efforts to promote tourism in Lynch and Benham.
Currently, there is a project in progress to construct a 40-foot-high observation tower at the summit of Black Mountain, which would enhance visitors’ experiences and appreciation of the mountain’s splendor.