Black Mountain

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.


From Cumberland, Kentucky, follow KY Route 160 south for 11 miles. From Appalachia, Virginia, and Business US Route 23, follow VA Route 68/North Inman Street for .2 miles. Turn right onto VA Route 160 and continue up the mountain for 8 miles. At the top of the mountain, turn onto the unsigned Black Mountain Ridge Road. The road will pass the Lynch FAA radar site after 1.4 miles. At 1.5 miles, turn left onto a dirt road that will lead to the top of Black Mountain. Do not continue straight as the road is gated and will lead to private property.

  • A white FAA sign will mark the start of Black Mountain Ridge Road.
  • Black Mountain Ridge Road is a well-driven gravel and dirt roadway that is not suitable for low-clearance vehicles. AWD/4WD capable vehicles are recommended but not required.
  • Black Mountain Ridge Road may be marked with various iterations of “No Trespassing” or “No Access” but the road is owned and maintained by the county. Do not meander from the dirt/gravel roadway onto private property, which is marked as such.
  • Black Mountain Ridge Road is not gated.
  • No waivers are required to drive Black Mountain Ridge Road or to access Black Mountain.


Black Mountain Weather

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