The road up to Black Mountain is nearly impassable by motorized vehicles, between narrow tracks, foot-plus deep ruts, landslides, and lack of any guardrails or trees to stop your descent if you slide. Most recommendations are to park at the bottom and hike the two miles up and two miles back.
My hubris knows absolutely no bounds, so like two days prior, I went full send no notes and tried to take a 700lb cruiser style motorcycle up this 4x4 dirt, rock, and mud road.
Did I burn off a bunch of clutch since the bike isn’t meant to offroad? Yes. Did I arrive safely? Also yes. Did the FAA cops (there’s an FAA installation on the road up) question my sanity when they stopped me on the way back down? Why yes. Yes they did.
Mission accomplished. 6/50 down. Hubris intact.
A little bit of snow flurries. State HP #33
Only hiked from the “soccer ball” complex. The road was fine for a passenger to that point. It’s a very short walk from there.
Came from doing Mount Rogers. This was our 4th state highpoint in two days. Beautiful mountains.
#1 11-03-22 W/Lana. Drove from Grayson Highlands State Park (Mount Rogers) in 3+26.
The summit is not much, but the area is really nice
About a month after my first HP trip to the E/NE that got me #s 4-12...It's time for another trip E to NC, but I took a S/SE side trip to get a bunch more HPs. (HP 6 of 7 during this trip). Kind of sketchy drive to the top. Slightly creepy vibe at the top with the couple company facilities, and the tower that looks to be condemned. Decent plaque and USGS marker under the tower. Not much of a view, but on the way back down, there is a scenic overlook spot that has a nice view.
Cool drive on the way up but not many views from the top... coolest view would probably be at the scenic overlook right before you turn onto the road to head up to the high point for KY
Disappointing high point. Found the steep dirt road to be challenging for my car and I have no idea what I'd do if someone came the other way, it's simply not wide enough for 2 cars at many points. Radio towers and no views at top.
Beautiful drive with short walk on gravel road to the top. Close to Lynch KY.
Tired of drive-up highpoints so I decided to hike it, considering how rough the road is (lots of pot holes, very little paved) it wasn't a great hike. Ky should consider making a trail to the summit. The marker is on a boulder behind all of the fenced-in towers.
The "paved" road is less than half paved, one side, then the other side, sometimes nothing, frozen puddles that a vehicle will break through (24°), requires off road vehicle with high ground clearance if driving the "road." Use a good GPS app to confirm your route. I used GAIA GPS, worked great without mobile phone connection.
Drove to the Gap where the road sign said Kentucky HP. Parked the car and walked the road to the Summit, I felt that it was Justified!!
I took the less traveled road, HWY 38, from Harlan toward VA because Google maps shows an "old hwy 38" that connects to HWY 38 (a left turn from 38 to old 38 - 28.1 miles from Harlan). It also shows that "old hwy 38" becomes Black Mtn Ridge Road as it switches back and forth to the north and north east and goes over the private property of Black Mtn, KY to within 200 yards of it's true summit (unlike HWY 160 - the actual way to go - which gets you to within 1.5 miles from the true summit, and truly connects to Black Mtn Ridge Road).
Well, Old Hwy 38 isn't marked, and I couldn't find it. Plus I can tell you this, now that I have visited the summit of Black Mtn, Black Mtn Ridge Road is gated closed 200 yards from the summit for those trying to continue west. In other words even if I had found old hwy 38, and even if it did connect to Black Mtn Ridge Road, one still couldn't drive to the summit from HWY 38.
I ended up in Keokee VA (about 3.4 miles from the non-existing old Hwy 38), where I asked for directions to Black Mountain, and was sent SW to Hwy 421, 13 miles in the wrong direction.
At this point I took highways 421 to 58, and 58 to Big Stone Gap, then 23 to Inman to get on 160 and up to the VA/KY line to Black Mtn Ridge Road and 1.5 miles to the summit.
From Keokee, VA to Inman is only 10.6 miles - so asking for directions cost me 27 miles (which is about an hour on those windy roads).
Bottom line you can't 100% trust Google Maps, and you definitely can't trust hill billy directions to Black Mountain (hahaha).
I drove a Toyota Corolla with what appears to be 4 inches of ground clearance up the once paved but now weed infested and often washed away Black Mtn Ridge road to the Radar tower, then up the hill to just before where Black Mtn Ridge road is gated shut. At this point you can turn left and drive to the old Lookout tower, but not in a Toyota Corolla - anyways it's 200 yards to the old lookout tower and next to it you will see the summit plaque.
Windy roads through the coal mining country to the border of KY and VA. Road is pretty much dirt road . We parked about 500 ft from the top because the road was so rutty. Cold day with some snow showers. No view on the overcast day.
Second of five in a highpoint and whiskey trail driving vacation. Parked at the bottom of the road and walked the 1.5m to the top. Pleasant, easy walk ... quiet and serene. Not another soul in sight.
This one will be recounted many times over many drinks. A truly disastrous Airbnb experience to start the trip. When I woke up and found the mountain road, it had been police taped off and blocked. After a bit of searching found a new mountain/coal road, and going 5 MPH over deeply rutted and gouged dirt roads, made it to the top and signed the register.
HP 2 of 3 so far. Drove from Chillicothe, Ohio (around 172 miles away) on our way to Smokies. Really glad we drove my Nissan Xterra. Road was really rough. Not much to see at summit. Sign in book was inside a glass jelly jar. We put it inside a ziplock with a pen and a pencil to help protect it from the elements.
We read an article that said that improvements are on the way. Really hope so! Would love to come back to see it when it's completed.
First of 4 HP trip.
Not a place you want to be for long. Even the lookout tower is inaccessible and ragged. Drive to and fro is fairly pretty, however. I came from Mount Rogers where the access was blocked from ice storm. Have to make it another time for that one. First of back to back 11 hr driving days.
Views from summit are completely forested, and lookout tower needs repair. And finding the actual highpoint was a bit tricky navigating to...