The Highest Point in Kentucky Has Breathtaking Views

Written by Justin Zipprich
Updated: July 28, 2023
Share on:


Key Points

  • Black Mountain is the highest point in Kentucky, towering over 500 feet above any other mountain in the state.
  • Visitors can drive up a winding road and take a gravel road to the summit, where they can enjoy stunning views of the Smoky Mountains and surrounding hills and valleys.
  • The area offers a variety of activities, including hiking, offroading, ziplining, and exploring the region’s rich coal mining history. Camping and lodging options are also available.
Black Mountain is the Highest Point in Kentucky
The summit of Black Mountain is privately owned and requires signing a waiver before you visit.

Tourists who visit Kentucky and want to learn everything there is to know about this fascinating state should make it a point to check out Black Mountain. As the highest point in Kentucky, it is an awe-inspiring sight that you can see and explore for yourself. Once at the top, you can look out at the breathtaking views and truly admire the glory of nature. Today, we will talk a bit more about Black Mountain and the interesting facts that make it so fascinating.

Black Mountain is the Highest Point in Kentucky

According to the fine folks at the Kentucky Aerial Photography & Elevation Data Program, the highest point in the state is Black Mountain, which is located in Harlan County. The mountain is near the Kentucky-Virginia state line, near the towns of Lynch and Benham. Folks who have lived in Kentucky for a long time may also affectionately call the area Katahrin’s Mountain.

This location is 500 feet taller than any other mountain in the state. It sits at 4,140 feet above mean sea level. From top-to-bottom, Black Mountain is over 2,500 feet. 

Visiting the Highest Point in Kentucky

view from Black Mountain

The amazing view from Black Mountain.


Your best bet for reaching the top of Black Mountain is to drive. To do so, you’ll take a winding road that starts on Route 160 between Lynch, KY, and Appalachia, VA. From there, you’ll take a road that will bring you up the mountain. As you reach the very top, you’ll hit a gravel road that will take you the rest of the way. 

Along the way, you’ll see many towers and coal mining areas, which is what the area was and continues to be known for, and it’s interesting to see the history. You’ll also pass by a Federal Aviation Administration radar dome, which is astonishing in its own right. You’ll know that you’ve reached the summit when you see an abandoned metal fire lookout tower. 

Once there, get out of the car and do some light hiking. Depending on when you visit Black Mountain, you will have the chance to see some amazing sights. If you visit on a clear day, then look out towards the Tennessee and North Carolina border, and you can see the amazing Smoky Mountains. If you look to the north, you can also see amazing hills and valleys, and you may even catch some wildlife. 

Altogether, the journey will take you about 2 hours and 21 minutes to complete. It’s a very scenic route, and you can take your time. It’s unlikely that you will see other tourists. The trail is open all year.

As an important note, keep in mind that the top of Black Mountain is technically private property, so before you visit, you’ll need to sign a waiver. That waiver can be printed and signed from this link.

Activities at Black Mountain

While there aren’t many sanctioned activities at the top of Black Mountain, there are plenty of fun adventures that you can experience at this highest point in Kentucky. 

There are many different hiking trails that offer various levels of difficulty for you and your family. There’s also an incredible zipline that will bring you down from the top of the mountain and through the forest. All-in-all, there are 7,000 acres to explore, and you can enjoy it by foot or in a vehicle. 

Interested parties can also check out the Black Mountain Off-Road Adventure Area, which offers many fun things to do. This is where you can take that awesome zipline trip, go offroading, and more. There’s also lodging available at the Quality Inn, The Little Inn of Harlan, Mount Aire Motel, the Plaza Motel, and more. There are also plenty of areas to set up camp with tents or RVs.

If you drove your RV to Black Mountain, you can park there as well. Spots are available for $30 per spot per night. They supply all the hook-ups you need, and you’re sure to have a great time with other campers.

Fun Facts About Black Mountain


Black Mountain is famous for its coal mines.

©Monika Gruszewicz/

In addition to the details discussed so far, there’s a lot more to learn about the highest point in Kentucky. Amaze your friends with these fun facts.

Visit During the Winter 

It may seem counterintuitive at first, but consider visiting Black Mountain during the winter if you have the time. There will be fewer tourists. Plus, there is less of a chance that work may be occurring in the coal mines which could delay your trip. You’ll also get to see the ice form on the rock walls, and it is truly incredible.

You’ll Often Have The Place to Yourself

Even though the winter season is beautiful, you can really visit Black Mountain any time during the year and you’ll still likely have the place to yourself. It’s a great place to go, so you can really focus on nature.

The Town is All About Coal

In addition to being known as the highest point in Kentucky, the Black Mountain area is also famous for being one of the coal mining centers of the United States. In its heyday, the town had a population of over 10,000. Since then, the population has dwindled. However, it’s very cool to see the hallowed-out veins where coal used to be found.

Where is Black Mountain Located on a Map?

Black Mountain, located in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, stands as the tallest peak in the state, boasting an impressive summit elevation of 4,145 feet above mean sea level. With a remarkable top-to-bottom height of over 2,500 feet, this majestic mountain offers breathtaking views and challenging terrain for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers seeking an exhilarating adventure in the natural beauty of Kentucky.

Here is Black Mountain on a map:


So there you have it, everything you need to know about Black Mountain, the highest point in Kentucky. This is truly a picturesque location that you won’t soon forget. Don’t forget to take your camera and extra batteries, because there’s a ton to see. Add this destination to your bucket list.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Danielsen_Photography/

Share on:
About the Author

Justin Zipprich is a writer at A-Z Animals, where his primary focus is travel, state facts, pets, and mammals. Justin has been writing and editing animal content for over 7 years, though he holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Instructional Technology from Western Illinois University, which he earned in 2005. As a resident of Texas, he loves discovering local animals and spending time with his wife and two kids.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.