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Ascent of Black Mountain on 2013-06-22

Climber: Boyd Harter

Others in Party:Gwen
Quintin
Aspen
Carson
Date:Saturday, June 22, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Summit:Car
Peak:Black Mountain
    Location:USA-Kentucky
    Elevation:4139 ft / 1261 m

Ascent Trip Report

Summited Black Mountain during a drive from Virginia's Mt Rogers to Gatlinburg, TN. This is a week long trip where my family summited the high-points of VA, KY, TN, NC, SC, GA, AL, FL.

After driving for a couple hours we arrived at the high-point turnoff. This was after enduring the twists and turns of KY-160. This is definitely coal country. It is amazing to see what the coal companies can do to a mountain. It is beautiful in a strangely ugly way. As others have said, the turnoff is right on a sharp turn in the road located right between the Virginia and Kentucky state line welcome signs. It is not marked as Black Mountain or a high-point and there is no trailhead, just a poorly maintained road. When we arrived at the turnoff there was a security guard sitting in his truck at the turnoff. He was very nice and pointed out the correct road to take to the high-point. I had my signed waivers in hand as I spoke with him, but he never asked to see them. Even if he wasn't there we would have found the route. If I remember correctly, there are two different roads at this turnoff. You will see the road branches off in a couple other places as well. It sounds more confusing than it is. If you keep following the road uphill you will arrive at the top. I think it was about 2miles on this road but don't hold me to exactly 2 miles. My point is do not grow concerned if you hike / drive a mile and haven't found any sign of the highpoint. When you arrive at your first tower you will see the road go straight (flat road) with a spur road leading uphill to the left. Go left. You will know you are there b/c there are a bunch of antennae and towers. There is a plaque commemorating the high-point status to the left of the tower area at the edge of the woods.

The high-point itself is somewhere between nondescript and ugly. Not as bad as Mississippi's high-point but still there is no reason to linger up here.

Now on to North Carolina and Mount Mitchell.

Our family camped in Grayson Highlands which is about a mile walk from the Massie Gap trailhead. Followed trail about a mile to the AT and the AT to the Mt Rogers summit spur trail and the top of Mt Rogers. My wife and three kids (7, 11, and 13) enjoyed the hike very much. Who knew hiking in this part of the country is as pretty as it is? We live about 5 hours from here and didn't know.

We were on the trail a little before 9am. There were cars in the Massie Gap parking lot but nowhere near full. we saw a sprinkling of people on our way to the summit but had the summit to ourselves for about 1/2 hour before the next hikers arrived. Going down was a different story. We passed by many hikers on their way up including at least one large summer camp group hiking the trail.

The 9mile RT went by quickly. The trail goes thru frequent changes of scenery which we enjoyed very much. The views, wild ponies, large rock outcroppings to climb, and rhododendrons in bloom made this a memorable highpoint, which is hard to say for many of the mid-Atlantic / southeastern high points.

Make sure to bring water, particularly in the hot summer months. We had about 2L each and finished it all before returning to our campsite (the kids tend to drink non-stop on lengthy hikes). We took about 5 hours or so which is faster than a pleasant walk but less than a forced march. The elevation gain is not really noticeable aside from a short stretch at the beginning of the trail. Not sure how important it might be, but there is a privy at the AT shelter. This seems to be about a mile before the summit. It is in good condition for what it is.

On to Kentucky and Black Mountain.

This is highpoint #16 for me.
#13 for my wife.
#12 for my sons
#11 for my daughter
Summary Total Data
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy



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