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A Trip to the Black Mountain OHV Park
By: Gary McBain

The four of us stood looking down the valley. The town in the distance is four miles away and twenty six hundred feet below. “A long way down and a long way from Michigan,” I said as I removed my helmet.

The journey to the top of this mountain starts long before our five hundred mile drive from southeast Michigan to the Black Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Park in Harlan County, Kentucky.  The trip is prompted by an invitation from the President of the Harlan County Ridge Runner ATV Club who invited riders to go to the park’s grand opening in May of 2005. The park is free, the towns are ATV friendly, and no ATV license or registration is required in Kentucky.

Harlan County, like many areas of southeastern Kentucky, is a coal producing region that suffers economically as the price of coal fluctuates. Citizens and local officials look around the mountainous region and see the recreational potential of tens of thousands of acres of unused/abandoned coal property. With a development grant from the state, what starts as unused land quickly grows into hundreds of miles of trails on thirty thousand acres of off-road riding heaven. Another thirty thousand acres will open soon and new trails are opening every month.

With the help of newly printed park maps, one of our riders who attended the grand opening in May served as our guide. As the morning fog settled in the valley, he took us over wide gravel coal truck roads and through steep ravines. We climbed up Mount Baldy and traversed the boulders in “The Rock Garden.”  We rode the edges of cliffs and plowed through deep mud holes. We covered forty-seven miles and had the mountain to ourselves on that Friday morning in mid September.

The next morning, we joined The Harlan County Ridge Runner ATV Club and riders from Indiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky on a free guided group ride to Stone Mountain. The Ridge Runners organize free group guided rides nearly every weekend from the high school parking lot in the town of Evarts where the trailhead is located.

The Stone Mountain ride turns out to be an all day trip covering over seventy miles. The Ridge Runners took us up challenging steep mountain trails and along mountain ridges. Crossing through the “Hole in the Wall” into Virginia, we traversed three different ranges and drove through a number of small towns. On our trip, we mainly followed the intermediate trails but checked out the beginner course and threw in a couple advanced trails for excitement.

We arrive back in Evarts tired but excited at returning to the area as soon as we can. The Black Mountain OHV Park offers an outstanding experience for anyone who is interested in ATV riding. It is an ideal location for beginners, families, and advanced ATV adventurers alike.

For more information about Black Mountain OHV Park contact: http://www.harlancountytrails.com


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