A Trip to the Black Mountain
By: Gary McBain
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 parks grand opening in May
of 2005. The park is free, the towns are ATV friendly,
and no ATV license or registration is required in
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
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
high school parking lot in the town of Evarts
where the trailhead is located.
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
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: