Black Mountain Climb Summary
Climb summary from PJAMM’s Dan Razum, Campbell, CA, USA
Rt 160 west starts in Appalachia, VA, about 2 miles from the start of the climb. You can park in Appalachia and
ride to the base of the climb as a warm up.
Appalachia, VA (pop. 1,590, 2017)
The climb starts out gentle and straight and you can see the peak of Black Mountain looming in the distance.
View of Black Mountain from mile .7 looking west.
After 2 miles you come to a hairpin turn and then it's twists and turns the rest of the way. The road surface is nice and smooth.
There is no shoulder but it's always 2 lanes wide and traffic is very light. You can hear cars before they arrive so you can avoid getting caught in a blind curve if you pay attention. The road winds it's way through the forest with rarely more than a couple hundred yards between curves.
The scenery is nice along the climb, starting with the forest along the lower slopes.
There are interesting rock formations where the road cuts into the hillside, sometimes with exposed seams of coal, reminding you of the history of the area.
As you climb higher you start to get nice views of the valley below. There are a couple of sections where it looks like you are approaching the peak but when you get there and go around the bend the road continues to climb, you aren't at the peak yet!
Eventually you do arrive at the top, where there is a parking area with an impressive view of the surrounding
mountains and valley below. The peak is also the state line with Kentucky and there is a sign stating the
elevation as 4145 feet, which is a bit strange because that is the elevation of the peak itself, the road passes
in a gap a few hundred feet lower.
Nevertheless, you have climbed quite a bit, it is a great workout. This is one of those climbs that seem to be made for bicycles, the surface is smooth, it is full of curves but not super steep, the scenery is very tranquil and there is little traffic. You can climb Black Mountain from the Kentucky side as well, but the Virginia side seems more enjoyable as a pure cycling experience, although we only get the love in KY with share the ride signs.