An East Kentucky Tour: Pine Mountain State Resort ParkAn East Kentucky Tour: Pine Mountain State Resort Park
Pine Mountain State Resort Park is named for the single mountain mass more than 25 miles wide and 125 miles long on the southeastern edge of Kentucky. Geologists call this mountain mass an “overthrust block,” pushed upward over centuries and overriding other rock layers. Elevations within the park rise from 2,000 feet at the park entrance to more than 3,200 feet in the northeast section. The state park lies within the 11,363-acre Kentucky Ridge State Forest. The natural stone of the area is also prominent in roads, bridges, hiking trails, a park lodge and other facilities crafted by stonemasons of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression. Although the park has been updated, these historic man-made touches have been preserved.
To view the park’s most famous feature, literally harnessed by man, follow Chained Rock Trail a half-mile down the mountain. The mammoth boulder, chained to a cliff by a 100-foot-long chain weighing 1.5 tons, became a publicity stunt in the 1930s, reported across the nation. The tale of the bound rock says local children and travelers alike were fearful that the rock, which hung “menacingly” over town, would tumble down and flatten Pineville. The “Chained Rock Club,” a group of citizens, obtained a chain from a quarry and securely fastened the boulder, ending children’s nightmares.
Preserving the natural scenery and life of the park is an ongoing project. About 780 acres of the southern slope of Pine Mountain are designated an official nature preserve to protect old-growth forest remnants.
“Few localities in Kentucky feature mature climax forest found in the Pine Mountain region… some parcels of old-growth forest feature trees that have matured 350 to 400 years,” says Dean Henson, park interpretive naturalist. Also shielded is the habitat of the pale corydalis, a fragile pink and yellow flower that occurs near sandstone outcroppings.
Park guests can choose to stay in comfort at the Herndon J. Evans Lodge, go rustic in a one- or two-bedroom cottage or spend a night under the stars at one of the primitive campsites. The lodge offers 30 rooms with mountain views, dining and the chance to view all 180 prints of wildlife artist Ray Harm, on display throughout the lodge. Reservations: 1-800-325-1712.
New to the park is Wasioto Winds Golf Course, an 18-hole championship course designed by Michael Hurdzan who plans courses to fit the natural environment. The course was designed to stay green most of the year because of the L-93 Bent Grass used. The links-style course includes five par 3 holes and five par 5s. Water comes into play from three lakes, wetlands, streams and scenic bridges that criss-cross the water. Information: 606/337-1066, 1-800-814-8002.
>>FOR MORE INFORMATION:
State park directions
One mile south of Pineville on U.S. 25E or 10 miles north of Middlesborough; or from I-75 south or north, take exit 19 to Corbin onto U.S. 25E to Pineville. Information: 606/337-3066 or 1-800-255-PARK.