Reach for the sky at Kingdom Come State Park

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, September 29, 2021

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Kingdom Come State Park, with an elevation of 2,700 feet, is the crown jewel in the crest of Pine Mountain. Named after the popular Civil War novel, “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come,” by Kentucky author John Fox Jr., the park preserves 1,283 acres of unspoiled wilderness in the Cumberland area of Harlan County.

Some of the most extraordinary rock formations in the state are featured at this park including Log Rock, a natural sandstone bridge, and Raven Rock, a giant rock exposure that soars 290 feet into the air at a 45-degree angle.

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In the park, you will find four mountain top overlooks providing breathtaking views of Black Mountain and the Cumberland Plateau.

You’ll also have access to Little Shepherd Trail, a 38-mile road that spines along the top of the mountain from Harlan to Whitesburg.

Visitors may enjoy fishing, pedal boats, miniature golf, and large recreation areas along with a gift shop.

Kingdom Come’s overlooks are the highest and most numerous in the state park system. The park offers five developed overlooks to which visitors can drive, park, and enjoy. The Raven Rock overlook requires a hike to access the soaring sandstone outcrop.

Black Mountain Gazebo Overlook is the first overlook visitors discover when driving from U.S. 119. This provides a view encompassing the city of Cumberland, the Poor Fork River valley, and the girth of Black Mountain.

Located near the end of the park’s northeastern paved roads, Creech Overlook unfurls the great Cumberland Plateau beneath the visitor. Because Pine Mountain is taller than the hills to its north, a crisp autumn day yields an endless ocean of brilliant fall foliage.

After a short walk past stands of rhododendron and mountain laurel, visitors can admire the lush swath of earth beneath them at the park’s highest overlook, 12 O’clock Overlook. Raven Rock’s secluded sandstone perch gives two magnificent views. Southern Harlan County rests on the horizon, and beneath the visitor’s feet is an incredible landscape of weathered, sculpted rock.

The park has two large picnic shelters complete with grills and restrooms. The picnic shelters can be reserved for special occasions.

The 14 hiking trails which crisscross nearly 5 miles of rugged mountain terrain provide the opportunity to explore the park’s giant rock formations and scenic overlooks. All of the trails are fairly short in length (1/8-7/8 mile), but many trail routes may be combined for hikes of varying lengths and difficulty.

For the fishermen, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, and trout are fishing game in the 3.5-acre mountain lake available year-round. You can also enjoy paddle boating around the lake during the summer months.

There is primitive camping available year-round. For groups in search of a natural setting for meetings, the park offers a cave amphitheater with lighting and seating.

If you are looking for off-road and mountain biking adventure, the park is an access point for the Little Shepherd Trail, a 38-mile narrow road on top of Pine Mountain. The trail, or KY 1679, clings to the southern edge of Pine Mountain’s crest from the intersection of U.S. 421 at this location to U.S. 119 south of Whitesburg.