By Jeremy Patton
Chained Rock is located in Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Bell County, Kentucky.
From US-25E in Pineville, turn onto KY-382 at the Laurel Cove Entrance. Continue on KY-382 for several miles then turn right onto Chained Rock Road. Drive until it dead-ends at the parking area. Numerous signs are posted along the way.
The half-mile trek to Chained Rock Overlook is easy, with a boardwalk installed for much of the route. There are many steps and the return trip is uphill.
There are many sheer drops from Chained Rock without railings, so be extra careful if you take kids or pets.
It was a sunny, chilly day on 3/29/15 with a sharp wind sweeping the prominence. A plaque stated the following:
“Chained Rock is a boulder formation of Pine Mountain, 2200 feet above sea level.”
“The Chain, 101 feet long with seven pound links, was carried here by a four-mule team in two trips. It is anchored to the rock with pegs 1 1/2 x 24 inches concreated into holes, star drilled by hand.”
“In 1933, the Pineville Chain Rock Club, assisted by the Boy Scouts and the Civilian Conservation Corps, replaced an old chain with this chain to hold the rock which, by tradition, is to protect the city of Pineville, Kentucky.”
From below, the boulder appears to hang precariously over Pineville, but in truth it is a secure, jutting section of a massive outcrop. The chain is an elaborate gag, inspired by a local tradition that goes back more than a century.
The overlook provides dazzling views of the Cumberland River, surrounding mountains and the city of Pineville… and the chain, well, it adds a bit of charm; perhaps it helps the children of Pineville sleep better.
Much graffiti has been left by morons on the mountain, which is typical of landmarks that can be accessed too easily. If you can ignore that, Chained Rock is beautiful and would be stunning when the leaves turn.
Two developed overlooks are located along Chained Rock Road while driving to the parking lot. You will find the first at about 0.4 miles on your right. The second resides at approximately 0.7 miles. Both overlooks are so easily accessible that you can pull over and enjoy them without getting out of your vehicle.
Pineville Overlook is a developed perch accessible from the parking lot. A sign points the way to a small platform with railing.
On 10/16/16, Shane, Robert and I traveled to Chained Rock on a sunny, fall day. The weather was perfect, with just enough overcast to keep us white boys from getting sunburnt.
It had been more than a year since I visited Pine Mountain State Park. I ensured my friends that the half-mile Chained Rock Trail was easy, but the return trip was far steeper than I remembered. You are welcome guys!
We climbed to several news spots on Chained Rock that I had not attempted during my previous visit due to slick conditions, which provided some new and interesting photo opportunities.
We had the area to ourselves for most of our stay. A man later arrived with a couple of kids in tow. One child, perhaps seven years old, scrambled up to our position while his “guardian” walked around the corner. He then proceeded to carve into the stone using an object that I could not identify. “What are you doing?” I asked the little vandal. He froze and looked at me dumbfounded. “Don’t carve into the rock.” He blinked, stared for a moment then climbed down to rejoin his party without uttering a word.
During the encounter, I could feel my friends watching nervously, perhaps worried that I would lose my temper. Because he was a child who likely had not been taught respect, I held back my ire; I did not yell or curse. I hope that the kid learned a lesson.
While trekking back to the parking lot, we passed a fairly large group heading to the rock. We then spotted a man trailing behind, bent over with his pants around his ankles; he could not have been standing more than five feet from the trail. We paused to allow him to finish his business and pull his pants back up. He then shuffled past us with his head down. This is why I avoid humans.
Here is an important message for all you lazy poop-pants out there: If you hike often, you will eventually be forced to do the number two in the woods. There is a right and wrong way to go about it. For starters, you should move far from the trail and out of sight. This is courteous and more sanitary.
Aside from these irritating, if not mildly entertaining encounters, we had a good time. Thank you Shane and Robert for helping me get my mind off a troubled week.
Added 10/13/16 – Updated 10/16/16