Spring in the Mountains of NE Alabama

Spring in the Mountains of NE Alabama
Wildflowers, Waterfall, and Walking Trails
By Patty Tucker
Photos by Patty Tucker

Spring in the mountains of NE Alabama is an aphrodisiac for the senses. It beautifully unfolds as lush green foliage awakens from the forest floor to the tops of the trees draped against a backdrop of deep azure blue sky. It progresses with the blooming of native plants like the pink flowers of Wild Azaleas attracting an array of colorful butterflies, the purple flowers of Trillium, the reddish shades of Sweet Shrub blossoms, the pink Lady Slipper, the purple flowers of the Eastern Redbud trees, fuchsia blooms of Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel and numerous other plants that dot the landscape.

Fort Payne Depot Museum
Extreme Maze Hike with True Adventure Sports
Campsites during fall on Lookout Mountain.
The spot Coffee Shop
Wildflower Cafe located in Mentone on Lookout Mountain Alabama.
Sunset at Brow Park in Mentone, Alabama

Many of these floras are currently in bloom along the hiking trails of DeSoto State Park, the Little River Canyon National Preserve, Buck’s Pocket State Park and High Falls Park and along your drive to these destinations. Some of the blooms are on shrubs head high while others have you studying the forest floor to discover what Mother Nature has brought to life at your feet. Blooms progress from early March into mid to late May, providing a feast for your senses of sight and smelling.

The walking trails at DeSoto State Park offer miles of exploring deep into the forest along tributaries and streams vibrant with blooms and lush greenery. Other trails open up to an expanse of huge boulders where the West Fork of Little River forges a path, polishing river rocks smooth, as it winds its way across Lookout Mountain. You will want to activate your sense of touch when you encounter these boulders as you take in their sun-drenched warmth to linger, sit a spell and appreciate your surroundings.

If you don’t feel like walking the trails at DeSoto State Park, then soar through the air above the trails on the Screaming Eagle zipline. This aerial adventure takes you through the canopy of the forest, over tops of boulders rising out of the ground to touch the sky, high above hikers traversing the trails, and to some heights of six-stories affording you majestic views of the park.

Foot paths and maintained trails at the other above-mentioned parks lead to rock outcroppings raised high above the forest floor looking into the vastness of space and vegetation that puts on a prolific show in every season. Other paths guide you along rivers and streams to the pinnacle of any number of waterfalls that cascades a short span to those that drop some 130 feet as you watch in amazement at the wonders of Nature itself.

This brings us to the sense of sound. This sensory organ is a powerful one that even those with limited hearing can experience high in the mountains of northeast Alabama. Stand next to one of our many powerful waterfalls on Lookout Mountain and Sand Mountain and you will feel the reverberations of water pulsing through your body as it thunders and cascades over rock cliffs into deep gorges. Feel the cool spray of water from a vigorous waterfall as it lifts on the breeze to gently touch your face. The sights, sounds and feel of cool water as rivers meander across the mountains is a wondrous thing to behold. You become one with nature and find an exhilarating sense of peace, an awakening to all your sensory perceptions.

You can’t leave these mountains without tasting the fine fare from an array of eateries that includes the Rim of the Canyon Café with their offerings of burgers, such as the Mushroom Rock Burger, Over the Falls and Hippy Hole Burgers, grilled chicken and fried bologna sandwiches, salads, sides and other tantalizing menu items.

The Old Gin Restaurant near Buck’s Pocket State Park is one not to be denied. You will find this business listed on Facebook at the restaurant’s name in Section, AL. Your eyes will smile when they see the plates of a rack of BBQ ribs, steaks, fried catfish, grilled shrimp, and chicken served up with skillet fried taters, baked sweet and white potatoes, mashed red potatoes, collard greens and many other delicious side items.

A trip to our neck of the woods is not complete without stopping in Mentone, high atop Lookout Mountain. A culinary feast awaits you here beginning with their farmers market in the parking lot of the Mentone Inn to the enchanting entrees at the Wildflower Café that includes homemade quiches, spinach salad, chicken salad, the Canyon Ground steak burger, Mediterranean pasta with sautéed vegetables and so much more.

The Mentone Market, serving Mentone for over 80 years, offers, aside from gasoline, local farm fresh produce, handmade goods, groceries for your stay in the mountains, craft and tap beer, fresh prepared meals from their Mentone Market menu and family packs to stock your cabin as you wind down after exploring every trail, crack and crevice these Appalachian Mountains affords. If in town on a Tuesday, be sure to make plans for their Taco Tuesday night!

Don’t settle down too quick for the night without going to Mentone Brow Park to enjoy a glorious sunset. Here, the mountains meet the sky. While sitting on the edge of Lookout Mountain, the sun prepares to bring the day to a close behind Sand Mountain that stretches out before you, the sky becoming luminescent in shades of rose, orange and purple, as the sun dips below the horizon. In that moment, you will feel as if Heaven has met earth itself.

Yes, Mother Nature tantalizes your senses and loves to draw you ever closer to the sights, smells and sounds nature provides. Venture out to enjoy our Wild Flowers, Water Falls and Walking Trails in the mountains of NE Alabama, remembering to “take only pictures. Leave only footprints”. Awaken your senses and feel more alive than you ever felt before! These mountains will do that to you. Pack plenty of clothes for your stay because you might not want to leave. Paradise awaits you.

**Please note that the DeSoto Falls Picnic area and upper parking area may be closed during your Spring visit due to ongoing dredging of the water above the dam at DeSoto Falls. However, Mentone and all other areas in DeSoto State Park remain open during this time.

Mentone Inn on Lookout Mountain in Alabama

Places to stay:

The Mentone Inn
6139 Alabama Highway 117
Mentone, AL 35984

DeSoto State Park
7104 DeSoto Parkway NE
Fort Payne, AL 35967

Wills Creek RV Park and Cabin
1310 Airport Road W.
Fort Payne, AL 35968

Hampton Inn
1201 Jordan Road SW
Fort Payne, AL 35968

Other Events and Activities:

The Screaming Eagle Aerial Adventures at DeSoto State Park
7104 DeSoto Parkway NE
Fort Payne, AL 35967

Yoga on the Mountain:
DeSoto State Park
7104 DeSoto Parkway NE

Dusk to Dark Yoga offered various dates through the Spring season.

May 10, 2022 – 30th Annual Wildflower Saturday at DeSoto State Park

May 12 – 14, 2022 – the U.S. Highway 11 Antique Alley Yard Sale

Wildflower Cafe located in Mentone on Lookout Mountain Alabama.


Rim of the Canyon Café
477 Alabama Highway 35
Fort Payne, AL
(Lookout Mountain, near the Little River Canyon National Preserve)

Wildflower Café
6007 Alabama Highway 117
Mentone, AL 35984

Mentone Market
5872 Alabama Highway 117
Mentone, AL 35984

camping in northeast alabama

Other places to visit:

Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel
County Rd. 165
(Located just outside of DeSoto State Park towards Mentone.)

The doors of this Memorial Chapel are once again open to the public since the covid pandemic. The history of this quaint chapel has roots that run deep of a man, Colonel Milford Howard, envisioning the chapel and his efforts to seeing it built, no matter the cost and with the help of the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps, the church was completed and dedicated in June of 1937. Howard would pass away December of the same year and the giant boulder inside the chapel became his final resting place when his ashes were placed inside the rock.
The Chapel is non-denominational and holds church service each Sunday at 10:00 a.m. All are welcome!

DeKalb County Public Lake
720 County Rd. 194
Sylvania, AL 35988

This 120-acre lake is a great place for fishing, birdwatching with easy sightings of the Belted Kingfisher, wood ducks and other waterfowl, as well as a road that follows along the lake serving as an excellent walking path. Other amenities include a boat ramp, two covered fishing piers, pavilions, public restrooms, concessions, and Jon boats, electric motors and batteries available for rent. Fishing licenses are required for fishing the lake and are available for purchase on premises.