Dispatch 08: Coordinates ~ Mentone, Alabama
DeKalb County • Little River • Lookout Mountain • Valley Head
Words and Photography TYLER THIGPEN
Mentone, Alabama, a place where it’s said that no one ends up by accident, sits on the west side of Lookout Mountain in the northeastern corner of the State. The town of 365 residents is home to a pottery and gourde outfit, art galleries and a handful of restaurants: Green Leaf Grill, Wildflower Café, Kamama, Little River Hardware Café, and Mentone Market being a few of note. Tomato pie can be found on most every menu in town, as if it was once declared the township’s official dish. Mentone Inn provides lodging and sits in walking distance of the these establishments.
Oddly enough, Mentone plays host to a fairly well-frequented snow ski resort, Cloudmont Ski Resort. When the temperature can sustain it, the establishment, in a locale where folks have no business snow skiing (or the climatic provisions to do so), employs a snow machine to powder the two slopes.
For those interested in more traditional outdoor adventures of the region, this remote Appalachian foothill town is a nature enthusiast’s dream with its close proximity to climbing, paddling, hiking, fishing and hunting opportunities.
Just a 30-minute drive south is Little River Canyon National Preserve—stretching across 15,000 acres—offering climbers multi- and single-pitch sandstone sport and trad routes and an abundance of boulder problems. For paddlers, the gorge’s river boasts runs ranging from warm-ups to Class III rapids. A drive 15 minutes south to Sand Rock yields more than 140 sport and trad climbing routes ranging from 5.8 to 5.13 in grade with opportunities for bouldering throughout its sandstone crags. Both locations supply numerous hiking and backpacking options.
Avid anglers, up to the demanding approach, will find that the clear waters of the Canyon are home to native and exotic trout, six species of caddis flies, Redeye bass with a serious partiality for crank bait, Largemouth and Spotted bass, and brim. For duck hunters, Lake Guntersville, a reservoir of the Tennessee River just to the east of Mentone, provides a limit of big water, diving ducks (think: Canvasback, Goldeneye, and the likes).
And so, whether you mean to end up in Mentone, Alabama or not, there are plenty of ways to pass a good time. Visit the official Mentone site here and always #WonderForever.