Located on Lookout Mountain just a short drive from both Fort Payne, Ala., and Chattanooga, Mentone is home to at least six summer camps, a golf and ski resort, and several inns.
The population of 370 regularly doubles during the summer, and winter sports lovers make the trek to town for the only skiing in Alabama.
Alabama's only ski resort, the Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort, is capable of making its own snow during winter months. In the summer, golfers make their way around the Saddle Rock Golf Course.
Visitors also flock to nearby DeSoto State Park and waterfalls.
- Compiled by staff writer Ansley Haman, [email protected] or 423-757-6481
BEST THING TO DO:
• Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort claims to be the "southeasternmost ski resort in the U.S." and provides two pony lifts taht carry skiers to elevations of 1,800 feet.
• The resort can begin to blow snow as soon as temperatures reach 28 degrees or colder and is open daily during snow season from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT and then 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. CDT.
• The resort is located at 721 County Road 614 in Mentone and can be reached at 256-634-4344.
• Not a cold weather fan? The resort also has a par-63 executive golf course.
Source: Cloudmont Ski Resort
DESOTO STATE PARK
Lace up your boots or pump up your mountain bike tires.
• This Alabama state park has 25 miles of hiking trails, including more than 11 miles of mountain biking terrain.
• Park highlights include a 360-yard Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail and DeSoto Falls, where the Little River drops 104 feet into a gorge.
• Wildflower blooming season ranges from March through October.
Source: Alabama State Parks
Mentone's Best-Kept Secret
Historic Hotel still draws guests
• The Mentone Springs Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Alabama, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is listed in "1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die."
• Built in 1884 by Dr. Frank Caldwell, of Pennsylvania, the Victorian hotel sits on the mountain's west brow.
• Now the hotel has a new restaurant, Alice's, named after Alice Mason, the girl who allegedly named the town after a place in France, and one of the current owner's grandmothers.
Source: Mentone Springs Hotel; Mentone Area Preservation Association
Capitalizing on color
• Rhododendron Festival - Locals gather to celebrate blooming rhododendrons with arts, crafts and food. (Brow Park on North Cool Street, May 17-19, 2013)
• Fall Colorfest - When leaves are at their peak, town residents enjoy arts and crafts, food vendors, a children's festival with inflatables, pony rides and a bonfire. (Brow Park on North Cool Street, Oct. 19-21, 2012)
Source: Wilma Fletcher, Town Clerk; Mentone Area Preservation Association
BEST PLACE IN TOWN TO EAT AND WHY
Fine small-town dining
• The Wildflower Café & Country Store (6007 Alabama Highway 117; open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT; Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. CDT; Sunday brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. CDT) offers casual food with organic, gluten-free and vegan options.
• The country store sells homemade natural and organic foods, gourmet coffee and gifts.
• Local art lines the café's walls, and the restaurant has been featured in "Southern Living" magazine.
Source: The Wildflower Café & Country Store
Alabama's two-season resort town
• Population: 370
• Biggest employers: Resorts and summer camps
• Number of miles from downtown Chattanooga: 46
• Landmarks or geographic features: Located on Lookout Mountain, the town takes advantage of its rural setting.
• Date founded: First house built in 1854; incorporated in 1936
• Historic info: Settled before the Civil War, the town became a popular tourist destination before the turn of the 20th century. Shortly thereafter a number of summer camps were established in and around Mentone.
• Most famous resident: Martha Berry, who went on to found Berry College in Rome, Ga.
• Odd/unique traditions: The town hosts bonfires on the Mentone Inn square on the Friday nights before each of its festivals.
• Unique characteristics/fun fact: The town still has eight youth summer camps in its immediate vicinity.
Source: Mentone Area Preservation Association, Town Clerk Wilma Fletcher.