Adventure Awaits: Thrilling Excursions in and Around Fort Payne, Alabama
Lookout Mountain Destinations
Visit Little River Canyon National Preserve:
This stunning national park features beautiful waterfalls, breathtaking vistas, and exciting hiking trails. Nature lovers should not miss Little River Canyon National Preserve, which is located right outside of Fort Payne, Alabama. The preserve is home to the Little River, which is the longest mountaintop river in the United States, as well as the impressive Little River Falls. The park is a fantastic spot for hiking, fishing, bird watching, or simply enjoying the great outdoors. In the summer, visitors can enjoy swimming or tubing in the river, and there are numerous picnic spots available as well.
After exploring the natural landscapes, you might want to visit the Little River Canyon Center, located at the entrance of the park. Operated by Jacksonville State University, the center serves as an educational facility, providing information about the preserve’s geology, wildlife, and history. It’s also where you can find park maps and attend ranger-led programs. With a gift shop and stunning architectural design, the center itself is worth a visit. The preserve also offers various scenic drives like the Canyon Mouth Park and Little River Falls, each offering a unique perspective of this geological wonder. For those seeking more thrills, rock climbing and whitewater paddling are also popular activities within the preserve. Little River Canyon National Preserve offers a world of natural beauty and outdoor adventure that is sure to captivate visitors of all ages.
Spend a Day at DeSoto State Park:
This sprawling park covers more than 3,500 acres and offers a plethora of outdoor activities. Enjoy a refreshing swim in the cool waters of DeSoto Falls, a 104-foot waterfall, or hike the park’s extensive trail system, which boasts over 30 miles of trails. For overnight guests, the park provides various accommodations from cabins, chalets, and campsites. Wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the diverse fauna and flora that call the park home. Don’t forget to bring a camera, as the park offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
After an active day of exploring, take some time to unwind in the DeSoto State Park Picnic Area. Nestled alongside the west fork of Little River, the picnic area offers a serene setting for a leisurely meal. If you’re interested in local history, don’t miss the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum located within the park. The museum offers a glimpse into the work of the CCC during the Great Depression, showcasing a variety of artifacts and historical photos. DeSoto State Park also features a number of special events throughout the year, from guided nature walks to educational workshops, making every visit a unique experience. Additionally, the park is also a popular destination for bird watching, with its Birding Trail offering an excellent chance to spot native and migratory species. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoorsman or a nature-loving novice, DeSoto State Park provides a welcoming environment full of adventure and discovery.
Explore Orbix Hot Glass:
Orbix Hot Glass is a local treasure, a glassblowing studio set in the natural beauty of Lookout Mountain. Watch skilled artisans as they transform molten glass into stunning works of art, or take a class and try your hand at this ancient art form. The studio also features a gallery where you can purchase unique glass items ranging from decorative bowls and vases to intricate sculptures. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or just curious about the glassblowing process, Orbix Hot Glass is sure to offer a memorable experience.
Hike the DeSoto Scout Trail:
Starting from Comer Scout Reservation and ending at DeSoto State Park, the DeSoto Scout Trail is a 16-mile trek that provides hikers with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. This challenging trail is perfect for those looking for a full-day adventure in nature. Along the way, you will encounter streams, waterfalls, deep forests, and the impressive gorge carved by the Little River. The trail is also home to diverse wildlife, including deer, foxes, and a variety of birds. Make sure to bring water and a camera – you’ll want to capture the scenic beauty!
Explore Lookout Mountain Parkway:
Known for its breathtaking scenery, the Lookout Mountain Parkway spans three states and offers many attractions along the way. Drive along the parkway to experience stunning vistas of the Appalachian Mountains and Tennessee Valley. The parkway is also home to charming small towns, antique shops, and local eateries where you can experience southern hospitality at its finest. In the fall, the parkway becomes particularly beautiful as the leaves change color, making it a popular route for autumn drives.
Discover Mentone, Alabama:
Tucked away atop Lookout Mountain in Northeast Alabama, Mentone is a charming, rustic town that’s renowned for its natural beauty and small-town atmosphere. Known as the “Home of the Brow,” this quaint mountain village offers breathtaking views of the valley below. The town is lined with unique boutiques, antique stores, and local eateries that provide an eclectic shopping and dining experience. Its historic district is home to log cabin-style buildings and old stone structures that add to its rustic charm. Throughout the year, Mentone hosts various festivals, including the Rhododendron Festival and Colorfest, which celebrate the region’s vibrant flora and arts scene.
But it’s the great outdoors that truly steals the show in Mentone. The town serves as a gateway to some of Alabama’s most beautiful natural attractions. Just minutes away, you’ll find DeSoto State Park and Little River Canyon National Preserve, both offering abundant opportunities for hiking, fishing, canoeing, and wildlife viewing. Not far from the town center, you can discover the mesmerizing DeSoto Falls, one of the tallest and most visited waterfalls in Alabama. For those who love adventure, there are numerous camps, including the historic Camp Skyline, that offer a range of outdoor activities. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or someone who simply enjoys tranquility, Mentone, Alabama, has something to offer.
Things to do in Fort Payne
Discover History at Fort Payne Depot Museum:
Housed in a historic 1800s train depot, the Fort Payne Depot Museum offers a glimpse into the past of this intriguing town. Exhibits cover various aspects of local history, including Native American culture, the Civil War, and the development of the railroad. There’s also a large collection of historic photographs, artifacts, and memorabilia that offer insight into what life was like in Fort Payne during different periods. The museum also hosts special events and exhibitions throughout the year, so there’s always something new to discover.
The Fort Payne Depot Museum is a treasure trove of knowledge and a must-visit for history enthusiasts. It’s not just a museum, it’s a time machine that takes you back to the days when Fort Payne was a bustling railroad town. One of the highlights of the museum is an authentically restored 1891 wood caboose, which stands as a testament to the town’s railroading history. The museum also features a diverse range of natural history exhibits, including a collection of native animal specimens and geological displays. Furthermore, it showcases exhibits on the textile industry that was once the lifeblood of the local economy. The knowledgeable staff members are always available to provide insightful information, making the Fort Payne Depot Museum a place of learning and exploration that keeps history alive for all its visitors.
Uncover the History at Fort Payne’s Hosiery Museum:
As the “Sock Capital of the World,” Fort Payne has a deep-rooted history in the hosiery industry that is beautifully showcased at the city’s Hosiery Museum. Located within the city’s oldest operating hosiery mill, the museum is a testament to the city’s industrial past. The exhibits offer a fascinating insight into the evolution of sock manufacturing, showcasing antique machinery, vintage photographs, and various artifacts related to the hosiery industry. Visitors will also learn about the rise and decline of Fort Payne’s hosiery industry, as well as the city’s role in making Alabama a leading sock producer in the world.
The Hosiery Museum is not just about the history of sock making, but also about the people who built this industry. It shares stories of workers and their families, shedding light on the social and economic impacts of the hosiery industry on the city’s development. Guided tours are offered, where knowledgeable staff delve into the intricacies of the sock-making process and the technological advancements that have transformed the industry over the years. If you’re interested in industrial history or the story of American labor, a visit to the Hosiery Museum in Fort Payne is sure to be a captivating experience.
Explore the Alabama Fan Club & Museum:
A must-see for any country music fan, the Alabama Fan Club & Museum is dedicated to the iconic band Alabama, all of whom hail from Fort Payne. The museum is filled with a vast collection of memorabilia from the band’s illustrious career, including costumes, instruments, awards, and handwritten lyrics. You’ll also find a wealth of information about the band’s history and their impact on the country music industry. The gift shop offers a variety of Alabama-themed items, making it a perfect place to pick up a unique souvenir.
Attend the Boom Days Heritage Celebration:
If you’re in Fort Payne in September, don’t miss the Boom Days Heritage Celebration. This annual festival celebrates the town’s history and culture with a wide range of activities. The event includes live music performances, art displays, a classic car show, and a diverse range of food vendors. Boom Days also features a special area for kids, making it a family-friendly event. This local tradition is a perfect opportunity to experience the warm hospitality of Fort Payne and engage with its vibrant community.
Stroll Through the Fort Payne Main Street Historic District:
Take a walk down memory lane in the Fort Payne Main Street Historic District, where you’ll find beautifully preserved buildings that date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This area, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, tells the story of Fort Payne’s growth during the industrial boom. Stop by the various boutiques, restaurants, and galleries that now occupy these historic buildings. Be sure to also check out the Fort Payne Opera House, a beautiful old theater that hosts live performances throughout the year.
Things to do on Sand Mountain
Explore Buck’s Pocket State Park:
Nestled in the Appalachian Mountain foothills of Northeast Alabama, Buck’s Pocket State Park is a hidden gem known for its rugged beauty. Spanning over 2,000 acres across three counties, the park is a haven for nature lovers. It boasts a deep canyon, which was carved by South Sauty Creek, and features a remarkable terrain replete with gorges, waterfalls, and diverse vegetation. The park provides a tranquil setting for outdoor pursuits, making it a perfect place for hiking, camping, and fishing. Moreover, with an abundance of wildlife, including numerous bird species, it’s a delight for animal enthusiasts and bird watchers alike.
Buck’s Pocket State Park is also known for its panoramic views. One of the best viewpoints in the park is at Point Rock, which overlooks the canyon and provides breathtaking vistas, especially during sunrise or sunset. The park has an extensive trail system that caters to hikers of different skill levels, including the 2-mile Indian House Trail that takes you to a mysterious rock formation resembling a small house. For those who wish to extend their visit, the park offers camping facilities with options for RV and tent camping. An intriguing local lore adds a touch of mystique to the park: it’s said that Buck’s Pocket is where defeated public officials go to lick their wounds after losing an election, giving the park an interesting place in local culture. Whether you’re drawn by its natural beauty or its folklore, Buck’s Pocket State Park provides a unique experience for visitors.
Discover the Wonders of Pisgah Gorge:
Located in Jackson County, Alabama, Pisgah Gorge is a nature lover’s paradise, often touted as one of the state’s best-kept secrets. Known for its spectacular views, diverse ecosystems, and a plethora of recreational opportunities, the gorge stretches over 200 acres and is home to two stunning waterfalls that tumble down the rugged terrain into the gorge below. As you hike through the Pisgah Gorge trail, you’ll witness an array of colorful wildflowers in the spring, stunning fall foliage in autumn, and a serene, snow-covered landscape in the winter.
In addition to its natural beauty, Pisgah Gorge is a hub for outdoor activities. It’s an excellent location for hiking, with well-marked trails that cater to both beginners and more advanced hikers. Bird watchers will enjoy spotting various bird species, and photographers will find plenty of amazing opportunities to capture the unique landscape. The rushing waters of the creek offer a peaceful soundtrack to a day spent exploring, and the numerous rock formations and cliffs create a dramatic backdrop. While in the area, visitors may also want to explore the nearby town of Pisgah, which offers a charming small-town atmosphere. With its breathtaking scenery and outdoor adventures, a visit to Pisgah Gorge offers a memorable escape into the natural beauty of Alabama.
Explore High Fall Park
High Fall Park, in rural Alabama, is an awe-inspiring natural spectacle that woos tourists from around the globe. Established near Grove Oak, this hidden gem features an impressive waterfall cascading 35 feet into the waters below, a sight that especially comes alive after a heavy rain, when the waterfall roars with newfound vigor. Steeped in rich foliage, the park presents a stunning tableau of vibrant colors across the changing seasons. The spring and summer seasons see the park draped in a lush carpet of greens, while the fall months paint the landscape in warm hues of reds, oranges, and yellows, making it an artist’s or a photographer’s delight.
This serene park spans across 25 acres, offering several recreational activities for nature lovers. High Fall Park provides ample space for picnicking, with well-maintained picnic tables and grills, making it an ideal spot for a family outing. Hiking trails wind their way around the park, offering stunning vistas of the landscape and culminating at the picturesque waterfall. An old wooden bridge spans the creek at the top of the falls, offering another vantage point for the waterfall, but also a piece of history to admire. Additionally, the park boasts a playground for the young ones and several campsites for those wishing to spend the night under the star-studded Alabama sky. For visitors of High Fall Park, the experience is always a blend of breathtaking natural beauty, rejuvenation, and peaceful respite.