Lookout Mountain Parkway travels through three states as it winds 93 miles along Lookout Mountain. The parkway affords scenic views and many recreational opportunities. The drive is particularly beautiful in spring, when the rhododendron and mountain laurel are in bloom, and in fall when the leaves are changing. The southern end of the parkway begins in northeast Alabama near Gadsden, at Noccalula Falls Park. Then AL Hwy 176 and County Road 89 take travelers through scenic Little River Canyon, past DeSoto State Park, and into the picturesque mountain town of Mentone, Alabama. The route turns onto AL Hwy 117 and crosses into Georgia, where travelers can detour into Cloudland Canyon State Park. GA Hwys 136 and 189 continue atop Lookout Mountain toward Chattanooga, Tennessee. Along the way visitors can stop at the well known attractions of Rock City and Ruby Falls. Here are the highlights of scenic stops along Lookout Mountain Parkway in northeast Alabama.
Noccalula Falls Park showcases a 90 foot waterfall that drops into a pretty gorge. The park also features hiking trails, caves, a botanical garden, an animal habitat exhibit, a deer park, and a Pioneer Village with historic structures. Admission to the park is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $3 for ages 4-12.
Little River Canyon is a scenic natural gorge where the river falls 1,350 feet over 12 miles. There are beautiful vistas from the canyon rim. Activities to enjoy include hiking, fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and picnicking. The Canyon Mouth Picnic Area is a popular day use area.
DeSoto State Park is one of Alabama’s most popular parks. Visitors can enjoy twenty miles of hiking trails and view a number of waterfalls, including DeSoto Falls which drops over 100 feet. The dam above the falls produced the state’s first hydroelectric power in the 1920s. Other amenities in the park include a restaurant, swimming pool, nature center with live animals, and campground.
The town of Mentone, Alabama was a popular health resort in the late 1800s, when people considered the area’s mineral springs to have healing properties. Today Mentone is a rustic mountain resort town with shops, restaurants, bed and breakfast inns, and cabins for rent. The town hosts large arts and crafts festivals in the spring and fall. A nearby dude ranch and golf resort also bring visitors to Mentone.
Lookout Mountain Parkway is part of the World’s Longest Yard Sale each August. Bargain hunters can follow the parkway and US Hwy 127 for more than 600 miles from Alabama to Michigan in search of great yard sale deals. The 4-day event has been featured on HGTV specials.