Prentice Cooper State Forest

Size: 24,686 acres / 9,990 ha. 

Prentice Cooper State Forest is located in southeastern Tennessee in Marion County, along the scenic Tennessee River Gorge. The forest is approximately 10 miles west of Chattanooga and is a very popular destination for visitors.

The property for Prentice Cooper was acquired by simple purchase between 1938 and 1944. The site was proclaimed a State Forest in 1945.

Regulated forests make up 69% of the tract and the remainder is protected by conservation designations. Approximately 6,939 acres are designated as unregulated scenic zones that protect this view shed and other scenic areas. Hicks Gap Natural Area (350 acres) also occurs in the forest and was developed to protect the federally endangered large-flowered skullcap.

Management activities of the forest focus primarily on sustainable timber management, forest management demonstration, and wildlife habitat improvement, while also maintaining recreational opportunities for the public. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Forestry Division has provided labor and portions of the forest for various types of research in collaboration with the University of Tennessee.

The forest also includes several in-holdings owned by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and 3 cemeteries.

There are 35 miles of hiking trails and the area includes the south end of the Cumberland Trail State Park. There  are two designated camping areas. Recreational activities also include bird watching, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, OHV use in designated areas, and hunting.

Roads on the state forest are subject to closure at any time for management and safety purposes. Roads will be clearly marked and barricaded for visitor information.

During managed hunts, the area west of State Highway 27 (Suck Creek Road) is closed to all visitors except licensed hunters. The area east of State Highway 27, Edward’s point, will remain open to visitors. The dates are available on this website as well as in the TWRA hunting guide.

The following roads are CLOSED annually from December 20 to March 15. These closures are necessary due to the wet weather and the freezing and thawing cycle, which makes the roads susceptible to rutting and erosion.

  • Tower Drive past Pot Point Gate
  • All side roads
  • Haley Road
  • Visitors can still access Davis Pond campsite and Snooper's Rock during this time.
  • The forest is open for recreation daily from sunrise to sunset.
  • The speed limit is 25 mph.
  • All motorized vehicles (including OHVs, ATVs, motorcycles, etc.) must ONLY use designated roads. Roads marked with the jeep symbol are open to all motorized vehicles.
  • Do NOT drive in the woods, fields, creeks, power lines, gas lines, or rights of way.
  • Respect road closures. Some roads must be temporarily closed for various reasons including but not limited to weather, maintenance, and/or when a forest management operation is underway.
  • Tower Drive south of Pot Point Road, Elder Point, Long Point and Inman Point are closed from late April through early July to encourage turkey nesting.
  • The roads are open to all forest visitors, including cyclists and horseback riders. If you encounter someone on horseback, you may want to stop or turn off your engine to avoid spooking the horse.
  • Help protect the resource. Slinging gravel and making doughnuts adds time and costs for road maintenance.  

Fall 2024 /Spring 2025 Hunt Dates

Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area will be holding managed Turkey and Deer hunts on the following dates.
On these dates, the area west of State Highway 27 (Suck Creek Road) is closed to all visitors except licensed hunters. The area east of State Highway 27, Edward’s Point, will remain open to visitors.

Deer Hunts

  • September 21 - 23:  Archery - Two deer, no more than one antlered
  • September 24 - 27:  Archery - Two deer, no more than one antlered
  • October 10 - 12:  Muzzleloader - Two deer, no more than one antlered
  • October 19 - 20:  Gun (Young Sportsman Hunt) - Two deer, no more than one antlered
  • October 24 - 26:  Muzzleloader - Two deer, no more than one antlered
  • November 8 - 10:  Gun - One deer, antlered only
  • November 30 - December 5:  Gun - Two deer, antlered only

Turkey  Hunts - One bearded turkey per day. Counts toward statewide bag limit.

  • April 15 - 17
  • April 18 - 20
  • April 23 - 25
  • May 1 - 3
  • May 6 - 8
  • May 9 - 11

For detailed information on hunt dates, please refer to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency hunting guide

Hours of operation:  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from sunrise to sunset
Closed during managed hunts.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency now requires a permit to use the shooting range. A Tier One Shooting Range Permit may be purchased via:

  • TWRA License Agents:  TWRA Regional Offices, local stores, sporting goods stores, and other merchants
  • Phone:  Call 1-888-814-8972. Have a pencil and paper ready to record your confirmation number. There is a processing fee.
  • Online:  Visit and click on 'Buy a License.' There is a processing fee.

Those possessing a current Tennessee Hunting License are not required to obtain a Tier One Shooting Range Permit.

  • Camping is permitted at the Hunter's Check Station Camping area and the Davis Pond Camping area on a first-come, first-served basis. These primitive campsites have no sanitation facilities.
  • Campers at the Davis Pond Camping area are required to be in the campsite by sunset and must remain in the campsite until sunrise. No in-and-out privileges with the exception of emergency purposes. 

Contact - State Forest

Anthony Johnson
P.O. Box 160
Hixson, TN  37343
(423) 658-5551

Contact - Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting Range

Marty Griffith, TWRA Manager
(423) 658-0298