Prentice Cooper State Forest
Size: 24,686 acres/9,990 ha. Prentice Cooper State Forest is located in southeastern Tennessee, in Marion County. The forest is approximately 10 miles west of Chattanooga and is heavily utilized by the public. It is situated on the scenic Tennessee River Gorge. The property for Prentice Cooper was acquired by simple purchase between 1938 and 1944. The site was proclaimed a State Forest in 1945. Sixty-nine percent of the forest is in multiple-use regulated forests and the remainder is in conservation areas. Approximately 6,939 acres are designated as unregulated scenic zones that protect this view shed and other scenic areas of the forest. Hicks Gap Natural Area (350 acres) also occurs in the forest and was developed to protect the federally endangered Large-flowered Skullcap. The forest also includes several in-holdings owned by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and 3 cemeteries. Management activities of the forest focus primarily on sustainable timber management, forest management demonstration and wildlife habitat improvement while maintaining recreational opportunities for the public. There are 35 miles of hiking trails, including the south end of the Cumberland Trail State Park. There also are two designated camping areas. 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. Hunting has been a traditional use of the forest. Other recreational activities include OHV use in designated areas, rock climbing, hiking, Mountain biking, horseback riding, bird watching, and camping.
Camping is permitted at two designated campsites: Davis Pond and Hunter's Check Station. Campsites are primitive with pit toilets and campfire rings only. Camping is first come, first serve. Those camping at Davis Pond must be in the campsite by dark. Backpackers may use the campsites along the trails.
Those camping at Davis Pond must be in the campsite by dark. Backpackers may use the campsites along the trails.
Winter Road Closures
All side roads will be closed from December 20, 2019 through March 15, 2020.
Hours of operation: Thursday, Friday, Saturday from sunrise to sunset. Closed during managed hunts.
Permit required. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency now requires a permit to use the shooting range. A Tier One Shooting Range Permit may be purchased at:
- TWRA License Agents: TWRA Regional Offices, local stores, sporting goods stores and other merchants.
- By Phone: 1-888-814-8972. Have a pen/pencil and paper ready to copy confirmation number. There will be a processing fee.
- Online: Visit www.tnwildlife.org and click on 'Buy Licenses and Boat Registration'. There will be a processing fee.
- Those possessing a current Tennessee Hunting License are not required to obtain a Tier One Shooting Range Permit.
Turkey Hunt Dates - Spring 2020
Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area will be holding managed turkey hunts on the following dates:
- April 7 - 9
- April 10 - 12
- April 15 - 17
- April 23 - 25
- April 28 - 30
- May 1 - 3
One bearded turkey per day, not to exceed the statewide bag limit.
For detailed information on these hunt dates, please refer to the current Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency hunting guide.
The area west of Highway 27 (Suck Creek Road) will be closed to all visitors except hunters on these dates. The area east of Highway 27 including Edwards Point will remain open for hiking on these dates.
- Stay on designated roads. All motorized vehicles including OHVs, ATVs, motorcycles, etc. must stay on designated roads only. Only roads marked with the jeep symbol are open to motorized vehicles. Some roads are open to designated use only and are posted as such. Stay out of the woods, fields, creeks, power lines, gas lines and right of ways.
- Respect road closures. Some roads must be temporarily closed for various reasons.
- During the winter months the side roads are closed during periods of wet weather. Winter months bring a lot of rain and snow along with freezing and thawing. These conditions make the dirt roads soft and muddy and most susceptible to damage, rutting and erosion problems.
Some areas are closed from late April through early July to encourage turkey nesting. Turkeys do not like to be disturbed during the nesting period, therefore some areas are closed to motorized vehicles during this time. Areas closed include: Tower Drive south of Pot Point Road, Elder Point, Long Point and Inman Point.
Some roads are closed for road maintenance and construction or when a logging operation is going on in the area.
- Watch your speed. The speed limit is 25 mph on all roads on the forest.
- Help protect the resource. Slinging gravel and making doughnuts in the roads adds to the time and costs needed for road maintenance. The forest has a very limited budget for gravel and maintenance.
- Share the road. The roads are open to all forest visitors including bicyclists and horse back riders. Be courteous when meeting these visitors on the road. You may want to stop or turn off your engine as to not to startle the horses.
- Hours of Operation. The area is open during daylight hours, sunrise to sunset
Prentice Cooper State Forest Road Use Map (3.5 Mb pdf)
For State Forest Information
PO Box 160
Hixson, TN 37343
For Hunting, Fishing and Shooting Range Information
Clint Smith, TWRA Manager