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.
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) will be closed to all visitors except licensed hunters. The area east of state highway 27, Edward’s point, will remain open to visitors. These dates are available on this website as well as the TWRA hunting guide.
The following roads will be CLOSED 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 for damage of rutting and erosion.
- Tower Drive past Pot Point Gate
- All side roads
- Haley Road
- Access to Davis Pond campsite and Snooper's Rock is still available.
- Stay on designated roads. All motorized vehicles including OHVs, ATVs, motorcycles, etc. must stay on designated roads only. Roads marked with the jeep symbol are open to all 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 horseback 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.
Fall Hunt Dates
Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area will be holding managed Deer hunts on the following dates. [On these dates the area west of state highway 27 (Suck Creek Road) will be closed to all visitors except licensed hunters. The area east of state highway 27, Edward’s point, will remain open to visitors.]
- September 17 - 23
- October 6 - 8, 22 – 23, 27 - 29
- November 5-7
- November 26 – December 1
For detailed information on hunt dates, please refer to the current Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency hunting guide.
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.
- 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.
- 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-or-out privileges with the exception of emergency purposes.