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Prentice Cooper State Forest

Prentice Cooper State ForestSize: 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

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.

Road Closures

During the time period from December 20 through March 15 the following road closures will be in effect to prevent damage to the roads. These road closures may be put in effect at other times if weather and/or road conditions deem it necessary.

  • All of the side roads will be closed to all motorized vehicles.
  • Tower Drive will remain open to Davis Pond and Davis Pond Road will remain open to the Davis Pond Campsite.
  • Tower Drive will be closed to all motorized vehicles at the gate just past Pot Point Road.
  • Haley Road will be closed to trhough traffic across Mullen's Creek.
  • Inman, Elder, and Long Point Roads will be closed to all motorized vehicles during this time period.
  • All roads are closed to motorized vehicles only. Horseback riding, bicycles and foot travel are permitted.

Shooting Range

The Range is now open. Hours of operation: Thursday, Friday, Saturday from sunrise to sunset. Closed during managed hunts.

Prentice Cooper Hunt Dates - Spring 2014

Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area will be holding managed turkey hunts on the dates listed below.  The area west of Highway 27 (Suck Creek Road) will be closed to visitors except hunters on these dates.  The area east of Highway 27 including Edwards Point will remain open to the public on these dates: Apr 1-6, 9-12, 17-19, and 22-27.

OHV Guidelines

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 map (3.0 Mb pdf)

For More Information

Jim Lane
PO Box 160
Hixson, TN 37343
(423) 658-5551