Prentice Cooper State Forest
Beginning Friday, May 22, camping will reopen at Prentice Cooper State Forest. This is in addition to the reopening of camping at Franklin State Forest. All state forests will then be fully open for public use.
The health and safety of Tennessee citizens is our top priority. As the Tennessee landscape continues to green-up, and counties are reopening, our public lands are experiencing a surge in visitor traffic, including from out of state visitors. While normally desirable, this increased visitation can make it difficult for visitors and staff to maintain safe distances from each other. This is especially true on state forests where we have limited staff and resources.
We will continue to monitor activity for good health practices and physical distance to ensure visitor and employee safety. We urge the public to do their part to stay apart, and maintain proper social distancing and personal hygiene. As with the recently reopened Tennessee State Parks, we expect our visitors to follow CDC recommendations for visiting public lands. This includes:
🌳 Don’t visit if you’re sick or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19.
🌳 Practice social distancing. Maintain at least six feet of separation between you and other visitors.
🌳 Don’t travel long distances to visit. Look for public lands that are a short drive from your house.
🌳 Don’t visit crowded areas. If an area is full, consider coming back at a different time.
🌳 Only park in designated areas. Please do not park along the shoulders of roads. If a parking area is full, please adjust your plans and find another area to visit.
🌳 Follow all forest rules and regulations.
🌳 Plan ahead. There are no public facilities on the Forest.
🌳 Masks. We recommend that you bring a mask and wear it when around other people.
🌳 Pack out your trash. When it’s time to leave, please clean up after yourselves. Carry out any trash or dispose of it in the appropriate containers.
See more for CDC Recommendations for visiting public lands.
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.
Turkey Hunt Dates - Spring 2020
Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area will be holding managed turkey hunts on the following dates. See TWRA media release for update.
- 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.
CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Reopening Thursday, May 7
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.
- 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