Sunday Hikes: Prentice Cooper State Forest

The Prentice Cooper State Forest is 25,000 acres of land around the Tennessee River gorge about 10 miles west of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It has 35 miles of hiking trails and free camping.

Josh and I wanted to get in a solid hike in the area and chose to take the dirt road to the Snoopers Rock trailhead. From there we could check out “Snoopers Rock” and hike to Natural Bridge and back. This would be a 6 mile round trip distance.

We parked at the trailhead and followed a spur road for a 1/4 mile and discovered that we could have driven down and parked right there at Snoopers Rock. Snoopers Rock is a rock overhang with gorgeous views of the Tennessee River gorge.

There were quite a few folks at Snoopers Rock since it was so easily accessible. After soaking in the unearned view for a moment. We then followed the signs towards Natural Bridge.

This route was much less traveled. The trail followed the river from on high. There were many trees down across the trail which made it more fun rather than difficult. After a mile or so we reached somewhat of a hiking crossroads in the forest.

We followed the path to Natural Bridge of course, while making a mental note to come back and check out these other trails. The hiking thru this area felt like we were hundreds of miles from civilization as it was quiet and secluded. We passed several rickety wooden bridges and soon we arrived at Natural Bridge.

We hiked over the rock bridge and down under it and then back up the top. It was impressive and a lot of fun pretending to rock climb.

After playing around a bit we hurried back and made much better time on the return trip. This was a great hike and a lot of fun. I highly recommend the Prentice Cooper State Forest if you are visiting Chattanooga and want to get in some nature too. rk

Sunday Hikes: Natural Bridge Trail (Yellowstone) 

If you are looking for a secluded and unique hike Yellowstone National Park, look no further than the Natural Bridge Trail. The trailhead is located just south of the Bridge Bay Campground on the Grand Loop Road with another trailhead leaving from the campground. 


We were camping at Bridge Bay so we hiked the 2.8 mile round trip trail one afternoon right after we had dinner. The trail is mostly flat and takes you through the trees for .7 miles where the tree cover helps the winter snow not melt well into summer. After that the trail met up with an old service road that we followed most of the way there. The trail forks with the service road going to the left and the trail going right and in between was a small pond. There were some ducks floating around on the water and a huge porcupine drinking on the edge. We tried our best to get a good picture but once it realized we were there it took off with quills ready to fire. I don’t think I had seen a porcupine before this one so I’m not sure if they are all giant but this one was larger than a toddler.


 Maybe 50ft after the fork in the trail we reached the natural bridge. It was quite impressive with a water falling flowing through it and it something we had seen anywhere else in the park. 


There was a very cool but somewhat old sign that humbly compared this arch to two of Utah’s largest arches (Rainbow and Landscape). 


The trail continues to the top of the bridge and gives you the only part of the trail that isn’t flat. At the top you could easily stand on top of the natural bridge (but you really should not because it will likely break). There is also what looked like the remains of a stone bridge over the creek to go look at the other side but it appeared to have washed away at some point. 


After taking some pictures and enjoying the solitude of the trail (we had seen nobody else there) we hiked back and kept an eye out for our porcupine friend. Much of this trail seemed somewhat rundown and dilapidated as if it had once been a very popular attraction but fell into obscurity. We really enjoyed this hike and was one of the few we got to do in our short time in Yellowstone. Whenever I get to return to Yellowstone I will probably be hiking this trail again! 

Thanks! – Josh