We stayed at the Davis Pond Campground which is about a 15min drive back into the park. If you want to stay here you have to be there before dark as they close the gates at dark. It's basically like having your own small park in the middle of the mountains on a small bass pond. There was one other couple staying there and it was Memorial Day weekend so I would be surprised if you run into many people out there. There are also tons of places to backpack in and camp. We were on the last leg of 3 campgrounds in 3 days so we had our rooftop tent but want to try packing in to one of the many hike in sites. Caught 4 largemouth bass in about 15 minutes of fishing on the pond, largest being about a 1lb. You will deal with some ATV/Jeep traffic during the weekends which can cause some dust to deal with and the pit bathrooms are about as disgusting as I've ever seen. They really should just bulldoze them down and it would make it even better but outside of that this campground is absolutely amazing if you are looking for seclusion. Expect about an hour and a half drive from Knoxville.
Prentice Cooper WMA is a great place if you’re looking to be in the wilderness. Keep in mind, this is a wildlife management area, so If you are not hunting, might want to avoid it during hunting season, you can find season dates on TWRA website.
There are only two campground areas in PC, but it looks like you can backcountry camp on the map. Davis Pond and Hunters Check Station Campground and the two campground areas. There aren’t any hookups at either site. Hunters Check is a heavily wooded area, near the big game check building. Davis Pond is more of an open field by the pond, and that’s where we stayed. Only one other then there while we were there! There’s plenty of room for multiple tents and great hammock spots. There’s a trailhead that goes to blowing wind falls from the campground too. My husband caught several large mouth bass in the pond too (catch and release). There a lot of ATV, UTV, dirt bikes, jeeps, etc. riding the area, but there’s no riding after dusk, so at Davis Pond it’s very quiet and peaceful with only the sounds of nature! DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT even think of entering the “restroom” at Davis Pond. They really should demolish it. Completely disgusting. And creepy. So be advised, there is no USABLE restroom, you are truly roughing it! Great area for peace and quiet!
We came here to camp among the turning trees one September. It is a huge area and I didn't see any camping other than primitive tent sites. Worked for us! I would like to go back when it's swimming season and jump in the sweet little falls. The fall colors were off the hook but might be even better in October. True to its name it is 'dispersed' with no 'main attraction' site- which is actually awesome if you're looking for seclusion, since people are spread out across the area.
The forest is beautiful but also huge. You can definitely get lost driving around or hiking. If you're looking for a quiet place to camp near Chattanooga this is it.
Good hiking, hunting, etc.
We loved exploring Prentice Cooper State Forest! What a gem! We actually stayed in one of the camping areas, but next time we'd like to backpack instead. We ran a bunch of the trails - enjoyed the views - wonderful spot.