Sometimes if a trailhead is over 2 hours away, I casually put off hiking that trail. I convince myself that I won’t be able to drive 4+ hours round trip and also hike multiple miles. But, when you have a hiking pal, you stop putting those farther away hikes off.
I’m willing to bet that if you live in Tennessee and have hiked with some regularity, you’ve seen the view from Snooper’s Rock in Prentice Cooper State Forest. But, this area is so much more than just that overlook.
The Pot Point Loop is just shy of 12 miles. It’s moderately long but the terrain isn’t too strenuous. There’s technically three overlooks on the trail – Raccoon Mountain, Snooper’s Rock, and Ransom Hollow – but the Raccoon Mountain one is surrounded by trees therefore rendering it not-so-much-of-an-overlook when leaves are on the trees. I’ve already mentioned Snooper’s Rock, which is the most popular and it’s a great view, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Ransom Hollow Overlook. Sure, it could have been the magic of golden hour, but, wow, this view of Nickajack Lake is not one to be missed.
In addition to these views, you’ll find a natural rock bridge, multiple creeks and streams, a campsite and “boulder gardens”. We didn’t see a single soul on the trail, except for a few voices we heard at Snooper’s Rock. I’m not quite sure why this trail isn’t more popular, especially being so close to Chattanooga (~ 10 miles from downtown). It’s also part of the Tennessee River Gorge Segment of the Cumberland Trail. While, the loop isn’t technically part of the CT, it’s connected to the southern terminus.
For whatever reason, I was very confused as to where the Pot Point trailhead was. (There’s literally a parking icon on the map via Cumberland Trails Conference.) It’s right near Snooper’s Rock, but I thought “Surely this trail doesn’t start right at one of the overlooks!”, so I decided that the trailhead was the Trail Kiosk at Tower Dr. However, about four tenths of a mile before reaching the kiosk, the road was closed so that ‘nesting turkeys’ weren’t disturbed. (This area is closed in parts of the spring for turkey hunting, so make sure you check the Prentice Cooper State Forest website if you are planning on hiking in the spring.) So, we just pulled over and parked on the side of the road, and hiked down the road to the kiosk. But, I am SO GLAD we did because we caught the beautiful views at Ransom Hollow at sunset.
I highly recommend this loop in Prentice Cooper. I would make sure you have a good 6-7 hours to hike because you’ll want to stop and enjoy the views.
Distance from Nashville: 2hr 30min
Trailhead: Snooper’s Rock Trailhead on Tower Drive (or unofficially the park-on-the-side-of-the-road at the Trail Kiosk farther south on Tower Dr)
Trail: Pot Point Loop (see my route below)
Link to trail map/info: Pot Point Loop via Cumberland Trails Conference
Length of hike: ~12 miles
Brief overview: Stunning overlooks of the Tennessee River/Nickajack Lake, natural rock bridge, huge boulders and forest and creek walking. Must do if you want a beautiful, challenging hike.