Big South Fork watershed

Scott State Forest

Park/State Park


(423) 566-3715

Surrounded by Big South Fork National Recreation Area on all sides, Scott State Forest is a secluded area that provides opportunities for research and recreation. 

The 2,846 acres of forest is mainly used for tree research; scientists use the area to conduct tree improvement studies and grow various strains of tree species throughout the area. The forest mostly comprises hardwood stands, with areas of eastern white pine. 

Visitors to the forest can take advantage of the forest’s rugged beauty by hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and horseback riding on its land. 


One of the main recreational uses within Scott State Forest is hiking. The forest offers a variety of trails for hikers to choose from, ranging from short walks in the woods to longer treks with scenic views. Designated hiking trails, along with multi-use horseback, ATV, and bike trails along logging roads create a diversity of scenery and terrain. Among the most notable trails are the Bandy Creek Loop Trail, Leatherwood Overlook, and Collier Ridge Trail. 

The Bandy Creek Loop Trail is a 1.5 mile trail perfect for family adventures and relaxing strolls in the forest. The trail is located near the Bandy Creek developed area and takes hikers on a walk through the forest on relatively flat terrain. 

The Leatherwood Overlook trail is perfect for those looking for views of both flora and fauna and impressive landscapes around them. The 5.5 mile trail takes hikers through the woods to a scenic vista of the surrounding Big South Fork area, passing by abundant fungi and wildflowers on their way to the overlook. While longer than the Bandy Creek Loop, the trail is rated as easy and can be used by hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. 

The Collier Ridge trail is the longest of the three featured trails, at 8.8 miles. The trail is rated as moderate and takes hikers on a longer walk through the forest to see wildlife and wildflowers.

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking is a recreational activity growing in popularity at Scott State Forest. Many of the forest’s trails are designated as single or double-track biking trails, offering a variety of terrain and difficulty for bikers of all skills levels looking to explore the forest. 

The West Bandy Creek Trail is a single-track, designated mountain bike trail that is easily accessible from developed areas. This trail is perfect for bikers looking for a trail to ease their way into biking at the forest.

The Duncan Hollow Bike Loop is a designated bike trail that offers connections to other trails within the Big South Fork area. Along with the opportunities the trail offers for longer rides within other areas around the forest, it also provides a spur to a natural overlook, giving bikers a reward for their ride and a place to take a break while they take in the scenery.

The Collier Ridge Trail, also used for hiking, is another popular mountain bike loop. The trail’s location on mostly old roads creates a wider-track for bikers to ride on. The trail includes a creek crossing; bikers should be aware of high water levels and risks of erosion while riding.

Horseback riding

The forest’s old roads and winding trails through hardwood growth provides a great destination for horseback riders. Accommodations at nearby locations, such as the Bandy Creek Campground, provide the necessary resources and amenities for equestrians and their horses to enjoy a pleasant stay at Big South Fork while exploring Scott State Forest’s trails.

Horseback riders can enjoy an abundance of old logging roads, as well as rides on more narrow trails, as they ride through the area on trails varying in length, terrain, and sights. 

Popular trails include various of the Duncan Trail Loop, Bandy Creek Trails, and Jack’s Ridge trails. More information and details about trail locations can be found on the National Park’s online map of the forest.


Hunters will find that Scott State Forest’s rugged and isolated terrain makes for great small and big game hunting. 

Hunters are permitted to hunt for whitetail deer, wild turkey, feral boar, small game, and waterfowl during their respective seasons in the forest. Lucky hunters who acquire an elk permit can also test their luck in the forest. 

Bear hunting is prohibited in Scott State Forest. Check the Scott County website for more details about hunting seasons, regulations, licenses, and safety.