A lively first half performance from Robbie Findley, in which he set up David McGoldrick for The Reds' first, and won a penalty for their second, wasn't enough to deny Keith Curle's men who staged an impressive second half comeback.
The first chance of the game fell to County's Lee Hughes on four minutes. A cross from the left by Alan Sheehan was well-controlled by the frontman, but his shot was deflected out for a corner.
Forest then scored with their first chance of the game. A tenth-minute run down the right from Greg Halford saw him offload to Lewis McGugan, who produced a lovely flick to release Findley into the right channel. He squared for McGoldrick to turn home into an empty net.
Five minutes later it was 2-0. Findley again left the County defence for dead after a through ball from Guy Moussi, and Hamza Bencherif brought him down just as he was about to shoot. McGugan dispatched the penalty low, hard and to Bartosz Bialkowski's right.
County tried for an immediate comeback but Jeff Hughes shot wide from range, before McGoldrick's first-time 25-yarder after good work from Brendan Moloney went high and wide.
Forest then enjoyed a spell of near-total domination, keeping the ball with some lovely spells of possession. On 40 minutes, County got a break when Jamaal Lascelles' header fell to Sheehan, but his left-footed strike flew across Camp and wide of the post.
A minute later, McGoldrick fired a 25-yard thunderbolt straight at Bialkowski and from the resultant corner, Danny Collins' header drifted just wide.
Forest made four changes at the break; Karl Darlow for Camp, Simon Gillett for Halford, Matt Derbyshire for Findley and Kieron Fenton for Collins.
Four minutes in to the half, it should have been 3-0. Derbyshire took the ball down the right and crossed low into the box. Marcus Tudgay's clever dummy set up McGoldrick, whose shot was saved. The ball then fell for Jonathan Greening but he fired over.
Then came a warning shot from County. Lee Hughes pulled the ball back for Neal Bishop, who had plenty of time and space, but failed to hit the target.
On 51 minutes, Fenton caved into shouts of 'shoot' from the Forest faithful after picking up a clearance from Bialkowski, but the back-peddling 'keeper was relieved to see the youngster's attempted lob sail just wide.
A minute later and County were back in it. Derbyshire conceded a foul on the edge of the area and Alan Judge curled home a nice free-kick to make it 2-1.
Notts were well and truly in the driving seat and were unfortunate not to level the scores when Emmanuele Smith, on for Bencherif, had a header well saved by Darlow.
It didn't matter, however, as the comeback was complete almost immediately- Yoann Arquin picked the ball up in the Forest area and fired low beyond a helpless Darlow on 56 minutes.
Forest were shellshocked but a 62nd-minute left-footed cross by Gillett threatened to help them back into the lead, but the County defence did well to clear it out for a corner.
Notts weren't finished, however, and Arquin threatened to double his tally on 67 minutes when he drove at The Reds' back line before unleashing a stinging drive straight at Darlow.
Neither side could get hold of the game from then on, but The Magpies had the last chance. In the final moments, Enoch Showumni, on for Hughes, burst on to a ball from Arquin only to be tripped-up by Gillett. Sheehan's free-kick went over and the game ended 2-2.
Forest: Camp (Darlow 46'), Halford (Gillett 46'), Lascelles, Collins (Fenton 46'), Moloney, Findley (Derbyshire 46'), McGugan (Reid 67'), Moussi, Greening (Moussa 67'), McGoldrick (Guedioura 67'), Tudgay.
Scorers: McGoldrick 10', McGugan (pen) 14'
Notts County: Bialkowski (Speiss 81'), Regan, Bencherif (Smith 46'), Williams, Sheehan, Mahon (Zoko 46' (Fuentes 68')), Bishop, Liddle (Labadie 46'), J Hughes (Arquin 46'), L Hughes (Showumni 67'), Judge (Kelly 62').
Scorers: Judge 52', Arquin 56'
Attendance: 7,932 (Away 4,143)