Cut Your Own Christmas Tree in a National Forest

Ready to get a Christmas tree? The national forests are full of them—and you’re invited to hike in and cut your own.

Tree-cutting permits cost just $5; in the Northeast, they are available for the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. In addition to cash or a check, you will need a handsaw or ax, warm clothes and other essentials for a winter hike, and a family patient enough to spend some time looking for the right tree and then working together to bring it out. (You have to select a tree that’s at least 100 feet from a state highway, and not in or near a campground, picnic area, Wilderness, or other off-limits area.)

You can buy tree-cutting permits at White Mountain National Forest offices in Gorham, Conway, Campton, and Lincoln, New Hampshire; and at Green Mountain National Forest offices in Rutland, Middlebury, Manchester, and Rochester, Vermont. Before driving to the region to cut a tree, make sure the nearest office will be open.

Once in the woods, you may want to look for fragrant balsam firs, which retain their needles well, or spruce, with their full branches and classic shape. Or maybe a tiny, somewhat misshapen “Charlie Brown” tree will tug at your family’s heart. In any case, you will be building outdoor memories to last a lifetime.

Learn More
Not sure how to distinguish between a fir and a spruce? Read some tips from AMC.

Photo by Christian Schwier -

Great Kids, Great Outdoors is an Appalachian Mountain Club blog, written by Heather Stephenson.

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