Still on the hunt for a Christmas tree? Head to the forest and cut your own for a fun family event

If you're still on the hunt for a Christmas tree and looking for a fun family adventure, you can head to one of a few national forests in Washington state and cut down your own. 

What you'll save in money (a permit to cut your own tree is $5-$10) you'll make up for in sweat equity. You can find trees up to 15 feet tall!

Closer to home, you can get a permit to cut your own tree in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest by clicking here. You can also do the same in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest by clicking here. The links list area stores and businesses that sell the permits, as well as where you can buy them online. Just be sure to print them out before you head to the mountains!

What kind of tree should you get? 

The kind of tree you cut is up to you. Douglas firs are popular choices. They'll look nice in your home, but the needles will fall off a little faster than a Noble fir tree. 

The hemlock tree should be very low on your list: They start losing needles immediately, even with a fresh cut and watering. 

Whichever tree you decide on, make sure to pick one that's with several other trees. Thinning the stand of trees helps the Forest Service and the trees, giving the ones left behind more sunlight and groundwater. 

Forest tree-cutting tips: 

  • The tree may be cut or dug up for transplanting, but the ground is pretty frozen this time of year. 
  • Don't forget tools to cut down the tree! You can use clippers to trim some of the branches and a nice little handsaw to cut the base of the tree and trim it when you get home.
  • A tarp is nice to have so you can sit or lie down on it while sawing the base, and then you can use it to drag your tree out of the forest if you need a little help.
  • You're asked to leave no more than a six-inch stump and cut off any live branches on the stump as well. 
  • DO NOT cut a tree within 150 feet of a stream, lake, pond or wetland area.