Want to decorate with a beautiful, real Christmas tree without going over budget? Locals can get inexpensive Christmas tree permits and choose their own trees from Mt. Hood National Forest.
Picking the perfect Christmas tree is a quintessential tradition. For many of us, it is one of the first things we do to celebrate the holiday season. This year, make choosing your tree an adventure for the whole family.
Make new memories exploring the forest in the picturesque Mt. Hood area. I’ve gathered the information you’ll need to make getting a tree from the national forest a safe and enjoyable experience.
Here’s your guide to Christmas tree permits.
2023 Christmas Tree Permits
Before you head to the mountain in search of the perfect tree, make sure you know where you can go, what supplies you need, which tree to choose and how to get a permit.
Where to Harvest a Tree
It’s essential that all permit holders know where they can and cannot harvest trees.
First and foremost, understand the guidelines. The Westside Christmas Tree Information Sheet from the U.S. Forest Service’s website gives you an overview of what you expect.
To find out where you can harvest a tree, refer to the Zigzag Ranger District Christmas Tree Map and Clackamas River Ranger District Christmas Tree Map on the the U.S. Forest Service’s website.
The U.S. Forest Service states that you cannot cut trees within 100 feet of a trail, 200 feet of campgrounds or recreation sites, or 300 feet of a stream or lake. No cutting is allowed on county, tribal or private land, wilderness areas, research natural areas, active timber sales or areas posted with “No Christmas Tree Cutting” signs.
Also, if this is your first time harvesting a tree from Mt. Hood National Forest, I recommend stopping by or calling the Clackamas River Ranger District in Sandy or Zigzag Ranger District in ZigZag. The staff can talk you through all the guidelines and share tips for a successful outing.
How to Harvest a Christmas Tree
The U.S. Forest Service outlines these responsible harvesting steps to ensure this fun tradition continues for years to come:
- Choose a tree in a location that has another tree growing within 12 feet of the one you cut.
- Cut the tree so that the remaining stump height is 6 inches or less.
- Do not remove the top of the tree. Cut down the entire tree. Remove snow from around the stump so you can accurately measure stump and tree height.
- Scatter excess branches and pack out everything you brought in.
Before you head to the mountain in search of the perfect tree, pack along these items:
- Christmas tree permit/tag
- U.S. Forest Service information sheet and tree map
- GPS and map
- Warm clothes and layers
- Tie-down straps
- Hand saw
- Lopper pruning tool
Types of Trees
The best options for Christmas trees in the Mt. Hood National Forest are Douglas fir, Noble fir and Pacific silver fir.
Noble fir and Pacific silver fir grow above 3,200 feet elevation. These trees tend to keep their fresh, green color and needles longer. Noble firs are known for their sturdy branches, making them ideal for a variety of decorations.
Douglas firs grow at lower elevations, making them a bit more accessible. Keep in mind, Douglas firs tend to lose their needles faster and have less sturdy branches.
Christmas Tree Permits
Christmas tree permits are available November 9-December 31, 2023.
The permit lets you to cut one Christmas tree up to 15 feet tall within designated areas of the Mt. Hood National Forest. You’re limited to five tree permits per household.
Make Your Christmas Tree Last Longer
After all that hard work, you want to ensure your tree will be vibrant and fresh throughout the holiday season.
Here are some tips to make your tree last longer:
- First, trim an inch or two off the bottom of the tree when you get home. Then place it in water.
- Keep your tree watered. If it dries out, it will start to lose its needles. Also, there is no need to add anything to the water.
- Keep the tree away from a heat source. Fireplaces, air vents, space heaters, etc. will dry out the tree.
- Use LED Christmas lights. These bulbs have two benefits: they use less energy and do not emit as much heat as incandescent bulbs.
For more information, visit the U.S. Forest Service’s website.
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