How to Cut Down Your Own Christmas Tree in a Forest

Did you know you can cut your own Christmas tree in one of Oregon's national forests? It's completely legal and even encouraged by the forest service as a way to keep the forest healthy.

By bringing home a tree from the wild to enjoy with your family, you help preserve other trees by ensuring they receive more sun, water, and nutrients so the forest, as a whole, can thrive for generations to come.

I'm sharing all my tips and tricks for finding and chopping down your holiday tree in the mountains.


You can start cutting your own tree as soon as permits go on sale, typically in mid November, and you can buy up to five permits per household. Each permit is good for one tree, no matter the size.


Ideally, you want to cut a tree from a densely forested area since it will help the forest thrive. When in doubt, follow the guidelines printed on the back of your tree permit. Please adhere to the rules to keep this lovely tradition going for future generations.


When you’re out hiking in summer and spot a potential candidate for a Christmas tree, drop a pin or save the GPS coordinates on your phone. Then, you’ll know where to come back for your tree in winter!


One thing to know when hunting for your tree is that you’re not likely to find the fully symmetrical A-line tree you’re used to buying. Commercially grown trees are pruned throughout their life cycle for shape and size, and grow into perfectly bushy holiday centerpieces with help from irrigation.


When you find a good candidate, be sure to view it from all angles to make sure you’re happy with how it looks. If a certain tree you love is a bit bare on one side but otherwise full and fluffy everywhere else, you can place it against a wall where no one will notice the missing branches.

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