Cut your Christmas Tree in Washington’s Forests!

Last Updated on November 7, 2018

Forget those crowded malls and roads…Black Friday is a great day to get outside and celebrate the arrival of winter and the holiday season! We go every year to cut a Christmas Tree in the national forest on Black Friday, with lots of family members of all ages! Of course, you can do this any day in late November (by December it can start to get frustrating as the snow gets deeper). Here are some tips and advice for planning your own family outing to cut your Christmas Tree in Washington’s Forests!

Washington Trails Association has a great page that goes into some important logistical and safety details. Late November in Washington is definitely winter, and driving on forest service roads you are likely to encounter snow and potentially terrible weather. Get an early start as the days are SHORT this time of year and pay attention to weather forecasts!

Make sure to have an appropriate vehicle with chains and a shovel (a chainsaw if you have one is not a bad idea either).

driving on snowy forest service roads
Driving on snowy forest service roads to find the perfect tree!

You will also be away from regular roads and likely from a cell phone signal, so make sure to have a map, let someone know where you’re going, and have lots of food and water and flashlights and warm clothes.

As far as where to go, there are several options close to Seattle, Tacoma and Everett. When you buy your permit, then rangers can give you the best advice about which roads are plowed, where to find good trees and they even have maps of tree cutting areas! There are several national forests, but in the Puget Sound region, most likely the Mt Baker Snoqualmie Christmas tree page will be your best resource. A permit costs $10 and you place it on your dashboard while tree hunting and then tie it to your tree once you select it.

Once you have your permit and location ready and drive to where the snow gets deep, you will be out on foot looking for your tree. Make sure to bring a handsaw for cutting and also measure your house to make sure your tree isn’t too big (we know from experience how small trees look in the forest compared to your living room!). Snowshoes can also be helpful for getting around off the road.

walking in the forest to find a christmas tree
Heading out on foot to find that perfect tree!
Cutting Christmas tree
Found the perfect ree!

Once you find and cut that perfect tree, the next challenge is getting it back to the car…

Carrying Christmas tree back to the car
If you got a tree light enough to carry, getting it back to the car will be a lot easier! It also increases the chances it will fit in your house.

And, of course, attaching it to your car! We suggest the burrito method (wrap in a tarp and tie to the top), shown below:

Christmas tree on car
Burrito method of tree attachment to the car (lay the tree on a tarp, wrap the tarp around it, then tie it shut and tie it to the top of the car

Once that’s done, if you’re lucky enough to have a day without terrible weather, make sure to bring along (or cut while you’re there) some firewood so you can roast hot dogs and marshmellows and have general merriment. Regardless of weather snacks and hot drinks are a must! Lots of snacks and a fire if the weather permits add to the fun and adventure for kids! We have done this adventure with and without kids (our nieces and cousins). My advice for bringing kids is it helps if they are at least three years old, and five is probably even better. Having enough adults to entertain the kids and watch them if they get bored wandering around looking for a tree is also a great plan. If kids get tired of the tree search they will still have fun playing in the snow. Make sure to bring dry clothes for them to change into after playing in the wet snow for a few hours! (this is a good idea for adults too).

Building a fire after Christmas tree hunting
Building a fire after tree hunting
People on a winter picnic
Family enjoying a winter picnic by the fire after finding the perfect Christmas trees!

We are excited for the holiday season and ready for snow!

Jennie Flaming on InstagramJennie Flaming on PinterestJennie Flaming on Rss
Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!
One Comment