Ok all you “Griswold” Christmas tree fanatics, our season approaches. Yes I said our Season, I am a true “Griswold” tree hunter each year. Growing up in the Cascade mountains of Oregon and my dad being a logger, I can still drive you to some of the best natural Christmas trees in Central Oregon.
But I don’t live in Oregon any longer. I now live and enjoy the Sierra Mountains as home. So where do you go to get a great Christmas Tree in the Sierra Mountains?
In Early November each year tree permits started being sold at most National Forest Service offices around the Sierra. With nine national forests in the Sierra you would think that your choices are plentiful. However several national forests in the sierra are closed to Christmas Tree Hunting.
Coming out of the Carson Valley I like to head up to Wolf Creek area for our Christmas Tree. But this area is liked by many and finding your tree takes a little more work. I have found good trees just outside of Markleeville ca as Well off HWy 88 in Hope Valley on the road up to Burnside lake.
Lake Tahoe Basin has many spots around the lake to choose from, see thair map if you get a chance to grab a permit there. Spooner summit is popular.
If you are new to looking for your own tree here are a few tips to consider before you go:
- Get a permit and a Map from the forest service offices listed below. Permits run $10 and a map is important as you can’t cut in some areas.WFill the car up before you go, it is easy to have a great day out looking for a tree and not realize how many miles you end up driving.
- Make sure you have enough gas for a good trip
- Take a hand saw, Tarp. Gloves and Rope – can’t tell you how many times I have seen people go out and forget the rope to tie the tree to the car. Saw for light weight cutting, you may have to hike a bit to find a tree, chainsaws become very heavy, Gloves to save you from the traditional pitchy hands, A Tarp can be useful for not only covering the tree from wind damage on top of the car, but if there is snow you can place tarp on ground and drag your tree back to the car.
- Bring Hot Chocolate and a few snacks. – Getting a Christmas tree is a blast. It can be a magical family time. One our family favorites is to sit in the woods at the car after we get our tree and drink some Hot Coco and eat out favorite snacks to replenish the energy we just used getting tree back to the car.
- Tape Measure – How tall of tree will your house hold with a tree topper? How big of base do you need on the tree for your tree stand? Both great questions. You are not allowed to cut down a larger tree and just harvest the top. You need to get a good idea of the tree you need before you start looking and decide to cut.
- Dress warm and bring layers – In Nevada, one of the mysteries I see when out getting my tree is the people who did not bring a jacket or are dressed like they are going to the high school basketball game. Winter in the Sierra’s can be brutal, Bring your warm clothes and if you need to peel them off on an unusually warm day you can. Also getting a tree this time a year often will get you wet, it is nice to have a warm dry set of clothes waiting for you int he car.
- Find a friend to go with you that knows the area. – This one is sometimes a little more difficult, because us “Real” Christmas Tree guys, don’t like to share our favorite spots. However it is worth asking, If you are not familiar with the area and if your honest and maps are not your strong suit, you want to get a little guidance. Every year it seems we hear the story of the family who goes out to get the tree and ends up lost or stranded on a backcountry road for days. Have a plan, let people know where you are going and stay on the road if you area first timer.
Here is a list of links to the Forest service stations in your area to determine the best time and locations for trees near you.
National Forest Tree Permit Options
Lassen National Forest | MAP
Plumas National Forest | MAP
Humbolt – Toiyabe National forest | Carson Ranger District will start issue permits November 24th. Maps not currently available and permit locations are still not published.
Inyo National Forest | No Digital Map Available at this time. Maps can be picked up at stations.
Tahoe National Forest | – Need to check with this office, they do have a few stations that provide permits, but it is selective and dates at this point have not been released. See contact info below for assistance.
The Following National forests don’t always sell Christmas Tree Permits
Tahoe National Forest | – As mentioned above some areas are closed. Need to varify before heading out on dates nd areas.
El Dorado National Forest | – No Christmas Tree Permits are Sold for El Dorado National Forest.
Stanislaus National Forest | No Christmas Tree are Sold for Stanislaus National Forest
Sequoia National Forest | No Christmas Tree Permits are sold in Sequoia National Forest.
Where May I Cut A Christmas Tree?
National Forests that do issue Christmas Tree permits.
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
Sparks, NV, (775) 331-6444
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
South Lake Tahoe, (530) 543-2694
Tahoe National Forest
Sierraville Ranger Station (only) (530) 543-2600
Plumas National Forest
Lassen National Forest
Susanville, (530) 257-2151
Six Rivers National Forest
Eureka, (707) 442-1721
Inyo National Forest -White Mountain Ranger Station ONLY