New England is home to some beautiful forests perfect for a fall family hike. So whether you are planning on taking a trip to VT, NH, or ME you can get a cheap or free Christmas tree from the National Parks!
Each year the U.S. Forest Service sells low-cost tree-cutting permits at its offices or online for the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, and the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and western Maine.
If you’re already planning an outing, definitely add hi to your list of things to do or maybe make this year the year you add it to your experience and memory list!
How much are trees or how can I get one free?
This year any 4th or 5th Grader who has a valid Every Kid in a Park pass or paper voucher will get one FREE Christmas Tree permit.
If you don’t have a fourth or fifth grader in your home, you can grab a permit online for just $5. This permit
Where to cut Trees in New England from the US Forestry Department
Trees can be purchased for $5 each with your permit both in the Green Mountains and White Mountains. If you have specific questions, check out the district ranger offices below.
Be sure that you check the local regulations on the diameter of your tree and if there are max height restrictions. For instance, in VT the tallest tree you can fell is 20 feet. (I don’t know about you though… but my ceilings are less than half that)
Androscoggin Ranger District
Pemigewasset Ranger District
Saco Ranger District
White Mountain Forest Supervisor’s Office
71 White Mountain DriveCampton, NH 03223(603) 536-6100
Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests Supervisor’s Office
231 North Main StreetRutland, VT 05701(802) 747-6700
Manchester Ranger District
2538 Depot StreetManchester Center, VT 05255(802) 362-2307
Rochester-Middlebury Ranger Districts
99 Ranger RoadRochester, VT 05767(802) 767-4261
Christmas Tree Cutting Supply Checklist
This is a completely DIY experience and since you will be in the woods on a hike, you might also consider a first aid kit. You will need to bring all of the gear needed to cut your own Christmas tree – and get it home. Use this as your packing list before you head out:
- Tape measure
- work gloves
- hand saw
- First Aid Kit
- rope to bind and tie the tree on your vehicle
- tarp, sled, or helper to assist you in getting your tree to your vehicle
- warm winter clothing
- food or a thermos of hot chocolate/soup/etc
Free trees for 4th and 5th Grade Students
The USDA Forest Service expanded its Every Kid Outdoors program to 4th and 5th-grade students for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. A new voucher is available for download through August 31, 2021.
In order to get their FREE permit, the student will need to get the Every Kid in a Park voucher from the website, print it off & bring the paper voucher to a national forest office to claim their free tree cutting permit OR they can input their pass information at Recreation.gov and redeem for a free Christmas tree cutting permit online.
Tips & Tricks for a Good Experience
Give yourself time. Hunting down the perfect tree is going to take longer than it would at a Christmas tree farm. Trees will likely be spread out and you will need to do some driving or hiking around to locate your tree. Don’t head out right before dark. Remember that in the National Parks it is not like a tree farm where everything is growing close together and in a line.
Stay away from wet areas and streams. This is important not just in keeping you safe but also to ensure The forest landscape is protected.
Be aware of dead or pre-downed trees. They are often animal habitats, so it is best to cut your own tree.
Dress for the experience. You might want great pictures, but comfort and warmth is going to be a better experience for everyone!
Before heading out, check the local forest for the latest warnings, such as fire or road closures. Most national forest roads are not snowplowed in the winter. Choose the roads you choose to navigate wisely based on your vehicle’s performance capabilities.
Tell someone where you’re going. National forests may have spotty to poor cell service. Let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back.
Check for more guidelines from the US Forest Service.