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How to harvest the perfect Christmas tree in the Superior National Forest

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 10:32am
How to harvest the perfect Christmas tree in the Superior National Forest Have you ever harvested your own Christmas tree from the forest? If you are someone who likes to choose your own adventure and drink hot chocolate from a thermos while wearing a festive flannel – Christmas tree hunting is for you! For as little as $5 you can embark on a memory filled adventure out into the forest to find the perfect Balsam fir tree.

What you’ll need to make your outing successful:

  1. Permit. You’ll need to obtain a Christmas tree permit from the US Forest Service. It is $5 and can be picked up from any forest service office. Pro tip: pick up a map of the Superior National Forest. It can be purchased at the same time as your permit or from a local outfitter. Not only will it guide you through the backroads and identify the US Forest Service boundaries but is also a handy companion for year round navigation.
  2. Balsam Fir Forest. The Superior National Forest is filled with perfect trees dreaming of brightening up your home this holiday but you’ll need to know what you are looking for. Only certain types of trees can be harvested for Christmas. Balsam fir trees are the preferred species because they smell wonderful, are ideal for displaying ornaments and grow back rapidly so it keeps the forest healthy. Pro tip: bring a tape measure. You cannot return the tree to the forest if it is too big for your living space so it is important to know what you can accommodate.
  3. Saw. A folding handsaw or a chainsaw are the ideal tools for the job but any kind of cutting device or axe will be sufficient.  Pro tip: look for tree of six inches or less in diameter and cut near the base of the tree at a slight angle. This will help determine the direction that the tree will fall.
  4. Rope. You’ll need something to secure your prized tree to the roof of your car. Similar to tying a canoe to the roof of your vehicle, you’ll need rope or locking straps to attach. Pro tip: bringing a blanket or tarp wrap the tree to protect it during travel will ensure the majority of needles stay intact as well as keep the roof of your vehicle scratch free.
  5. Winter clothing. It is not allowed to harvest a tree within 200 feet of a road or trail so you will have to venture into the woods to get your tree. Therefore, wearing appropriate winter clothing is a must. Besides you would never want to miss an opportunity for an impromptu snowball fight with your loved ones, would you?  Pro tip: bringing a sled along to help pull the carefully selected tree out of the woods.

Learn more about the types of trees you can harvest and the nitty gritty details from these resources:

Permit locations in Cook County MN: 

  • Gunflint Ranger District -

    2020 W. Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604 |  PHONE:

    (218) 387-1750  |

    Email: gunflint@fs.fed.us

  • Tofte Ranger District - 7355 West Hwy 61, Tofte, MN 55615 | PHONE: (218) 663-8060 | Email: tofte@fs.fed.us

Happy hunting!

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