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The $10 Christmas Tree

Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Cody and I have been so busy with life, that we haven't had a chance to decorate for Christmas. Let alone, get a tree. So we saw this past weekend as a great opportunity to finally go get one! In the past I have gotten my Noble Firs from the local tree lot or Home Depot. But since I met Cody, he's introduced me to cutting down our own tree in the forest! I mean, is this even allowed in California?! To cut down a tree on federal land?? Well, it's legal in Washington! As long as you follow the rules!

How To Cut Your Own Tree Down for $10

Step One: Obtain Permit
We picked up our Christmas Tree permit from the ranger station at the REI Flagship Store a week before. The permit is $10. Yes, you can get a real Christmas tree for $10! Tree cutting season for 2017 is November 13th - January 5th. You can also pick up a permit from a plethora of other places found in this link.

Step Two: Decide on Location
We headed out towards Big Four Ice Caves since we wanted to check out the caves before we went tree hunting. When you pick up your tree permit, they will also give you a map showing designated areas where you are allowed to cut down. There are rules you need to follow before you cut down a tree! Please reference the link above, it has the list of rules.

Big Four Ice Caves

Step Three: Pack a Saw, Tie-downs, and/or Rope
Do not forget the saw! A handsaw will do. We have a small manual saw, but we did see others with electric saws. Cody also tied our tree down with tie-downs, but rope works too.

Got his saw ready!
Remember the rope to tie down the tree!

Step Four: Tree Hunting
Our group had 3 permits total. We went off trail in search of our trees. Each of us found one in a different location. Be mindful of the rules! The tree has to be under 12 feet if you only buy one permit. If you want up to a 20 ft tree, you need to buy 2 permits.

 Worden Brothers found their Christmas Trees!
Kaelee & Brian's first time tree hunting! I think they found the perfect tree!

These are just the general steps of how to cut your own tree down in the forest. Read into it before you head out! Here's a link to this year's handout from the USDA about Christmas Tree cutting.


As for hiking Big Four Ice Caves...

Location: Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Miles Hiked: 2.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 220 ft
Difficulty Level: Easy

We hit the trail with a crew of 4 pups, a 9 year old, a toddler under 2, and a handful of adults. We made it to the caves quickly. None of us wore any traction on our feet, just hiking boots, and 2 people might have had on some Nikes, and made it to the ice caves just fine. As of 12/3, the trail had some snow, but completely doable in basic athletic gear. We did not go in the caves, got a few pics on the outside though, and headed back to trailhead. It's an awesome, family friendly hike and we all had a great time:)

Until next time Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest!


  1. It is so charming! Hope you post pictures of it dressed up :D


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