How to Find the Perfect Christmas Tree in the Ocala National Forest

Oh Christmas tree! Thy leaves are so unchanging. If you have never experienced the fun and excitement of finding the perfect live Christmas tree as a family, we urge you to find and cut down the perfect tree in the Ocala National Forest in North Central Florida. It’s legal as long as you follow these guidelines.

Christmas tree Ocala National Forest
You can find the perfect Christmas tree in the Ocala National Forest near Astor, Florida.

Ocala National Forest Permits

The Ocala National Forest is a great place to find and cut down your perfect Christmas tree. The Ocala National Forest is protected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service. Special forest permits to cut down a Christmas tree can be obtained at the Lake George Ranger District Station or the Seminole Ranger District Station. Permits are $7 and are available from Thanksgiving Day through Dec. 23 each year.

Finding the Perfect Tree Takes Time

The Ocala National Forest has more than 380,000 acres of protected land. It takes a longer period of time to find the perfect tree in a forest full of native plants and wildlife. Rangers will provide you with a map for three Christmas tree harvesting areas that help narrow down your search parameters. Make sure your tree will fit in your living room before you cut it down. Trees in the forest can look deceiving.


Choose a Healthy Tree

A freshly cut Christmas tree will last longer than a tree that was cut down weeks ago and transported to a tree lot. Look for trees that do not have a lot of dead or browning needles. Gently stroke branches to make sure the needles bend and don’t fall off the tree.

Check for Live Animals

Before you begin the process of cutting down your tree, shake it and inspect it for live animals that may have made your Christmas tree their home. The last thing you want to do is place your new tree inside your home and discover there is a squirrel inside it.


Take a Tarp

Place a tarp on the ground on the location where you anticipate your tree will fall when you cut it down. This will help your tree from falling into dirt and grass in the forest, which makes bringing the tree home much less messy.

Christmas tree Ocala National Forest
Make sure you take the proper tools to cut down your Christmas tree.

Bring Tools

Don’t pull a Clark W. Griswold and forget to bring something to cut down your tree. You don’t want to dig up a tree and its root system. Take one of the following with you to make your job much easier.

  • Battery-operated handsaw
  • Battery-powered chainsaw
  • Hatchet
  • Bow saw
  • Handsaw

Remember to bring along a pair of work gloves and some rope to secure the tree to your vehicle.


Do Not Create Trunk Base Friction

Refrain from using reciprocal saws or any blade that moves so fast it creates friction. Too much blade friction causes the truck to get too hot, which seals the trunk up with hot sap that acts like a permanent glue to prevent your tree from absorbing water.

Cutting Your Tree for the Base

Using a handsaw or one of the above methods to cut your tree trunk, cut approximately a half-inch off the bottom of the tree trunk before putting your tree in its base. This allows the tree to absorb more water.

Do not cut the trunk base at an angle or a V-shape and don’t drill a hole in the base. These methods actually make it more difficult for your tree to absorb water.

Mount Your Tree Within 8 Hours

A fresh tree can go without water for eight hours after you cut it down before further water absorption becomes more difficult. Place your tree in a safe stand that can hold a quart of water for every inch in trunk diameter.

Do not remove the bark of the tree to get the base to fit in the tree stand. The bark is the layer that absorbs the most water.

Christmas tree Ocala National Forest
Before you find the right Christmas tree, make sure you spend some time in nature along the St. Johns River.

Allow the Tree to Settle

Once the tree is safely and securely in the tree stand, allow it to settle into its shape or fall, for anywhere from an hour to overnight before you begin decorating the tree. This allows the branches to settle.

Ensure Christmas Tree Safety

Inspect light cords and make sure they are not frayed before you weave the lights into the tree. Keep your tree away from heat sources and also never leave your home unattended with the Christmas tree lights on.


Plan a Holiday Trip Along the St. Johns River

Are you looking to get away for a holiday trip that culminates with finding the perfect Christmas tree in the Ocala National Forest? Before you find the right tree, make sure you spend some time in nature along the St. Johns River.

Castaways on the River offers comfortable cottages and motel rooms right along the St. Johns River near the Ocala National Forest. Castaways also has a fleet full of rental boats for your use. Call Castaways on the River at (352) 759-3442 to book your Christmas tree adventure trip today!


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About Castaways on the River

Castaways on the River offers boat rentals and lodging accommodations in beautiful Astor, Florida. Come experience the natural beauty of Central Florida's fresh waters.

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