Finding that Perfect Christmas Tree: A Family Hunting Tradition
Many of my friends have that fond memory of heading out to the woods or tree farm with their parents and picking out the perfect Christmas tree: the arguments, the impromptu snow-ball fights (from my northern friends), the family morning spent in the great outdoors and the hot chocolate afterwards! The aromatic smell of fresh pine would fill the house. For many, Christmas tree hunting is a special annual family tradition. What other kind of shared hunt could result in such a prize that could bring so much joy and pleasant smells? That trip through the plastic trees on offer at your local mega store can’t compare to a great family outdoor Christmas adventure.
I drove through the Ocala National Forest the other day and saw signs for Christmas Trees- not the ones already cut and on the road side, but the ones you had to take your family in the woods to find. My own Christmas-less youth had missed those great tree hunting adventures, so I had to find out more. The Ocala National Forest is allowing Christmas Tree hunting on parts of their land up until Christmas eve.
The Christmas Tree (Sand Pines) hunting areas are on Highway 40 East in the Ocala National Forest. If you are heading East, one location is after the Mill Dam Recreation Area Road, and the other is at the road sign posted for the Rifle Range. Both are on the left. There is a third area (which I didn’t see) as well.
Permits are required for your hunting adventure. They are $7 per tree and obtainable at the Lake George and Seminole Ranger District offices (addresses below). The office hours are 7:30-4pm on weekdays. You can also purchase a permit over the phone (numbers below). You must provide your driver license number, vehicle make, model, year and tag number, as you will be traipsing onto National Park Lands. You will be provided a map of the areas permitting Christmas Tree hunting and care instructions for your tree once you cut it. This is strictly a self-service adventure. Bring your own handsaw and gloves (for us blister-prone). You will be hand-cutting your own tree. Tree hunting hours begin one hour after sunrise and end one hour before sunset. This is NOT a deer-hunting area, but it IS hunting season in other areas of the Ocala National Forest, so do not stray from the map areas given to you.
Lake George Ranger District
17147 E. State Road 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488
Seminole Ranger District
40929 State Road 19
Umatilla, FL 32784
Connect with your kids by creating a new family tradition. Take your kids on a real outdoor hunting adventure this season- (minus the weapons), and go hunting for the perfect family Christmas Tree!
Other Seasonal Stories You May Enjoy
- Light Up Ocala 2015
- Christmas Parade 101 for Families
- The Christmas Gift Guide for Adventurers
- Explore a Beach-In the Winter
- Hunting for Manatees on the Nature Coast