How to Find the Perfect Christmas Tree in Asheville

Sandy Hollar Farm

Have you ever wanted to live your own holiday movie? Join visitors on a merry adventure in the Blue Ridge Mountains to choose and cut the perfect Christmas tree. 

Thirty minutes west of Asheville, the old country roads meander through the lush mountains and farmlands of Leicester. A special feeling looms on this drive around the holidays; mist hugs the mountaintops and chimney smoke clings to the crisp fall air. 

The mission at hand: find, cut and bring home the perfect Christmas tree. 

The mountains give way to the Sandy Mush Valley and a deep-forested hollow that spans across the ridgeline. A dirt road appears surrounded by fields of dark and juicy blackberries. 

This is Sandy Hollar Farm, Buncombe County’s only choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm, where wooden hayride wagons and a memorable holiday outing await.

This experience is what drives June and Curtis Hawkins, who opened Sandy Hollar Farm in 1969.

“We wanted something different,” June said. “We’re proud to say we’ve delivered on that.”

Sandy Hollar Farm 3As the wagon bumps along behind the tractor, it’s impossible not to admire the farm. On one hillside, goats, llamas and chickens peacefully graze. A Great Pyrenees dog, a fixture on the grounds, watches alertly from the other. 

Aboard there’s a festive feeling with the other Christmas tree hunters. One family, the Birdwhistells, have congregated from across the country to cut their own special tree.

“We wanted to live our own Christmas movie,” said Tracy Birdwhistell, the mother of the group, happily decked out in holiday attire.

The wagon comes to a stop. Saws are distributed. Thousands of Fraser firs are in sight, ripe for the taking. Tracy’s 15-year-old daughter finds a tree her height. She wraps her arms around the tree for a hug.

“I love this,” she said, smiling from ear to ear. 

Their son, Chilton, points further up the mountain to a Fraser fir nearly 10 feet tall. 

“Come see this one, I think this is it!” he shouts.

There are nods of agreement with the merry group: father and son begin working in tandem to bring down the tree. It topples over to cheers of excitement and laughter.

“It’s the whole adventure,” Tracy said. “Walking here around the mountain until you find the right tree, and then having to use your effort to cut it and bring it home.”

Sandy Hollar Farm 2

Other Options for Christmas Tree Adventures

Although Sandy Hollar Farm was the first in the Asheville area and remains the only one in Buncombe County, Western North Carolina has several choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms. Some are located in nearby Waynesville, such as Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm and Mehaffey Tree Farm.

Other nearby options are Tom Sawyer's Christmas Tree Farm in Cashiers, Cartner Christmas Tree Farm in Newland, and others that you can find on the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association website.

Local Western North Carolina Fraser firs are also available in Christmas tree lots across Asheville, such as the WNC Farmer’s Market

Why are the Blue Ridge Mountains the perfect place for Christmas trees? The highlands of Southern Appalachia have the ideal growing conditions for the most beloved Christmas tree species, the native Fraser fir, naturally occurring in high-altitude forests and flourishing in cold weather.

Christmas Tree Asheville

The History Of North Carolina’s Christmas Tree

There’s no Christmas without a tree, and in Asheville, the favored Fraser fir happens to be a native species. With its classic cone shape and dark green needles, what makes the Fraser truly distinctive is its rich piney aroma: the smell of Christmas. 

What may come as a surprise is that North Carolina is the second biggest Christmas tree producer in the country. According to the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, some 1,600 Christmas tree farms produce more than 58 million trees a year on over 38,000 acres of farmland. More than 90% of these trees are Fraser firs. 

And the Fraser, the star of Christmas, has been the selected tree at the White House a record 14 times. 

The tree’s name comes from Scottish botanist John Fraser, whose botanical expeditions of  Southern Appalachia in the 1700s led to his cataloging of this unique, high-altitude species. Because of the naturally cool conditions and abundant rainfall in its habitat, the Fraser fir maintains its needles throughout the holiday season.  

Wherever you are this Christmas, here’s to celebrating around the tree. And if you haven’t yet had the experience of finding and cutting just the right one, make it your next family tradition. 

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