The Roots of Christmas Are In North Jersey’s Tree Farms

Photo Courtesy of Dixieland Farm in Chatham, NJ

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Nothing can replicate the scent of a freshly cut Christmas tree.  Perhaps that’s because it is more a memory than a smell. With that sweet-piney aroma comes Dad’s slushy boots walking through the living room with the tree in tow, dust billowing off ornaments as they’re unwrapped for the season, and decorative lights waiting to guide Santa Claus.  Our local tree farms help preserve these old-fashioned family traditions by providing the quintessential choose and cut Christmas tree experience. If you’re pining for the holidays, plan a trip to one of the North Jersey tree farms outlined in our directory.

Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm

249 County Road 519, Belvidere, NJ


Hours: Daily, 8am – 4:30pm through December 24

Services: Choose and cut

Choose and cut trees: Douglas Fir, Blue Spruce, Fraser Fir, Norway Spruce, White Pine, Concolor Fir

Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm is White House approved. The 170-acre family owned and operated farm presented Michelle Obama the Blue Room Christmas Tree after receiving the 2013 National Christmas Tree Association’s Grand Champion Award. Additionally, the White House staff handpicked four 10-foot Fraser Firs from Wyckoff’s to display on their grounds. On weekends, customers can go on a narrated tour of the grounds or visit the holiday gift shop, which is open from 9am to 4:30pm.

Shale Hills Christmas Tree Farm

98 Pond School Road, Sussex, NJ


Hours: Weekends, 10am – dusk through December 25

Services: Choose and cut and precut trees

Choose and cut trees: Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Concolor Fir

Owner Mike Garrett has lived on Shale Hills Farm since he was three years old, and in that time, he’s mastered the art of Christmas.  The weekend after Thanksgiving, the farm practically becomes the North Pole. While Mrs. Claus makes everything from warm pretzels to cinnamon rolls in her Candy Cane Cottage, “The Real Olde World Santa” stops by for photos in his Throne Room. Live baby animals frolic in a heated 19th-century barn and children watch a free Christmas movie in the hayloft. There’s one popular activity at Shale Hills that’s often not associated with Christmas: tailgating. According to Garrett, families park their cars and spend the day at the farm snacking and socializing, even in the most frigid temperatures.

Dixiedale Farm

347 Hillside Avenue & River Road, Chatham, NJ


Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 9am – 3:30pm through December 23

Services: Choose and cut and precut trees

Choose and cut trees: Norway Spruce

Since 1911, the Averett family has offered its customers old-fashioned hospitality, complete with hot cider, cookies, and a fire pit to warm up. For the past 22 years, John Sweeney has managed the 10-acre farm that’s only 30-40 minutes from New York City. Dixiedale is not just family-friendly, but also dog-friendly; Sweeney is known to hand out biscuits to canine visitors helping their owners pick out a Christmas tree.

Dower Christmas Tree Farm

4 Todd Avenue, Peapack, NJ


Hours: Daily, 9am – 4pm through December 25 (appointment requested on weekdays)

Services: Choose and cut and precut trees

Choose and cut trees: Canaan Firs, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir

The 65-acre Dower Tree Farm has close to 1,000 trees ready to be hand cut for Christmas. While this alone is a sight to see, it’s the view of the Peapack Hills that makes Dower Farm such a spectacular place. A family-owned farm for over 100 years, Dower was named an officially preserved farmland in 2010.  The architectural firm responsible for the New York Public Library also designed the farm’s original house and grounds in collaboration with the landscape architect responsible for the Lincoln Memorial. Today, the farm is owned by Mark and Anne van den Bergh, and managed by John Jablonski.

Photo Courtesy of Hidden Pond Tree Farm in Mendham, NJ

Hidden Pond Tree Farm

4 West Field Road, Mendham, NJ


Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 8am – 5pm (call ahead for Monday hours) through December 20

Services: Choose and cut and precut trees, wreaths

Choose and cut trees: Canaan Fir, Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, Meyer’s Spruce

As the President of the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association, Chris Nicholson is always thinking of the holiday season. That’s why the motto of his tree farm is, “Where Christmas grows all year round.” Nicholson has owned and operated the Hidden Pond Tree Farm since 2000 with the help of his wife, daughter, and his parents. In addition to choose and cut trees, Hidden Pond offers larger precut Fraser Firs that were harvested from their farm in Pennsylvania. For the first time this year Nicholson will be selling Meyer’s Spruces, a smaller tree native to China that has recently risen in popularity.  Nicholson explains that the tree is particularly fitting for his customers living in New York City apartments. “Hidden Pond sells the experience just as much as the tree,” he says.  In accordance, Nicholson’s farm offers hot cocoa, hayrides, a bonfire with marshmallows, and lots of holiday cheer.

Wolgast Tree Farm

176 Bennetts Lane, Somerset, NJ


Hours: Weekends, 9am – 5pm through December 24

Services: Choose and cut trees

Choose and cut trees: White Pine, Scotch Pine, Austrian Pine, Canaan Fir, Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce, Blue Spruce

“I’m all about the bees and Len is all about the trees,” says Cathy Blumig, co-owner of Wolgast Tree Farms. In 1977, Blumig and Len Wolgast turned their passion for nature into a business. Wolgast, a Professor Emeritus of Wildlife Ecology and Management at Rutgers University, runs the tree farm, and in recent years, Blumig has taken up beekeeping. Along with a variety of choose and cut trees, customers can purchase homemade honey and honey products such as soap, lotion bars, and lip balm. Like most farmers, Blumig and Wolgast use a variety of methods to thwart off deer in order to protect their trees.  However, to Blumig’s amusement, one of their customers requests a tree with buck rub each season.

Photo courtesy of Circelli Tree Farm in Somerset, NJ

Circelli Tree Farm

334 Skillman Lane, Somerset, NJ


Hours: Weekends and Black Friday, 9am – 5pm through December 24

Services: Choose and cut and precut trees

Choose and cut trees: Douglas Fir, Blue Spruce, Fraser Fir, Concolor Fir

Since 1997, Circelli Tree Farm has attracted families in pursuit of the perfect Christmas tree, not to mention free hot chocolate and cookies.  The farm’s family-friendly atmosphere is rooted in their family-owned and operated business.  Although all three of Rita and Anthony Circelli’s children are out of the house, they come home to assist their parents each holiday season. They handle everything from the tree farm’s Facebook page to its handmade grave blankets. Circelli Farm can also provide a scenic backdrop for this year’s family portrait. According to Rita, a local photographer often brings her clients to the farm for photo sessions. In addition to trees, customers can find wreaths, holly, and firewood at this Somerset locale.

Photo courtesy of Simonson Farms in Cranbury, NJ

Simonson Farms

260 Dey Road, Cranbury, NJ (choose and cut trees)

120 Cranbury Neck Road, Cranbury, NJ (choose and cut trees)

118 Dey Road, Plainsboro, NJ  (precut trees)


Hours: 260 Dey Road: Weekends, 9am – dusk through December 23

120 Cranbury Neck Road: Monday–Friday, Noon – dusk through  December 23

118 Dey Road: opens Noon – 7pm on  weekdays through December 24 Services: Choose and cut and precut trees

Choose and cut trees available: Exotic Firs, Douglas Fir, Concolor Fir, Canaan Fir, White Pine, Norway Spruce, Blue Spruce, White Spruce

Simonson Farms has three locations, four generations, and more trees than you can count. Rodger and Samantha Jany currently run the family owned and operated business, but their children, ages three, four, and eight, think the fifth generation has already taken over. Although a tad small to tow trees, the Jany kids try their best to assist their parents, cousins, grandparents, and the rest of the clan with the farms’ Christmas operations. At Cranbury Road, visitors take a holiday-clad covered wagon to select and cut their tree of choice. It’s also the location of their annual Candy Cane Hunt, where Santa Claus acts as the event’s biggest cheerleader. In addition to precut trees, the Dey Road location offers food trucks, homemade popcorn, and a Christmas shop.

Evergreen Valley Christmas Tree Farm

77 Jackson Valley Road, Washington, NJ


Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 9am – 4pm through December 23

Services: Choose and cut trees

Choose and cut trees: Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, White Pine, Canaan Fir, Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce

As the winners of the Grand Champion prize at the New Jersey State Christmas Tree Contest, it’s clear that the Alpaugh family takes the old-fashioned choose-and-cut experience into a modern arena. Aside from wagon rides, Santa Claus, homemade wreaths, and tailgating, this third generation farm shares extensive information online. Their website simplifies the tree-selection process by providing photos of each species, along with a close-up of its branches, to help customers identify their tree of choice. This is particularly useful at this vibrant tree farm as they offer over 10,000 trees each season. In keeping with its name, Evergreen Valley has undying Christmas spirit. Throughout the winter, you’ll find their loyal clientele making holiday memories alongside their friends and family—and even their dogs.

Tree Tips: Like all living things, freshly cut trees require special attention and care. The National Christmas Tree Association offers tips to keep your tree healthy throughout the holidays. They suggest using a tree stand that can hold one quart of water per inch of stem diameter. By cutting a 1/2-inch disk from the bottom of the trunk, a tree’s water uptake can be improved. They also warn to never let the water level go below the base of the tree. According to the experts, a tree lasts longer in cooler temperatures, so it should be kept away from major heat sources. Once the tree is dry, it becomes a fire hazard, and should be removed from your home. For more tree care tips, visit the National Christmas Tree Association’s website at