Apple Hill is Open: Here are the Top Spots for Apples, Pumpkins & More!
Note: This post was updated Sept. 25, 2020.
For most people, fall means turning leaves, football, and pumpkin spice. But for Sacramento residents, fall means one thing: Apple Hill! A trek up the hill to the scenic farms outside of Placerville in El Dorado County is an autumn tradition. Not only can you buy just about every variety of apple imaginable, you can also find apple-related goodies like donuts, pies, cider and apple butter. Best of all, Apple Hill makes for a fun day trip for adults and kids alike, with apple picking, pumpkin patches, picnic grounds and nature walks.
This year, Apple Hill might look a bit different. With Covid-19 precautions in effect, farms are requiring both visitors and employees to wear masks at all times. Many have implemented social distancing and additional sanitation measures. Groups are limited to six people or fewer, and some farms are requiring reservations be made in advance to reduce the number of visitors at any one time. It is recommended to call ahead or check social media for the most up-to-date information. Following are some of our favorite things to do in Apple Hill.
Ditch the Diet
It’s best to forget about carbs and calories when visiting Apple Hill. The many great bakeries there serve buttery, flaky apple pies, decadent apple fritters and melt-in-your-mouth apple cake. Larson Apple Barn has a wide variety of pies, including apple, pumpkin and berry, as well as turnovers and dumplings. High Hill Ranch also has an expansive shop with pies, donuts, fritters, caramel apples and even caramel apple cider milkshakes!
If you have allergies or don’t eat animal products, visit Apple Pantry Farm; they have vegan options and do not use any nuts in their recipes. Grandpa’s Cellar has a 7-pound party pie and is one of the only spots where you can find gluten-free pastries like crisps, cookies and muffins.
If it’s an apple donut you’re after, head to Rainbow Orchards, which is renowned for their hot, cinnamony delights, as well as pies, cobblers, crisps and tarts. Or, how about an apple donut ice cream sandwich at Boa Vista Orchards?
Have a Picnic Lunch
If you’re a responsible adult and insist on “real” food before dessert, there are plenty of spots in Apple Hill to pick up lunch. Bodhaine Ranch serves comforting dishes like pot pie, tamales and tri-tip sandwiches, while Boa Vista Orchards has deli sandwiches and burgers. Abels Apple Acres specializes in smoked meats like pulled pork and tri-tip, and also has a chicken pot pie in a bread bowl. High Hill Ranch also serves lunch, with BBQ items like tri-tip, burgers and sausage, as well as grilled cheese and black bean burgers for the non-meat eaters. Or, if you prefer, you can pack your own lunch and picnic amongst the apple trees; many farms offer shaded picnic tables where you can spread out and relax, including Apple Pantry Farm.
Pick Your Own Apples
There’s something about traipsing through an apple orchard, taking in the autumn sunshine, and picking your own apples. Not only do you get to pick the freshest apples possible, you get to enjoy the fresh air while doing it! Some you-pick farms in Apple Hill include Sloan Winters Mountain Orchard & Garden, Goyette’s North Canyon Ranch, and Goodness Orchard, which has 12 antique apple varieties as well as veggies (reservations required).
Take a Nature Walk
Apple Hill is, naturally, atop a forested mountain, so it’s not surprising that visitors want to get out and explore! Several farms have nature trails on their properties, including Apple Ridge Farms, which has a butterfly trail lined with more than 50,000 Zinnia flowers! Harris Family Farm, which grows Christmas trees as well as fruits and veggies, has a nature trail through the trees, as well as a picnic spot in the orchard. O’Hallorans Apple Trail Ranch also has a nature trail, as does Grandpa’s Cellar, whose trail winds through native forest, complete with a trickling creek.
Find the Perfect Pumpkin
Visiting Apple Hill in October? It’s a great place to find the perfect pumpkin for your front porch. In addition to pumpkins, many farms also grow other fall staples like ornamental corn and gourds. Delfino Farms has a 3-acre you-pick pumpkin patch as well as a 2-acre corn maze. O’Hallorans Apple Trail Ranch also has a you-pick pumpkin patch. Apple Ridge Farms has a pumpkin patch, as well as pictures with the giant pumpkin and a hay bale maze for the little ones. High Hill Ranch also has pumpkins, as well as hay rides through the orchards. Boa Vista Orchards has a scenic pumpkin patch overlooking the canyon beyond.
Shop Til You Drop
In addition to apples, many farms in Apple Hill also have a variety of other fruits and veggies for sale, so you can stock up for the week. Many also produce gourmet food items from their bounties, such as jams and jellies, fruit and nut butters, honey, dehydrated fruit, sauces and other items. Some good bets include Sloan Winters Mountain Orchard & Garden, an organic farm that has items such as mulberry plum jam and cranberry spice jam; Apple Ridge Farms, which has homemade fudge, BBQ sauce and apple butters as well as local handicrafts; and Rainbow Orchards, which has jams, butters, syrups and vinegars. At Grandpa’s Cellar, you can find local honey, jams and jellies, vintage cookware, soup mixes, home decor and local crafts. In fact, many farms host artisan fairs during the busy season. High Hill Ranch has one of the largest, with local vendors selling handmade jewelry, artwork, clothing and more. Boa Vista also has a large arts & crafts fair, with everything from hand-sewn aprons to bath bombs, meat rubs to yard art.