Spend a Perfect Day in Apple Hill
Autumn is officially here, and there’s no better way to take in all it has to offer than a visit to Apple Hill. A trek up the hill to the scenic farms outside of Placerville in El Dorado County is an autumn tradition! The crisp mountain air, the falling leaves, and the rows upon rows of apple trees make it the perfect fall day trip. Apple Hill has more to offer than ambiance alone. Of course, there are the apples, in all shapes and forms — fresh picked, baked into pies, pressed into juice, and candied. But Apple Hill offers everything from wine tasting to shopping. Following are some of the best ways to spend a perfect day in Apple Hill
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! Following are some of the farms in Apple Hill where you can pick your own (note: Upick apples typically have limited quantities, so when they’re gone, they’re gone – it’s recommended to check in advance).
- Sloan Winters Mountain Orchard & Garden,
- Goyette’s North Canyon Ranch
- Denver Dans’s
- Pine-O-Mine Ranch
- Goodness Orchard
- Harris Family Farm
- Smokey Ridge Ranch
Have Dessert First
There are so many bakeries in Apple Hill it’s hard to choose just one. Luckily, you don’t have to! Today is no day for watching the waistline, so go crazy! You can find everything here, from flaky, buttery apple pies, decadent 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?
Apple Hill is arguably one of the only places where it’s socially accepted (and expected) to have dessert first. Afterward, balance that blood sugar with a hearty lunch from one of the many food vendors in the area. 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.
Find the Perfect Pumpkin
Visiting Apple Hill in October? It’s a great place to find the perfect Halloween 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. Other Upick pumpkin patches include 24Carrot Farm, Sloan Winters Mountain Orchard & Garden, Goodness Orchard, Harris Family Farm and Smokey Ridge Ranch.
Get a Jump Start on Holiday Shopping
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.
Go Wine (or Beer, or Cider) Tasting
Contrary to popular belief, Apple Hill isn’t just for kids. There are several spots in the area where grown-ups can have fun too. There are numerous wineries to check out, where you can sip beneath the trees and take in the splendor of the season. Some to try include Lava Cap, Boeger, Madroña, Fenton Herriott, and Starfield Vineyards, among many others. You can learn more about El Dorado County Wines and download a map at eldoradowines.org. Wine not your thing? No worries. Apple Hill has other options as well. Jack Russell Farm Brewery has craft beer, mead and cider to enjoy on a large patio with picnic tables, while Hwy 50 Brewery offers blondes, IPAs and stouts alongside pizza and bar bites — plus live music. If it’s hard cider you’re after, you can follow the Apple Hill Hard Cider Trail and check out North Canyon Cider Company, Hidden Star, and High Hill Ranch.