Celebrate fall at Apple Hill
By: Karin Sharon
Fall is the time of year to celebrate the incredible and magical transformations that nature undergoes. Many individuals have their own traditions on how to enjoy this beautiful season, but most often they involve colorful leaves and harvested produce. Lucky enough, South Lake Tahoe is just an hour’s drive away from the autumnal wonderland that is Apple Hill Growers Association, Located between Pollock Pines and Placerville, this community is comprised of more than 50 ranches that include apple orchards, pumpkin patches, wineries, and Christmas tree farms. In my experience (and that of many others), an annual trip to these farmlands is a must.
I recommend the best way to navigate Apple Hill and experience all that it has to offer is to grab a map at the first ranch you pass by once there or download and print this PDF Map. Most of the farms and orchards follow a looped route, making for easy access along the way. Some visitors enjoy just driving along and stopping at each ranch that they see, while others prefer picking specific ones of the map. Any method you decide upon will showcase the wonderful and unique discoveries at Apple Hill. Download the official Apple Hill App.
One of the most popular sites is High Hill Ranch. Overlooking incredible valley views, this spot boasts their popular apple cider, apple pies, and homemade fudge. The grassy areas near the pond make for a great picnic and children’s play area, so it’s a perfect spot to enjoy a scenic lunch after buying some delectable goodies.
Delfino Farms, formerly, Kids Inc. is also a popular ranch, it’s a great choice both for kids and adults (it’s one of my traditional stops). Visitors can watch the apple pies they are about to eat being made; pick pumpkins from the patch to turn into Jack-O-Lanterns or yummy pumpkin treats; interact with farm animals in the petting area; explore the corn maze; and sample the craft-brewed hard apple cider. Kids Inc. also has a gorgeous Nature Trail, leading guests on a winding path through the orchard and down to a creek.
Another must-see spot is Rainbow Orchards. There you can fill up bags with apples and gourds to take home, as well as buy ready-made souvenir pies to bake once you’re back home, as a reminder of the special time you had at Apple Hill. Don’t be alarmed by the line of people; they are waiting for the warm, fluffy Apple Cider Donuts that are worth the wait! Just the donuts alone are worth the drive to Apple Hill, in my opinion.
While California boasts popular wine countries, you don’t need to book a weekend in Napa in order to experience some incredible wine tasting. Apple Hill is also proud to host award-winning wineries that are available for guests to tour and taste the seasonal fare. Offering wine-tasting menus for just under $10 a person, each winery has a unique atmosphere and breathtaking views of vineyards and valleys.
Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year and Apple Hill is a quintessential autumn haven. Throughout the years, as so much of the world is transforming and moving forward, this quaint locale has kept its charm. So clear a weekend and bring your apple picking sacks and empty stomachs to Apple Hill.
Which Apple Hill ranch is your favorite must-see? What delicious apple treats do you enjoy baking? Please share with me your fall traditions!