Fall guide to Apple Hill: Where to pick, sip cider and eat donuts near Lake Tahoe
GOOD TO KNOW
Overwhelmed by the options in Apple Hill? There’s an app for that. Download the Official Apple Hill Grower app to see what each of the farms offers and get directions.
Three left turns on eastbound U.S. Highway 50 in the Camino area — 5 Mile Road and the two Carson Road exits — will be closed on weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the month of October due to increased traffic to Apple Hill, according to Caltrans. Eastbound drivers will be directed to continue on to Exit 54, the third Carson Road exit.
Nestled in the Sierra Foothills outside of Placerville are more than 50 farms, ranches and orchards collectively known as Apple Hill. With the aspens beginning to turn a golden yellow and the temperature slowly creeping down, there is no better time to hop in the car for a day of picking fruit, sampling hard cider and munching on apple donuts.
There are over a dozen farms in Apple Hill that allow patrons to head out into the orchards to pick apples and other produce for themselves. At Denver Dan’s, pickers can harvest grapes from the vine after getting their fill of apples. At 24Carrot Farm, choose from a range of fall veggies, including pumpkins, once the baskets are full of apples. Sloan Winters Mountain Orchard and Garden has pear and apple trees ripe for the picking.
Other fall you-pick options: Delfino Farms, Goyette’s North Canyon Ranch, Argyres Orchards, Windmiller Farm, Bolster’s Hilltop Ranch, Goodness Orchard, and Harris Tree Farm.
TREAT YO’ SELF
Apple fritters, blackberry sour cream pie, and blueberry dumplings — these are just a handful of the sweet treats coming out of the oven at Boa Vista Orchards. Started in 1915, the farm stand is open 363 days a year and sells 22 different varieties of apples and hundreds of fruit-based products like jams and sauces. For the kids, there’s apple cider. For the adults, the flight of flavored hard ciders, apple beer and hoppy ale can’t be missed. At Abel’s Apple Acres, it’s all about the mixed-fruit pies: pumpkin apple, cherry apple, buttermilk apple berry, and apple strawberry rhubarb, to name a few. If you need a break from the sweet, pop over to Terry’s Country Cuisine on the property for hearty BBQ sandwiches, garlic fries and homemade soup.
FOR THE KIDS
High Hill Ranch is a kid’s paradise. The little ones can go on a tractor hayride through the orchard, fish in the trout pond, ride a pony, explore 50 plus arts and crafts booths set up on the property, and slurp down an apple cider milkshake while the parents enjoy a glass of apple wine. For a different set of activities, head down to Delfino Farms where there are two corn mazes, a quarter-mile nature trail, a pumpkin patch, farm animals and acres of lawn for picnicking.
If the donuts, pies and fritters weren’t enough, Placerville’s quaint downtown has a number of fantastic restaurants. At Heyday Café, kick off the meal with a cup of lobster bisque and a burrata caprese salad before diving into a butternut squash and bacon pizza or smoked Gouda mushroom fettuccini. At Bricks Eats and Drinks, the burger and sandwich options are extensive with items like the Bo Peep Burger (ground lamb, pickled cucumbers, feta, grilled onions and paprika yogurt sauce) and the Grilled Cheese with Fried Green Tomato (made with Gouda, cheddar and jack cheese with tomatillo salsa). For a healthy bite, check out Cozmic Café where the food is organic, fresh and simple, like the Very Veggie Wrap, Vegan BLT, Gold Rush Salad and the Fit Fish Bowl.