Visited: October 2017
If you are living or visiting California in Autumn, there are so many ways to fill in your days. But the best possible place is Apple Hill. A trip to Apple Hill is the quintessential fall experience. Located between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe right off Highway 50 you can make a great day trip to Apple Hill that tempts you with more than 50 apple farms to choose from!
APPLES! And Much More.
Apple hill is much more than apples, although you can get a multitude of varieties there! You basically just drive around and discover everyone’s ideas of apple uses: apple dumplings, apple pie (Dutch, French, or Traditional), apple beer, apple wine, hard apple cider, apple fritters, apple crisp, apple cake, apple strudel, apple turnovers, apple cider, apple cider vinegar,apple syrup, apple jam, apple butter, apple cider milkshakes, apple cider doughnuts, caramel apples, apple brownies, apple cookies, apple salads, and of course APPLE PICKING to take home. Duh. They also have:
- Berry picking
- Horseback riding
- For the Kids: Hay rides, Arts and Crafts, Scavenger Hunts, Scarecrow contests, Face painting….
- Cooking classes: Pies, Jams, Kids cooking classes….
- Pumpkin patches
- Christmas Tree Farms
- Wineries with tasting rooms.
“The apples you buy at the grocery store are bred to be bulletproof for travel; they’re not necessarily bred for taste,” said Ann Wofford, executive director of the Apple Hill Growers Association. “Eating a Red Delicious right off the tree is an entirely different experience. And, chances are, the person selling it to you is the one who planted it, or pruned it, or picked it.”
Things to Know:
- Visiting all of the farms are free and free to park, but you do have to pay for the apples you pick or the entertainment to want to experience.
- Bring your own boxes and packaging. Many farms will not be able to accommodate everyone with boxes to safely bring home their apples or frozen apple pies. So bring a few packing boxes or a cooler to tote your apple treasures home.
- Leashed pets are allowed on all the farms but you are not allowed to leave them unattended in your car or tied to a tree. Keep your furry friend close.
- If you want to pick apples, come early! Many of the farms were out of apples to pick by early October so if you want to have the experience of gathering your own, you may want to try and visit in August or September.
- Weekends are extremely busy. Come early or come later in the day. Come early and have a hot apple cider doughnut for breakfast and pick your apples in the cool morning. Or come late to enjoy the afternoon/evening setting sun illuminating the fall leaf colors.
- There are three main “Apple Hill” exits — 48, 49, and 54. You absolutely MUST plan your apple farm visiting strategy by downloading a map before you go at applehill.com or enjoy the Apple Hill app Download the App from iTunes or through Google Play. There is just so much to do and see you are better off picking a few farms that are a must and see the other farms if you have time or the stomach for it.
- If you plan to visit the wineries, please drink responsibly and use a designated driver.
Apple Pantry Farm
Apple Pantry Farm was the first Apple Hill farm we ever visited. It has been time and time again, our favorite place to grab an apple snack and relax in the shady trees. My favorite are the apple turnovers. So simple, yet so mouthwatering delicious you buy more to take home. We didn’t try the pie because we already had some, but I’ve heard people RAVE over them. Make a bee line straight to the huge lettered “BAKE SHOP” sign then have a seat, the sweetest ladies on the Apple Hills will bring your order out too you.
Apple Pantry is the most beautiful of the farms with wide open spaces and lots of trees to rest under. There are plenty of seating places and group picnic areas to enjoy. If you are not fond of crowds than this farm is perfect for a quiet piece of pie heaven.
Tips: The farm has gravel parking and restrooms available.
Apple Pantry Farm | 2310 Hidden Valley Way, Camino, CA 95709 | 530-318-2834
Apple Ridge Farm
Apple Ridge Farm is best known for their many activites to do and is a good place to start if you’ve never been to Apple Hill or are limited on time. With rolling hills, kid-friendly hiking trails looping around the apple trees, a bakery, a BBQ house, and souvenir store ensure you are fed and happy before you leave.
The children get many choices of activities from walking through the pumpkin patch, exploring near the pond,a small but fun hay maze, mining experiences, and plenty of fall photo-op stations.
Tips: Having one of the largest parking lots on Apple Hill, Apple Ridge Farm makes for the ideal meeting destination friends or groups. Outhouse-style restrooms. There used to be a wonderful petting-zoo but that has been closed down for the safety of the animal’s health.
Apple Ridge Farm | 1800 Larsen Dr, Camino, CA 95709 | 530-647-0613
Denver Dan’s Apple Patch
Denver Dan’s Apple Patch is the best to get the most out of your Apple Hill experience. The classic old-fashioned barn hosts both apple treats, apple crafts, and best of all an expansive area of You-Pick apples available. If you have children, bring them to the back of the barn for their chance to participate in the Apple Spiral Show and walk away with an Apple Thumbs Up.
It is a small area that fills up fast on the weekends, but it’s completely worth it for their delicious apple cookies and dumplings. Rest at one of the rustic picnic tables to complete the experience.
Tips: Cookin’ Kids classes are offered weekdays twice a day and teach kids how to make their own apple pie. Pies are packaged up afterwards and sent home with the little bakers. Gravel lot parking and restrooms with running water are available.
Denver Dan’s Apple Patch | 4354 Bumble Bee Ln, Camino, CA 95709 | 530-644-6881
High Hill Ranch
One of the largest farms on Apple High, High Hill Ranch has craft booths, pie shops, fishing, hay rides, restaurants, pony rides, and more. Perhaps the “foodiest” of the Apple Hill farms, High Hill Ranch is known for their goodies and is probably the most Instagram-ed of all the farms. Park between the apple trees themselves and head to the lake.
Bring a picnic or grab some delicious perfectly-roasted chicken with apple salad to sit on the banks of the fishing pond to watch all the family memory chaos.
Don’t leave without getting some famous apple cider doughnuts. The doughnuts come in more varieties than any other farm and there is usually a long line to get them. They are definitely worth the wait though! You could wash that doughnut down with an apple cider shake, some fresh pressed apple cider from the Cider Mill, or some local apple wine from the tasting room.
Tips: Restrooms with running water are available. Head to the back of the farm, past the pony rides to access the Fudge Factory farm.
High Hill Ranch | 2901 High Hill Rd, Placerville, CA 95667 | 530-644-1973
Fudge Factory Farm
An official farm of the Apple Hill growers association, but they do not grow apples. Instead they are the center of the sweets when you want something more than apples. Fudge, caramel apples, jams, jellies, marshmallows, and handpicked berries from the hills.
There is a quiet shaded play area for the kids. A pair of pet alpacas that you can view. Don’t forget to take a selfie with Fudgie the Bear in front of the shop!
Fudge Facory Farm | 2860 High Hill Rd. Placerville, CA 95667 | 530-644-3492
Mill View Ranch
Mill View Ranch has has set their business model is targeting young customers and families with kids. With an amazing miniature “Kids Town” complete with schools, churches, fire stations and even a pirate ship, little visitors of all ages will love going there.
Not to mention the other fun activities: crafting vendors, a pumpkin patch, BBQ and bake shop, an extensive craft shop…Mill View Ranch has what families are looking for. Let the kids loose in Kid Town while the adults sit back and enjoy the picturesque vineyards and trees down the hill.
Tips: The craft vendors are open Friday-Monday only. Dirt parking and outhouse-style restrooms are available.
Mill View Ranch | 2740 Cable Road, Camino, CA | 530-622-6885
Larsen’s Apple Barn
Larsen’s Apple Barn is the longest-running family-operated farm in Apple Hill; it has been around since 1860 (For reference: California became a state in 1850); expanding to now include over 10 varieties of apples. In the barn you can watch the workers sort and box up apples or taste the many varieties of them before you choose which kinds to bring home.
Across the parking lot is a small bake shop with apple goodies as well as sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers (veggie and regular), and chips. View the beautiful water wheel or fall colors of Apple Hill.
Tip: Larsen’s is closed on Saturdays.
Larsen’s Apple Barn | 2461 Larsen Dr, Camino, CA 95709 | 530-644-1415
These farms are just a few of the 55 Ranches and other fun offered on Apple Hill. Enjoy a strategic day trip or make a weekend out of it.
You really cannot go wrong visiting Apple Hill in the autumn. The foods, the flavors, the colors all meld together for an unforgettable experience.