Just off U.S. 50, the country roads of Apple Hill
Folded into the Sierra foothills midway between Sacramento and
South Lake Tahoe, Apple Hill offers 18 apple varieties– pressed into
cider, baked, or sold fresh at low cost. For a side trip just off U.S.
Highway 50, you can stop here to enjoy the fall harvest. Most varieties
reach their peak of ripeness this month, but many of the region’s
fruit stands and bake shops are open through Christmas.
Scattered along Apple Hill’s country roads are 42 small
orchards, each with a red apple-shaped sign out in front. Some tempt
you with helicopter and horsedrawn buggy rides, ponds stocked with trout, and craft booths; others just rely on the glorious apple, sold as
is or made into doughnuts and fritters, pies and cakes, sauce and cider.
You can get a standard 20-pound 1/2-bushel box of Red Delicious apples
for about $5.50. Many orchards also sell apples in smaller amounts, as
well as pumpkins, pears, and other produce.
You’ll find splendid fresh-air picnicking among the maples and
aspens–usually brightest with color the first week of November –and
pines. Half the orchards have picnic tables, and some sell sandwiches.
Top the meal off with fresh cider; a gallon goes for around $3. Crowds
are thinner away from the highway.
Five of the orchards let you pick your own fruit (bring
containers); you can choose your apples more carefully this way, and pay
less than you would for alreadypicked apples. These orchards are listed
with other growers on an Apple Hill map. To get the map and the Cider
Press newsletter, stop by any member farm, or send a stamped,
self-addressed business-size envelope to Apple Hill Growers, Box 494,
On Sunday, November 4, you can romp around the orchards in the
Apple Hill Harvest Run. Race distances are 3 miles, 6 1/2 miles,
and–for ages 10 and under– 1/2 mile; the first race begins at 8:30
A.M. The prize for all finishers? A fresh apple. For details, write
Apple Hill Growers at the address above.
Later this fall, you can return to cut your own Christmas tree.
Eighteen tree farms in and near Apple Hill open November 26; for a map,
send a stamped, selfaddressed envelope to El Dorado County Christmas
Tree Growers, Box 423, Placerville 95667.
From U.S. 50, exit north on any of these five exits between
downtown Placerville and Pollock Pines: Schnell School Road, Carson
Road, Camino, Cedar Grove, and Pollock Pines. The well-signed orchards
are hard to miss.
Photo: Juicy red Rome Beauties are this family’s bounty at one
of Apple Hill’s orchards. Five places have you-pick operations
Photo: Four-inch-tall slices of just-baked apple pie make a hefty
afternoon snack. The full pie weighs 5 pounds; apples are shredded, not
sliced, for added bulk and taste