UPDATE: Cameron Park is about 10 miles west of the Apple Hill ranches, which are actually located in Camino, Placerville and Pollock Pines. (Apple Hill Growers Association gives these directions — sorry, I’m “directionally challenged.”)
We live in Sacramento, California. It is a great blessing to live a very short distance from many different beautiful places. We are literally 90 minutes from the ocean to the west and 90 minutes from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east. What more could a person ask? About 50 miles from our home is a wonderful treasure called Apple Hill, which is a place that brings me great joy. It is a gorgeous day trip any time of the year, but autumn brings absolute wonder to this place. Last year about this same time, I posted some Apple Hill pictures on my old blog. This morning we returned to Apple Hill for our annual breath of autumn. It just doesn’t seem like autumn without a trip to Apple Hill, Cameron Park, near Placerville, California.
Years ago, the apple orchards on the hill decided to band together, cut out the middle man, and sell their apples right on the orchards. It has been more than a little successful. As a matter of fact, they have had phenomenal success. There are many ways to visit Apple Hill depending on what type of experience you are looking to have. Each of the orchard farms is different, and each has its own unique flavor — and I chose the word “flavor” purposefully.
Some orchards sell pre-boxed apples to take home, and then there are “pick your own” orchards. Many of the orchards sell wonderful apple products — pies, fritters, cider, apple butter, turnovers, jams, jellies, and a myriad of other yummies. The fragrance alone will put weight on the bones. If you don’t like apples, try the blueberry, elderberry, and pumpkin yummies — just to name a few.
There are kid friendly orchards with pumpkin patches, hay rides, baked goods, animals to pet, ponies to ride, and even a train. You can have your face painted, walk through a hay bale maze, walk a nature trail, go fishing, decorate pumpkins, watch a pottery making demonstration, go on a scavenger hunt, learn how to make an apple wreath, or walk a crooked mile. My kids always loved “walking pies” and apple fritters from Kids Inc. (Orchard #5 on the Apple Hill map).
Today we stopped at Bodhaine Ranch (Orchard #68 on the Apple Hill map). We found some cool craft booths, but the most fun for us was the interaction with some animals.
If you love crafts, there are craft booths that can keep you busy all day. I’d recommend going on a weekend if you’re going for the crafts, but even during the week, you can find some crafts. However, if you go on a weekend in October, you should seriously consider taking the shuttle bus from Placerville. It will save you parking headaches and assure a pleasurable experience.
Now that my children are grown, I enjoy Apple Hill in a whole new dimension. The last two years, we have seen parts of Apple Hill that we’ve never seen before, and in a whole new way. We are at that quiet stage of our lives where we love to be out in the sunshine and fresh air enjoying nature, but one of us (me) has some artificial parts and can’t walk very far. A bad back and a steel plate and screws in my right ankle are sometimes a challenge — but Apple Hill provides wonderful areas that I can enjoy pain free and without three days of recuperation time.
O’Hallorans Apple Trail Ranch (Orchard #18 on the Apple Hill map), is a cute place which sells apples and crafts, and they have a nice pumpkin patch for the kids. A cleverly crafted Tin Man greeted us at the door. Tall pink, purple, and white wild flowers grace the front of the building, which just made me smile. It’s a happy little place, and we found the owners quite pleasant and helpful too. As we left their driveway, a herd of deer crossed in front of our vehicle. Unfortunately, it took me a minute to stop and get my camera out, but I did manage to get a few pictures (while not the best) after they crossed the road.
Bill’s Apples/Felice’s Dolls (Orchard #35 on the Apple Hill map) is a beautiful spot on the Apple Hill tour. Massive flower gardens surround the apple and craft building. Everyone who enters receives a cored and spiral sliced apple free of charge — and they are the best darned apples I’ve ever tasted! This place is heaven if you enjoy flowers! You’ll also find bird houses, doll houses, yard display items, and many other fun things. I was quite saddened to learn that Felice passed away just three months ago in July. I express my sincere condolences to Bill. I hope you’ll find comfort in knowing how much happiness you both have given people over the years.
Boa Vista Orchards (Orchard #3 on the Apple Hill Map) is by far the largest grower. It is like going to a farmer’s market. On the weekends, they also provide a huge number of craft booths. While Boa Vista provides pretty much something for everyone, please don’t just stop there and think you’ve seen the totality of Apple Hill, because you will have missed some of the best parts of the experience. Sit back, enjoy the ride, soak in the sunshine, and truly make it a day to remember. Isn’t that what day trips are all about?
For more information about Apple Hill, see the Apple Hill Growers Association website. If you have children, you will definitely want to know in advance where the kid stuff is so that you can plan your attack on the hill. For those of us who are “kid free” (empty nest syndrome is a myth) and want a leisurely stroll through the orchards, I suggest attacking the hill on a weekday when the crowds are working and in school. One final note: If you are addicted to “Pink Lady” apples, you’ll want to wait until the end of October or the first of November to plan your day trip, as they aren’t ready until later.
AUTHOR RECEIVED NO COMPENSATION (OR FREE APPLES OR APPLE PRODUCTS) FOR WRITING THIS POST. ALL OPINIONS AND PHOTOS (SUCH AS THEY ARE) ARE MY OWN.