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Apple Hill a cornucopia of fall and early winter fun in El Dorado County

By: Ken Larson, Folsom Lake Entertainer
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Enjoying a cool, crisp day in the foothills filled with great food, activities and old-fashioned family fun is what people have come to expect in Apple Hill. Now that the crowds have come and gone, November and December are actually the best months to enjoy a day in Apple Hill.

As the Christmas holidays approach, many people even couple the day with getting a Christmas tree and also enjoy the unique experiences at the 55 Apple Hill ranches. In addition to farm fresh produce and baked goods, you’ll find fun for the whole family.

Located north of Highway 50 between Placerville and Pollock Pines, only 45 minutes west of Folsom Lake, guests are reminded that Exits 48 or 54 are ideal for getting to Apple Hill. There are still many things to see and enjoy like a fishing pond, pony rides, hay maze, nature trails, museum, handmade crafts (ideal for Christmas shopping for those hard to buy-for people on your list).

Apples continue to ripen and a variety of pies are still available to sample as the bakeshops create holiday pies, while the cider mills, wineries and the brewery prepare libations for upcoming holiday feasts.

Still need convincing this is the place to enjoy this November? Consider these using the on-line information guide to Apple Hill, click on applehill.com and use the numbers as guides for planning your trip.

Got Kids?

Time to treat the kids or grandkids to a day out. Check out No. 5 El Dorado Orchards, and No. 19 and Apple Ridge Farms  No. 20 have kid-oriented activities to show the younger crowd how it was in the days before electronic toys! And don’t forget to treat everyone to a donut from Rainbow Orchards.

Off the Beaten Path

Want to go for a drive with beautiful scenery and a slower pace? Upper Apple Hill Ranches Hangtown Kid Apple Orchard No. 15, Patrick’s Mountain Grown Berries No. 16, Grandpa’s Cellar No. 17, O’Halloran’s Apple Trail Ranch No. 18, Mill View Ranch No. 23, Bill’s Apples/Felice’s Dolls No. 35, and Bodhaine Ranch No. 68 offer “you pick” ranches, baked goods, crafters and gorgeous flowers in a stress-free atmosphere.

Fall Fest

Eat a sausage while watching the geese and the donkeys at Smokey Ridge Ranch and Charcuterie No. 133, have some strudel at Bavarian Hills No. 11, find the perfect jack-o-lantern at Cardanini’s Pumpkin Patch No. 42 and finish the day with a beer at Jack Russell Farm Brewery No. 36. If you can’t make it to the Apple Hill Ranches you can find juice from Barsotti Family Juice Company No. 30 year round at many supermarkets.

Christmas is Coming ...

And it is time to cut the tree. The ideal one for your family is at the Apple Hill® Tree Farms. Marvin Larsen Ranch #49, Hillside Tree Farm #82, McGee Christmas Tree Farm #83, Roberts Christmas Tree Farm #87 & 88, Crystal Creek Tree Farm #89 and Rapetti Farms #90 have the fir that will make your holidays sparkle.

One-Stop Shopping

Looking for crafts AND pies AND apples AND Kid Activities? Abel’s Apple Acres #38, Boa Vista Orchards #3 and High Hill Ranch #1 have more of everything and are located within sight of Highway 50.

Looking for Organic?

Check out Thomas Mountain Organic Farm #13 (no roadside sales), Willow Pond Organic Farm #34 and Goodness Orchard #48 for all-natural fruits and veggies.

History Lesson

Larsen Apple Barn #9 is one of the original 16 ranches, and home of the oldest apple tree in the area. Check out their two water wheels and their Farm Museum. Need another classic car fix? Apple Pantry Farm/ Hidden Valley Orchards #37 has Model As to look at while you sample pie.

Couples Date

There is romance in the air at the Apple Hill® Wineries... Madroña Vineyards #6, ParaVí Vineyards #12, Wofford Acres Vineyards #25, Lava Cap Winery #26, Boeger Winery #32, Fenton Herriott Vineyards #50 and Grace Patriot Wines #55 invite you to visit with your sweetheart all year long. Spring is a great time to taste new releases.