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, Camino 95709.
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
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|Title Annotation:||apple orchards|
|Date:||Oct 1, 1984|
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