NOTE: For an updated 2007 Apple Hill Guide, click here. (Don’t worry, it’s not link to another website.)
Fall is in the air, and on the calendar, and in the malls, but nowhere more omnipresent than up highway 50 at Apple Hill. I’ve had a few shocks in my life, including that time when I missed two straight periods (turned out to just be work stress), but none more jarring that finding out that several good friends and close acquaintances had never been to Apple Hill. Hating to think that those unfamiliar with the joys of the hill might not want to venture east because of the alien nature of the trip, I’ve concocted my own little visitor’s guide. The following are just suggestions, mind you, and please feel free to let me know if there is anything that I missed, but more than anything, I provide this little guide because I don’t want to hear anyone say that they didn’t head up the hill this year because they “didn’t know where to go, what to do, my kids were sick, I had a flesh eating virus, I’m a big puss-puss, etc.”
Heading up to Apple Hill is easy: Get in your car, get on Hwy 50, pretend you’re going to Tahoe, follow the signs. Best time to visit is between 9AM and 5PM. Takes about 45 min to get there from downtown. Once you get to the general vicinity, you’ll start to notice a lot of barns and kids and ponies. Stop in at any one of the Apple Hill orchards (usually identified by a spiffy number on its sign) and pick up a map. An apple hill map is invaluable in exploring the great cider belt. With a map you’ll be able to find the following places:
Rainbow Orchards: Apple cider doughnuts, best damn doughnuts you will ever have. Don’t stay there too long, just go for the doughnuts. Yes, I refuse to spell it “donuts.”
Kids Inc.: Best pies on the hill, fresh or frozen, grab a “walking pie” with cider sauce while you’re browsing.
Boa Vista: Open year round, a great market with everything that you never knew could be jellied, pickled or turned into a hot sauce. Fun to browse and easy to pick up all your foodstuffs.
High Hill: This is the one you remember from your childhood, fishing pond, huge cider press, big gift shop, pony rides and the obligatory obnoxious craft fair.
Grandpa’s Cellar: This is also one you may remember from your childhood, but only if your childhood included court dates and restraining orders. Hey, if you’re ready to take on your psychological demons, then I’m right there with you. If you do, however, choose to venture into “Mistress Ethel’s Apple Dungeon,” you’re on your own.
Abel’s Acres: Try Abel’s apples, they have mysterious powers.