Furlough Fridays: Apple Hill

Fall is the time for the Sierra Foothills to shine. Get on the right road, and you will see foliage that can rival New England. As you head up Highway 50, signs of the first snow cap the Sierras.

And while the time to pick your carving pumpkin has come and gone, November is still a great time to hit Apple Hill. The air is a little crisper, but the crowds are a lot smaller. And more than 20 ranches are still open, long after the Halloween weekend warriors have come and gone.

Apple Hill isn’t an actual geographic location. It is a name given to the 56 ranches just East of Placerville in and around the town of Camino. The ranches are open for everything from pony rides to apple picking, not to mention pie.

A day in Apple Hill has something for everyone. Let the family run wild Kids Incorporated, where they can feed apples that have fallen from the trees to the pigs and goats located just beyond the orchard itself.

The Apple Hill area is also home to some great foothills winery. Last weekend, after a brisk fall morning, the temperature got up to T-shirt weather as families picknicked on the grounds of the Boeger winery, sipping a bottle of estate-bottled Zinfandel.

Be sure to put Lava Cap, Stone’s Throw, Jodar Vineyards and Coulson Winery. and Fenton Herriott Vineyards on your tasting tour as well.

And did we mention pie?

We’re sure everybody’s got their favorite spot for baked goods, and it’s hard to go wrong. We’re partial to Kids Inc’s Walking Pie, with the cider sauce and a warm cup of fresh-pressed cider to boot.

For those looking for a bit more luxurious get-away, there’s the Time Out Resort and Day Spa. Nestled discretely in the beautiful Sierra Foothills, cradled in privacy by colorful gardens and apple orchards, the spa advertises itself as “the ideal sanctuary for rest, relaxation, and self-renewal.”

Who are we to disagree?

Many ranches are open Fridays up through early December. And when the apples are gone, you can hit up one of the area’s Christmas Tree farms.

A full list of Apple Hill attractions, and ranch hours, can be found at

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