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Orchard Pickings

Apple tree, Los Rios Orchard, Oak Glen Rd. (11/11/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Visiting orchards has become a late-autumn tradition, with Californians heading to Julian for apple dumplings, to Oak Glen for cider-infused mini donuts, to San Luis Obispo for hard cider, to Sebastopol for U-pick apples, to Kelseyville in Lake County for a Pear Belle Helene (pear ice cream sundae), and to Apple Hill in Camino for apple pies.

With so many calories ahead, Southern California color spotter Ravi Ranganathan recommends walking the Oak Glen Preserve Botanical Garden in Yucaipa, soon after the trail opens at 8 a.m. It’s  got kid-friendly sections, as well as others that get your heart pumping and “beautiful fall colors along the trail.”

Of course, if that hike works up your appetite, head over to Snow Line Orchard for their delicious apple-cider-infused mini donuts and a glass of freshly pressed cider. Ravi recommends picnicking under an ancient chestnut tree beside an apple orchard. 

  • Julian – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Oak Glen – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • San Luis Obispo – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Sebastopol – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Kelseyville – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Camino – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
Chestnut and apple orchard, Snow Line Orchard, Oak Glen Rd (11/11/18) Ravi Ranganathan
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Apple Harvest

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

As American as … Apple Hill, Julian and Oak Glen.

These California apple harvest destinations are famous for their cider, pie, strudels, confections and sauce, all made of apples, of course.

Even though the apple pie was invented in England, the following prove that nothing could be truer than the expression “as American as apple pie:”

  • In El Dorado County, Apple Hill is so popular that a free shuttle bus system has been established to keep the roads in Camino from becoming gridlocked on autumn weekends;
  • Ten restaurants serve apple pie in Julian, a city of 1,500 (San Diego County) and
  • Twenty-four varieties of apples are grown and sold at Oak Glen (San Bernardino County).

That’s just the start of why autumn adventures in apple country has become such a tradition for Californians. Presently, fall color is Just Starting, though the apple harvest is happening, and Americans LOVE their apples.

San Bernardino County color spotter Alena Nicholas was there, today, and sent these images, but no apple pie. C’mon, Alena, share the love. 

  • Apple Hill, Camino (3,133′) – Just Starting (10-50%)
  • Oak Glen (4,734′) – Just Starting (10-50%)
  • Julian (4,226′) – Just Starting (10-50%)

 

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

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Apple Hill – Ripe for Picking

Apple Hill (10/12/17) John Poimiroo

A detour on my return from Lake Tahoe, yesterday, included a stop at Apple Hill in Camino to take photos and – what else!? – buy an apple pie.

Newtown Rd., Placerville (10/12/17) John Poimiroo

Bigleaf maple (10/12/17) John Poimiroo

My route took me through Pleasant Valley (great wine tasting) down Newtown Rd. toward Placerville, US 50 and Camino.

Newtown is a lovely, winding road canopied by huge black oak and bigleaf maple, that now are speckled with huge bright yellow and lime-colored maple leaves.

At Camino, apples lay rotting between the trees at Boa Vista Orchards, as kids romped through a nearby pumpkin patch.

Similar to the experience at Julian in San Diego County, Apple Hill is more than a place to grow apples.

It is an annual harvest festival that continues from late summer to Christmas, with all kinds of homemade preserves, pies, baked goods, fresh fruit and produce on sale, along with handmade crafts and wine tasting at nearby Sierra Foothill wineries.

At this time of year, Apple Hill is wholesome fun and ripe for picking.

Apple Hill, Camino (3,133′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Newtown Road, Pleasant Valley – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) GO NOW!

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Apple of my Eye

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

A sojourn to Apple Hill today found vineyards Near Peak, but orchards mostly patchy.  Some apples remain to be picked, though many are off the trees.

Because of the range of fall color to be seen, we’ll rate Apple Hill as Near Peak, though expect black oak to be Just Starting, other trees to be Patchy and still others Peaking.

Apple Hill is a harvest destination in the Sierra foothills near Placerville, 50 miles east of Sacramento. Numerous farm stands sell apples, fresh-pressed chilled cider, apple baked goods, preserves and folk crafts.

On weekends, all of the farms are open. Some have live bands and amusements. Midweek, a smaller selection of farm stands remain open. Additionally, several excellent wineries are located along a network of El Dorado County Farm Trails, among them are: Boeger, Lava Cap, Madrona and Grace Patriot.

Nearby is the historic town of Placerville. A must stop is Placerville Hardware, the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi.  It has been in operation for over 160 years. The store’s shelves are stacked high with things you never realize you needed until you visit.  Ask the clerk to show you the coin slot cut into the wooden counter where gold miners would pay for their shovels and pans with gold and coins.

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Apple Hill

Boeger Winery, Placerville (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boeger Winery, Placerville (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boeger Winery, Placerville (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boeger Winery, Placerville (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Persimmon, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Persimmon, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Orchard, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Orchard, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

JP-AppleHill-9

Toyon [AKA California Holly, Christmas Berry] (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boa Vista Farms, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boa Vista Farms, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boa Vista Farms, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

Boa Vista Farms, Apple Hill (11/5/15) John Poimiroo

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Apple Hill Ripe For Picking

Apple Hill, Camino (11/2/15) Brian Patterson

Apple Hill, Camino (11/2/15) Brian Patterson

El Dorado County color spotter Brian Patterson posted this shot of vineyards at Apple Hill in Camino on our Facebook page.

Previously, Apple Hill color spotter Eileen Javora, a meteorologist at Sacramento’s KCRA-TV3, had tweeted about reds and golds appearing in the vineyards and orchards near the Boeger Winery in Placerville.

Looks like I’ll just have to head up the hill to do some wine tasting… uh, er, I mean to confirm Eileen and Brian’s observations.

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Apple Hill, Placerville, El Dorado County 

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Beauty Before The Storm

Chinese pistache (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Chinese pistache (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Northern California is braced for its first major storm of the coming winter. So, I took camera in hand this morning to photograph the exotic trees in my yard that are near peaking, to capture their beauty before the storm.

Chinese pistache (pistacia chinensis) is a slow-growing ornamental tree from China whose foliage turns day-glo orange to red with tones of yellow and green. Yesterday, I mentioned on Twitter that pistache have naturalized in Placerville.

Traveling through there on the way to Apple Hill, you see bright red balls of color at all of Placerville’s highway offramp areas.  It is evident that many of these pistache trees are volunteers that are now populating forests in and around Placerville, in the same way exotic pink flowering oleander are doing beside the Sacramento River between Redding and Shasta Dam.

Eastern Redbud (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Eastern Redbud (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Eastern redbud (cercis canadensis) are the fastest growing of redbuds and get 25 to 35 feet in height, according to the Sunset Western Garden Book.  We get many compliments about our redbud in all seasons, though particularly enjoy it now, when its large heart-shaped leaves turn yellow and are mixed with lime-colored brethren.

Red Oak (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Red Oak (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Red oak (quercus rubra) is native to the east U.S.  It’s a handsome tree in summer, magnificent in autumn, then carries brown leaves through winter.  This is lovely with a dusting of snow, though it’s not my favorite winter coat on an oak.

Strawberry Tree (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Strawberry Tree (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

The Strawberry Tree (arbutus menziesii) is a madrone whose autumn branches dangle with brilliant orange to red berries. They’re delicious to the eye only.

El Dorado Hills (Near Peak – 50-75%) – Gardens and landscaped boulevards are near peak at 1,000 feet in the western Sierra foothills. GO NOW!

Apple Hill (Near Peak – 50-75%) – Apple orchards and vineyards surrounding Camino are full of golden, orange and brown color. GO NOW!

Placerville (Peak – 75-100%) – Exotic Chinese pistache are brightly crimson along US 50. GO NOW!