Thursday, September 25, 2014

APPLE PICKING: Los Angeles and Orange Counties

Lately, I have seen so many delicious fall apple recipes on Pinterest that I have been dying to try some out.  That got me thinking.  Why not make a day of it and pick our own apples and make the desserts even more special?  

I have compiled a list of local apple orchards that encourage visitors to come experience apple picking for themselves.

Apple Starr Orchard1287 Julian Orchards Drive
Julian, CA 92036
(760) 765-2431

You can pick a peck of pickled peppers, but did you know you can pick a peck of apples too? According to Apple Starr Orchard, a peck is 12 pounds and you can fill your bag with u-pick apples or pears. Apple Starr even has wagons to help you with your load. Some of the apples here have fancy names like Arkansas Black and Wealthy, and there are five varieties of pears to choose from as well, including both red and green Bartlett pears. A “newer” farm established in 1982, Apple Starr is 100 percent organic and a little-known secret as the location is at the very end of Julian Orchards Drive.
Los Rios Rancho39611 Oak Glen Road
Oak Glen, CA 92399
(909) 797-1005

This farm’s motto is “where history is made every day,” and although what that history is depends on who is making it and how, visitors will at least have the chance to conjure up more than a few memories while picking apples from this active outpost that also offers activities for the entire family. Along with choosing from amongst a variety of about two dozen kinds of apples, guests will also have access to hay rides and the chance to learn some of the crafts that were part of life in the Old West, like tin smithing, candle making and leather crafting. As for your apple-oriented foray, there’s a tour that includes taking in the farm’s 1906 barn where you’ll pack apples on the line as you work alongside Johnny Appleseed and then walk with this iconic characters through the lovely orchards of Los Rios Rancho.

Parrish Pioneer Ranch38561 Oak Glen Road
Yucaipa, CA 92399
(909) 797-1753

A clear choice for apple picking not far from Los Angeles is Parrish Pioneer Ranch, offering these fruity delights since 1867. By way of background, it took four mules and a wooden wagon for Enoch Kidder Parrish to buy these fine acres, 160 in all. By working the earth, he came up with what is now the premier spot to pick from Rome Beauty Trees that take over the sprawling premises. Also on offer at the farm store is apple butter, syrups and, of course, cider. While there, be sure to book a table at the Apple Dumplin restaurant on the site for some hearty farm fare unrivaled in the City of Angels.

Riley’s Farm Fort Crossing
12261 S. Oak Glen Road
Oak Glen, CA 92399
(909) 790-TIME (8463)

Some 100 varieties from trees that have aged up to 100 years are waiting at Riley’s Farm. However, the specialization here is reserved for this grower’s heirloom apples. The 2013 crop on offer features the best in Royal Galas and Gravensteins, all ready to be plucked from the trees after checking in at the Barn General Store on the premises to get instructions on how to do so. After your outing, be sure to head over to the on-farm bakery for a fresh, double-crust apple pie or a crumb-crust apple pie to go with your apple bounty. Not looking for something sweet? Try the out-of-this-world chicken pot pie, ready and waiting after placing your order the day before you head out for your outing at Riley’s.

Snow-Line Orchard
39400 Oak Glen Road
Yucaipa, CA 92399
(909) 797-3415

Apples galore are available at this expansive Yucaipa outpost, but you may have to leave the actual picking to the management. Still, there are plenty of varieties from which to choose, from MacIntosh, Mutsu and Red Delicious to Northern Spy, Winter Banana and Pippin. Indeed, this is only a small selection of the crispy fruit on hand and ready to grab at Snow-Line. Imbibe along with an array of apple cider, a traditional fall drink that has been reinvented by being mixed with raspberries and cherries also grown on the premises. Not interested? Regular apple cider is on offer too, as are mini-donuts that some say are to die for.

Stetson Creek RanchP.O. Box 192
Angelus Oaks, CA 92304
(909) 389-9410

A remote ranch located past Angelus Oaks in the beautiful San Bernadino mountains, Stetson Creek Ranch is a 100-year-old farm that is 100 percent organic. If you enjoy baking or cooking with fresh apples, Stetson Creek Ranch has Rome apples, a popular American cooking apple because it keeps its shape. If munching on a fresh, tasty apple is what you’re after, Stetson also has delicious red McIntosh apples for you to enjoy – refreshingly sweet and crisp. Stop by on your way to Big Bear – but as this is a working farm, leave your dog at home.

Willowbrook Apple Farm 
12099 S. Oak Glen Road
Oak Glen, CA 92399
(909) 797-9484

This century-old apple orchard run by the Swanson family gives you the chance soak up the countryside in an ambiance that comes right out of “Little House on the Prairie” — babbling brook, barn and all. Once on the premises, you’ll get the opportunity to choose Stayman Winesap apples as well as make your own cider the old-fashioned way by using an antique press. You’ll also learn that it takes 20 pounds of apples to make a gallon of cider.


  1. We've always wanted to do this. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have not taken my son apple picking yet I'm sure he would love to go.

  3. I haven't gone apple picking so long! Love apples!


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