This article on u-pick farms across the country is brought to you by our friends at Gregory packs. A hiking day pack makes it easy to carry your farm finds, like fresh apples and homemade baked goods.
The fall season is an exciting and refreshing change of pace across the U.S., as temperatures drop, leaves change, and comfortable sweaters are unpacked in anticipation of cozy, chilly days. It’s also one of the tastiest times of the year, where homestyle comfort foods and recipes include the season’s top harvest: apples. Step into the season stomach-first at these u-pick farms.
A visit to charming family farms, historic orchards, and even the apple capital of the world is a great way to support local growers and experience “farm-to-fork” adventures. Many u-pick farms offer more than just picking produce. From corn mazes and hayrides to petting zoos and games, a host of activities await at these u-pick farms — not to mention camping, nearby.
U-Pick Farms, Fall Festivities, and Camping!
When planning a pick-your-own trip, make sure to check the orchard’s rules, hours, and what’s ripe for picking. Many orchards have a no-pet policy, so you might want to leave your fury friends at home.
While many orchards have implemented organic and natural growing processes, few are certified organic. If this is important to you, consider calling ahead to ask about their growing practices. It’s also a good idea to bring along a hiking day pack, bags, baskets, or boxes for your haul.
For a kid, picking apples seems like an autumn rite of passage. Make memories with a new fall family tradition with camping and picking apples, peaches, and pumpkins. Before you go, check out Gregory’s tips for fall camping with kids.
Stribling Orchard: Markham, VA
You can find Stribling Orchard deep in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, arguably some of the most beautiful autumn woods. This 200-year-old family-owned farm is one of America’s oldest orchards. This historic orchard was part of early colonial expansion West with the first 100 apple trees planted in the mid-1700’s. Although the original apple trees are no longer around, the fruit is as good as it’s ever been! Currently, the farm boasts 2,500 apple trees and 800 peach trees, staying in season until early November. This u-pick farm has gone through various upgrades throughout the years, shifting from commercial production to pick-your-own.
Their Harvest House on the property offers tasty treats like farm-fresh eggs, honey, jams, jellies, local cheeses, and fresh baked goods.
The region is rich with orchards and wineries to visit during your stay. You can even take a quick trip an hour east to Washington, D.C. if you want to throw a city adventure into the mix. There are plenty of options for camping near Markham, which is located near the northern end of Shenandoah National Park.
Big Meadows campground is a favorite among The Dyrt campers. This campground has a variety of amenities including a lodge that serves hot meals, a gas station, and hot showers. Located on the Skyline Drive, it also has a great location for scenic drives and hiking.
The Dyrt Camper, Derek E. says, “Many campers hiked right out of their sites on to the Appalachian Trail which seemed awesome, but there are also more than 20 great hiking trips within a drive of less than 20 minutes either North or South on Skyline Drive.”
Sky Top Orchard: Flat Rock, North Carolina
Located south of the Pisgah National Forest sitting atop Mount McAlpine, Sky Top Orchard offers some of the most scenic apple picking on the East Coast. This u-pick farm boasts over 22 varieties, including dessert and baking favorites like Mutsu and Honeycrisp. They also have other fruits like cherries, and grapes.
This orchard offers a variety of other activities beyond fruit picking. Visitors can hike in the bamboo forest and enjoy a picnic at one of the picnic pavilions. Explore the 100-acre farm and enjoy hayrides and the large playground. Young ones will love feeding the ducks and visiting the barnyard of turkeys, chickens, goats, and sheep. Don’t forget to grab a glass of fresh apple cider and a dozen of their famous apple cider donuts — you won’t be able to have just one!
Sky Top Orchard is the prime apple picking destination for camping in Appalachia. Explore the Pisgah National Forest or drive just over an hour to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In the nearby town of Hendersonville, check out their specialty museums! Fly high at the Western North Carolina Air Museum or try to beat the high score at the Appalachian Pinball Museum.
If you would like some fresh-caught trout along with your fresh-picked apples, then head on over to Davidson River Campground. This Blue Ridge Parkway campground offers great fishing, waterfall hikes galore, and easy access to mountain biking trails.
The Dyrt Ranger and avid cyclist, Travis S. says, “this campground is perfectly set for all adventures. If you’re looking to see the sights of the forest and take a drive the scenic parkway then you’ve come to the right campground. On the other hand, if you’re thinking of riding the mountain bike trails you’re in luck. They start literally across the Davidson River from the campground.”
Dwight Miller Orchards: Dummerston, Vermont
Dwight Miller Orchards is an eighth-generation family owned and operated farm. The Miller family has been growing apples, peaches, and blueberries since before the Civil War! Over 20 years ago, they made the switch to growing certified organic apples.
They offer pick-your-own fruit as well as already-picked produce at their farm stand that is open year-round. Their retail store offers small-batch jams, jellies, farm-fresh eggs, maple syrup, organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, homemade pickles, and their own pasture-raised pork and beef.
The family is not just apple aficionados. They also make their own brand of fresh pressed sweet apple cider and organic maple syrup from their 8,000 taps in their maple woods.
Nearby is Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests — Vermont’s and New York’s only National Forests. Visit Hildene, the Lincoln family home, which is located within the National Forests. Visit the homes of past presidents and historical sites like the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park — the only national park dedicated to the conservation of history and evolution of land stewardship in America.
Camp in Vermont and explore the heritage of our country. A favorite campground among The Dyrt campers is Jamaica State Park. The Dyrt camper Jaime R. calls the state park a “little slice of Vermont paradise.” She writes, “The sites are great and well cared for with friendly staff and clean amenities…Hike the scenic trail and take a right upward to Hamilton Falls, a gorgeous waterfall!!”
Gould Hill Farm: Contoocook, New Hampshire
With views only rivaled by the variety of apples on this u-pick farm, visitors can see 75 miles out while discovering over 80 apple varieties on this New England u-pick orchard. This serene hillside orchard is a prime location to take in the colorful fall foliage on the surrounding White Mountains.
Gould Hill has been continuously farmed since the mid-1700’s and has a rich history. The farm store is actually a renovated post and beam barn that was originally built in 1810. Behind the farmhouse, you will find the “Gramma Baldwin” tree. This apple tree is over 200 years old and one of New Hampshire’s oldest fruit bearing trees.
The farm has semi-dwarf trees that make it a great option for apple-picking with the whole family. They also have live music, a pumpkin patch, a nature museum, hard cider made on-site, and a farm store with an on-site bakery that makes fresh apple cider donuts.
Visit the Contoocook Railroad Museum which is the home of the oldest surviving covered railroad bridge in the world! Take a drive north to camp in White Mountain National Forest and celebrate the National Forest’s 100th birthday. This national forest is home to 23 campgrounds and 1,200 miles of hiking trails – including 160 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
If you’re looking for the perfect fall spot to pitch your tent, then check out Mt. Ascutney State Park campground. The Dyrt Camper Harry H. believes this campground is ideal for hiking historic trails and enjoying colorful fall foliage saying, “Go in early-mid October to enjoy the fall colors and to find more peace and quiet.”
Hood River Fruit Loop: Hood River, Oregon
Located in the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River Valley is a Pacific Northwest gem with its stunning views of Mount Hood. The Hood River Fruit Loop is not a solitary orchard, but instead a 35-mile scenic trail encompassing a variety of orchards, lavender and berry farms, alpaca ranches, breweries, and wineries.
Nearly 30 stands offer visitors a variety of produce, flowers, ciders, wines, and baked goods. Explore pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hiking trails, museums, and charming cottages along The Fruit Loop.
The Columbia River Gorge offers a wide variety of outdoor activities from windsurfing to hiking to rock climbing. Channel your inner Cheryl Strayed by visiting the nearby Bridge of the Gods or checking out one of these Columbia River Gorge hikes.
Oregon is often considered a mecca for camping and outdoor recreation, so it’s no surprise that the Hood River Valley has ample camping opportunities. Campers have easy access and endless options in Mt. Hood National Forest and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, where dispersed camping is free, unless otherwise noted.
Across the river in Washington you’ll find Goose Lake campground. The Dyrt Camper Natalie B. says, “Goose Lake is one of my favorite places to camp. It is a smaller campground and pretty secluded, so it’s nice and quiet/private. The lake itself is beautiful – motorized boats aren’t allowed so it’s nice and quiet. Last year we brought our paddle boards and had a great time on the water.”
Green Bluff Apple Festival: Spokane, Washington
Similar to The Hood River Fruit Loop, Green Bluff is a community of family farms and fruit stands. Located at the foot of Mt. Spokane, this association of growers was formed in 1902 and helps local farmers with agriculture tourism. This small area boasts a high concentration of farms – over 30 in 12 square miles – with an old fashion u-pick farm experience.
The Green Bluff Apple Festival offers live music (including polka), antiques, breweries, craft booths, face painting, corn and hay bale mazes, hayrides, pony rides, petting zoos, and of course all things apple! Don’t forget to stop into Beck’s Harvest House for one of their World Famous Pumpkin Donuts™.
Spokane is located on the Washington/Idaho border and offers a variety of camping opportunities. A local favorite is Riverside State Park which is home to the landmark Bowl and Pitcher — an impressive basalt rock feature in the Spokane River. Hike the many trails and take a trip across the swinging bridge for and up-close-and-personal look at the Bowl and Pitcher. The Dyrt Camper Jen B. writes, “Beautiful state park with great hiking trails! Great location by the river. The campsite is beautiful year round.”
If you are looking to get out of the city, head north to camp in the mountains, west for Lake Pend Oreille and Lake Coeur d’Alene, and east for sagebrush grasslands. Bring your bike because there are plenty of opportunities for mountain biking near Spokane.
The Apple Capital of the World: Wenatchee, Washington
No orchard list would be complete without including Wenatchee, Washington — the Apple Capital of the World. According to the Washington Apple Commission, “Washington Apple growers produce 6 out of every 10 apples consumed in the United States.”
The town of Wenatchee, Washington is nestled in the Central Cascades Mountains. A combination of rich volcanic soils and the Columbia River Irrigation Project transformed the arid landscape to Apple Capital of the World. The valley is home to more than 170,000 acres of orchards.
Camp near Wenatchee to make the most of your stay in the Apple Capital. There are a variety of orchards and wineries to visit in the valley. Visitor’s can take a leisurely afternoon stroll along the mighty Columbia River along the Apple Capital Loop Trail.
Take a trip to a mountain lake and set up camp at Lake Wenatchee State Park. The Dyrt Camper, Susan L. loves the cold mountain-fresh water and central location of this campground saying, “The campground is divided into two parts by a crisp clear and cold Wenatchee River, flowing out of Lake Wenatchee. The deep lake is glacier-fed and the campgrounds are well-loved by locals. Nearby ‘Enchantments’ hikes are more challenging and spectacular.”
- Fort Spokane Campground, Miles, WA