Apples, Autumn, and animals. Apple Hill is one of the most popular destinations for Fall and Halloween in Sacramento. With all the crowds during the Fall, people could use some Apple Hill tips for navigating their way around the orchards.
Every weekend in October, cars are backed up on Highway 50 all the way through Placerville on their way to the orchards and apple farms in Apple Hill.
While Apple Hill isn’t a secret to the locals in Sacramento, it’s one of many delightful Fall getaways in northern California that shouldn’t be missed. While many people enjoy the Fall colors, locals, tourists, families, and people of all ages come to eat apples and apple goodies, enjoy activities and crafts, and treat the kids to some early Halloween fun.
If you are like me, Apple Hill can be overwhelm you with the traffic and the crowds. However, here are a few Apple Hill tips to help you enjoy your time.
Tips to avoid the Apple Hill traffic and crowds
For a number of years, I have made an annual trip to Apple Hill and visited many of the orchards, farms, and most popular stops along the Apple Hill tour.
I’ve enjoyed days at Apple Hill in October where there were hardly any people at all – I had places High Hill Ranch and Apple Ridge Farms all to myself. I’ve also had days where I’ve had to sit in congested traffic, backed up for miles near Placerville, and waited in long lines just to find a parking spot turning a fun, family outing into an all day event.
While I am no expert on apples, I’ve learned a few Apple Hill secrets. Here are a few Apple Hill tips to save you time and money.
1. Visit on a weekday
While the parking lots are full and the roads are backed up on October weekends, many weekdays allow you to have Apple Hill all to yourself. You can enjoy the animals and nature trail at Apple Ridge Farms, the orchards at Denver Dan’s, and the lake and some fishing at High Hill Ranch.
Always check the dates and times of when these places will be open. However, if you visit Apple Hill on a weekday, this can save you a lot of time and help you avoid the traffic and the crowds.
2. Avoid the Carson Road and Camino exits
The busiest and most popular exits for Apple Hill are the left turns at Carson Road and Camino. These are the most convenient exits for Apple Hill as these roads are right in the middle of Apple Hill. Traffic can back up for miles on these two exits and actually bring traffic to a halt on Highway 50 between Placerville and Camino.
There are 3 exits that offer better driving, parking, and less traffic – exit 48 Schnell School Road, exit 54 for Cedar Grove, and exit 57 for Pollock Pines.
While the Cedar Grove exit is also popular when Carson Road and Camino get busy or are blocked off, Schnell School Road is the first stop in Apple Hill where you can take the shuttle and avoid the parking hassles. Exit 57 takes you to the very end of Apple Hill where you can start at the end and work your way back towards Apple Hill and popular stops like Apple Ridge Farm and Denver Dan’s – traffic free!
3. Go early in the morning
The earlier you arrive at Apple Hill, regardless of which exit you take, the fewer the crowds and less traffic. Arriving at 9 am will allow for plenty of parking even at the most popular Apple Hill destinations. Getting there at 10 am will also have fewer people. Arriving at noon in Apple Hill on an October weekend will mean lots of traffic and crowded parking lots.
4. Plan for popular stops like High Hill Ranch and Apple Ridge Farm
High Hill Ranch and Apple Ridge Farm are busy because they are popular. For many people who visit Apple Hill, these places are their first and only stops in Apple Hill. If you are going to visit one of the more popular Apple Hill spots, go early or really late in the day.
5. Visit less popular Apple Hill stops
Many may not even realize that there are over 40 orchards, farms, ranches, and wineries in Apple Hill. If you are planning a visit to Apple Hill, avoid some of the crowds by visiting one of the many other stops on the Apple Hill tour. Some have nature trails, food, and orchards where you can pick your own apples. You can also enjoy some wine tasting as well.
6. Visit Apple Hill more than once
I’ve learned that things don’t always go as planned. I’ve had my share of travel confessions which taught me a few things about myself. I’ve also learned that you probably can’t do everything that you want to do. So rather than trying to see all the stops on your Apple Hill list in one day, come back and visit on another day, weekend, or year.
7. Visit Apple Hill when it’s not October
Because of Halloween activities and Fall weather, October is the most popular time to visit Apple Hill. However, it isn’t the only time you can visit.
Late September is also a great time to visit as the weather is cooler and many places open daily starting Labor Day. After Halloween, some of the crowds disappear and you can visit Apple Hill through Thanksgiving as well. And there are plenty of Christmas Tree farms just in time for your holidays.
8. Save money and pack a lunch
Throughout Apple Hill, there are plenty of places to enjoy a picnic on a bench or at a table. While there is plenty of food available to eat like hamburgers, chicken, and tri-tip, save money by bringing food from home or stopping on the way before you get to Apple Hill. Lunch can be very expensive here so save your money for some apple goodies like caramel apples, apple doughnuts, apple pie and ice cream, apple pie, apple strudel, and more.
Apple Hill tips and information for Fall and Halloween
No matter what time of year you choose to go, there is plenty of information to help you plan your visit to Apple Hill. The Apple Hill Growers Association provides maps, a list of activities, places to eat, a list of all the Apple Hill stops, hours and information, and an events calendar so you can see all that is happening at Apple Hill.
If you love to visit Apple Hill for Halloween or just want a Fall getaway from Sacramento, this is a place the entire family can enjoy. Only next time, you don’t need to spend all that time in traffic or looking for a parking spot. Enjoy Apple Hill without the crowds any time of year!
Explore Sacramento! is a series that seeks to discover and explore the sites, sounds, communities, and things to do in Sacramento and northern California.