While parts of El Dorado County were impacted by the Caldor Fire in August and September, the Apple Hill Growers region north of Placerville (about 45 minutes from Sacramento on Highway 50) was spared. It’s 50-odd member farms, wineries and other establishments (almost all of them dog-friendly) kicked off the 2021 season in early September with regional events, individual grower events, kids’ activities and pumpkin patches galore.
Apples are the stars, of course, with dozens of varieties along with every conceivable apple-based product, from pies to donuts to hard and soft cider, available for enjoying. Some farms offer “u-pick” options for apples, berries and other produce (including pumpkins, of course). Before you go, consult a map (paper versions are available at retail outlets throughout the region) and plot a route. You’ll find more establishments open on weekends than during the week, but don’t be discouraged; you can’t visit them all, anyway! (Word to the wise: the region’s rural roads can get backed up on weekends, so go midweek if you can).
Among our favorite dog-friendly venues is Rainbow Orchards, which produces pears, citrus, blueberries and other fruit and is famous for its bake shop showcasing apple pie and apple-cider donuts and has a large, dog-friendly picnic area. Larsen Apple Barn, oldest family-owned farm in the region, is another favorite, offering an array of more than 20 varieties of apples along with pears, grapes, dried fruits, juices, bake shop and more. Chow down on a turnover as you stroll through the property’s grassy park with water features, gnarly old trees (perfect for photo props) and other attractions. High Hill Ranch adds barbecue to the equation, while Delfino Farms (formerly Kids Incorporated) has it all, from apple orchards to pie shop and restaurant to corn maze, pumpkin patch, Christmas trees, gourds, farm animals, nature trail and an acre of lawn.
When it comes to dog-friendly wineries, many DogTrekkers count Boeger and Lava Cap among their favorites. Both are not far off Highway 50 and feature great views and landscaping (along with good wines, of course).
For the complete run-down on Apple Hill activities, services and lodging, click here.