Things get so busy in October in the Apple Hill region of El Dorado County that shuttle buses are put into play. But from Labor Day weekend until the calendar page turns, you’ll enjoy the bounty without the crowds at 56 family-owned “ranches” between Placerville and Pollock Pines. Apple Hill growers specialize in farm-fresh produce and baked goods, and many court families with attractions ranging from miniature train rides and trout-stocked ponds to petting zoos and pumpkin patches. Leashed pets are welcome on most properties, though it’s always good to call ahead and ask.
Among the most dog-friendly of Apple Hill ranches is El Dorado Orchards, open Fridays-Sundays September through November and offering rides on the Apple Ridge Express miniature train along with barbecue, desserts, caramel apples, apple cider, fudge, preserves, pumpkins and more. Nearby Boa Vista Farms, open daily year-round, stages weekend craft fairs starting Sept. 3, the start of apple harvest season.
At Pine O Mine, leashed dogs are welcome in the you-pick berry and apple orchards as well as the pumpkin patch, while at Denver Dan’s Apple Patch, Rover can accompany you inside the produce barn as well as on the grounds. Kids Inc. and High Hill Ranch are two more places that welcome well behaved canines and offer a broad array of family-friendly activities. And that’s just the tip of the apple stem, so to speak. For downloadable maps, a calendar of events and links to farms, click here.