Just a short drive from Applewood Manor, a mere 25 miles, are the stunning orchards and farms of Apple Valley. And most welcome visitors, offer tours and even let you pick your own apples right off the tree. Over 40 varieties are grown in the Ashville mountains including some that guest of the Manor should recognize including Winesap, Granny Smith, and Cortland. Not many people realize that North Carolina is the seventh largest apple-producing state.
Different varieties ripen at different times lengthening blossoming and harvesting times. Harvesting begins in early August and runs through October and as the apple season wanes the farms extend visiting times with pumpkins, gourds, and other fall produce. Most farms are open daily from August through November with some as early as June and as late as Christmas. Grandad’s Apple farm is an example of those in the valley. It is located two miles from I-26 on US Highway 64 also known as Chimney Rock Rd. Once there, you can walk into the orchard and pick your own or just load up from the enormous selections of already picked apples. The fun does not stop there. Grandad’s Barn and Country Store is full of fall harvest decorations, apple peelers, apple bakers and other apple gifts. You can enjoy turnovers, fried pies, apple bread, caramel apples, ice cream, cider and the list goes on.
At Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard (221 Stepp Orchard Dr., Hendersonville, NC) visitors can take a ride on the farm wagon on weekends through acres of orchard and Farmer Stepp’s pumpkin patch. Stepp’s is another opportunity to enjoy great apple products including fresh apple cider with a doughnut in the picnic area. Lyda Farms located at 3465 Chimney Rock Rd. in Hendersonville welcomes visitors from June through-November. Sky Top Orchard at 1193 Pinnancle Rd, Flat Rock is open August through mid-December. The farm sits atop Mt. McAlpine with panoramic mountain views, their 100-acre farm is a family fall tradition for area residence with wagon rides, bamboo forest, farm animals, and famous freshly made apple cider donuts! And, of course, apples on and off-the tree. Barber Orchards at 2855 Old Balsam Rd, Waynesville is open August-Christmas Eve. Their bakery is a local favorite especially known for their apple turnovers, fritters, pies and more.
While not exactly an apple farm, Hickory Nut Gap Farm is a fun stop and it’s right on the way between Asheville and Chimney Rock and it is open every day-year-round. Visitors get to see animals raised in their natural outdoor environment—goats at play, pigs in the woods, chickens laying eggs, and cows grazing in pastures. Stop by their Farm Store for local honey, jams, and fresh farm products. Directions from Asheville: I-240 East, exit towards 74-A East, Bat Cave and Chimney Rock. Follow 74-A approximately 9 miles. Turn left on Sugar Hollow Rd.
Apple Ripening: Early August: Ginger Gold, Zestar; Mid-August: Gala, Swiss Gourmet; Late August: Honeycrisp, Golden Supreme, Ruben, Tsugaru, Early Fuji’ Early September: Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Shuzuka; Mid-September: Cortland, Jonaprince, Mutsu, Fuji, Blushing Gold, Jonathan, Ultra Gold; Late September: Cameo, Red Rome, Stayman, Winesap, Crimson Crisp, Taylor Rome; Early October: Granny Smith, Winecrisp, York; Mid October: Arkansas Black, Braeburn, Pink Lady, Gold Rush, Nittany, Evercrisp.