Apple Hill: a hidden gem in the Sierra Nevada


Christmas festivities in Placerville. Photo credit: Matthew Manfredi

Matthew Manfredi

We’re lucky to live in a corner of California where a few hours in a car can lead to exceptional places.

In any direction, we can suddenly be on the coast, walking around a richly diverse city or getting lost in a vast redwood forest. However, it’s sometimes the little places along the way that make the trip even more memorable.

On the way to South Lake Tahoe, before the Sierra Nevada mountain range begins its steady ascent to the snow line, Apple Hill is a stop that embraces every bit of the Christmas season.

Apple farms and orchards are spread out among the foothills that follow Placerville just before climbing up Highway 50. In between the dozens of wineries and endless Christmas tree farms, the days after Thanksgiving are flooded with freshly pressed apple cider, homemade pies and decorative wreaths in every shade of green.

Apple Hill roots back to 1951 when a rancher started a small orchard on a 10-acre piece of land near the town of Camino, only a few miles up the highway from Placerville. Soon after, more people did the same and came together to start the Apple Hill Growers association, expanding into the agricultural community it is today.

Nearly 70 years later, Apple Hill is truly one of the hidden gems of California agrarian culture. Year around, nearly 30 farms and orchards are filled with the traditions of El Dorado County, producing not just apples, but quality fruit ranging from peaches to pears.

The widely desired treat of the region has become the apple doughnut, which is sold at many of the Apple Hill locations. High Hill, probably the most popular location, usually has a line with dozens of people all looking for a bite of this unique treat.

After exiting Highway 50, the festive feeling of the holiday season lingers in the air. The smell of cinnamon and cider surrounds the plotted land located only a few miles away from the urban sprawl.

To get into the holiday spirit and get away from campus before finals week sets in, take a trip to Apple Hill to experience the Christmas season in full bloom.

[masterslider id=”30″]

Matt Manfredi can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.