Fall is a wonderful time to visit the San Diego's back country, and visiting the mountain town of Julian
is a favorite autumn activity for families
. And during September and October is when Julian celebrates the apples grown in its local orchards. Yes, the temperature does get chilly enough for apple (and pear) growing, and some of those very apples (but not only local) are used in Julian's famous apple pies. Even better, some of the Julian orchards allow you to pick your own apples. Just remember that the apple picking window is short, and the orchards allow self-picking on a year-by-year basis, depending on how well mother nature has treated the trees. It's advised that you call each individual orchard to check on apple picking conditions.
Apple Starr Orchard is a certified organic orchard since 2002 (CCOF) growing apples and pears in Julian. There are approximately 1000 trees with their numbers balanced between apples and pears. The trees range in age from 20 to 70 years and the majority have low branches that children can access. The fruit ripens on the trees and is available for picking in September and though early October. Orchard hours are 10 am to 5 pm on weekends and by appointment during the week. Special arrangements for groups. For $25, a picking bag (one peck) is supplied, each holding 12 pounds. Dogs are not allowed in the orchard. (760) 305-2169, 1287 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian, CA 92036
Calico Ranch is a family-run apple and pear orchard located near Julian. The farm has remained in production since it was first planted in the early 1930s. The Young family has owned the 30 acre orchard for more than twenty years. As one of the last remaining apple orchards in the Julian area where the public can enjoy the fun of picking their own fruit, Calico Ranch offers a unique family experience. More than 130 varieties of apples are grown on-site as well as several varieties of pears. Orchard hours are Saturdays and Sundays during the season from 10 am-4 pm. For $10 you get a 1/2 peck bag to fill for $10 (cash only). Apple picking lasts as long as there are apples and it's recommended you come within the first 3 weekends in October. (858) 586- 0392 4200 Highway 78, Julian, CA 92036
Apples & Art Orchard provides apple picking only for groups of 10 or more. A lecture on apples and making your own apple cider is included and you are escorted around the orchard by the owner. Each bag is $10 for 5 pounds of all natural, no pesticide apples. The orchard does not have trees organized in rows and columns. Instead they are scattered throughout the property. The variety of apples in the orchard might include (depending on the weather) Red Delicious, Jonathan, Gala, Arkansan Black, Fiesta, Greensleeves, Queen Cox, and Liberty. (760) 310-6368, 1052 Julian Orchards Dr., P.O. Box 2412, Julian, CA 92036
Raven Hill Orchard consists of 8000 dwarf trees growing seven varieties of apples: Empire, Gala, Jonathans, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, and Pippin. Since 2005, the orchard has been managed by the Brady Brothers and Patrick Brady is also an accomplished sculptor. Raven Hill is the largest U-pick apple orchard in Julian and offers U-pick apples on a drop-in basis: just purchase an empty bag for $10 and go for it. Raven Hill is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. (760) 765-2431, 1284 Julian Orchards Drive, P.O. Box 981, Julian, CA 92036