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Apple Hill is suffering from hordes of tourists. Here’s how locals are adjusting

Apple season traffic isn’t just frustrating for visitors: Some locals fear it’s hurting business and the landscape. But this year, the Apple Hill Growers Association has made some changes in an effort to make the annual tradition stress-free.

Every year, thousands visit the 30 Apple Hill fruit and vegetable farms in Camino.

The season begins in mid-August and can continue all the way into December, but association President Chris Delfino said in a news release that most visitors come in October, crowding roads and parking lots.

Apple season generated so much traffic last year that the El Dorado County Transportation Commission called for urgent congestion mitigation funds for traffic flow improvements.

It also gathered funds for air quality programming to mitigate the increased pollution at Apple Hill.

While the visitors are important to farms and ranches, some say too much traffic can also hurt sales. Last year, it was so bad on Highway 50 that High Hill Ranch owner Him Visman told CBS it was driving away customers.

But Apple Hill Growers say there are simple solutions, among them weekday and early-bird visits. The association is encouraging apple lovers to get a head start on their apple cider, Halloween pumpkins, Christmas trees and wine tastings by coming up in September.

And since their products retain quality over the months, November can offer ideal visits too — with the added bonus of changing fall colors, the association said in a news release.

While last year’s Apple Farms Shuttle will no longer be in service in October, the association collaborated with local government, public safety officials and Caltrans to update traffic flow patterns and increase parking availability.

Here are the changes that will come into effect this October, according to the association:

  • There will not be a shuttle or lane closures on Carson Road.
  • Caltrans will be closing several eastbound left turn lanes on Highway 50, prompting visitors to use exits 48, 49A, 54 and 57. These roadways provide access to farms on Cable, Larsen, Mace and North Canyon roads that may be overlooked.
  • El Dorado County will use electronic signs on Highway 50 to highlight which exits are open.
  • California Highway Patrol officers will also be on hand to keep vehicles moving.

For more information on what’s in season and maps of the area, visitors can check out the Apple Hill Growers website at http://applehill.com/ and follow @applehillofficial on Facebook and Instagram for up-to-the-minute information.

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Caroline Ghisolfi, from Stanford University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee, focusing on breaking news and health care. She grew up in Milan, Italy.
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