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Some Apple Hill businesses are ready for you to head on up

Love fall? Here’s how to make the best of the season in Apple Hill

It's a seasonal tradition for thousands of Northern Californians: A visit to Apple Hill. Apple cider donuts, apple fritters, apple pies and caramel apples are just a few of the treats offered at farms throughout the area near Placerville.
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It's a seasonal tradition for thousands of Northern Californians: A visit to Apple Hill. Apple cider donuts, apple fritters, apple pies and caramel apples are just a few of the treats offered at farms throughout the area near Placerville.

Hundreds of visitors got an early start on the Apple Hill season on Saturday by purchasing apples, wine and baked goods at the two farms now open in Camino: High Hill Ranch and Abel’s Apple Farm

The rest of Apple Hill’s ranches will be open Labor Day weekend through Nov. 25, and thousands of visitors are expected to visit more than 50 farms partnered with the Apple Hill Growers Association.

Visitors can pick their own apples, enjoy pony rides, wine tasting and purchase Christmas trees. Many of the farms are kid friendly, with opportunities to watch how bakers skin apples, prepare pies and jams, and make cider.

More than 45 vendors were stationed at High Hill Ranch selling a variety of crafts. Organizers said that number will grow to 75 as the season progresses.

“Everyone is happy, and there is a lot of good energy,” said Frank Diaz, a Southern California vendor who returned for the second time to sell wax art shaped in a mold of your hand.

Rebecca Upjohn has been visiting Apple Hill from Sacramento for 37 years, and though she moved to Wyoming for graduate school, she made time to visit Saturday with her family.

“We made it a family tradition, and now we are passing it on to the next generation,” Upjohn said. “We even buy our Christmas tree here.”

The crowd on Saturday was light at the open farms but will grow throughout the season, especially in October and November, when visitors typically congest the roads.

“I have been coming since kids were babies,” said Roni Schultz. “Two years ago, it took me two hours from my home in Placerville.”

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.

This year, changes will include:

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 what 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 applehill.com and follow @applehillofficial on Facebook and Instagram for up-to-the-minute information.

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Sawsan Morrar covers school accountability and culture for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in Sacramento and is an alumna of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She previously freelanced for various publications including The Washington Post, Vice, KQED and Capital Public Radio.
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