Just 25 miles south of downtown Asheville is one of the country's top apple growing areas. Visit the orchards and farms for free! North Carolina is the 7th largest apple-producing state in the nation, and Henderson County is the largest apple-producing county in North Carolina. Visit many orchards along US Highway 64 (we call it "Apple Alley"), just a few miles east of I-26 (between Hendersonville and Chimney Rock).
The apple harvest season runs from early August through October, and many of the orchards are open daily. Since 40+ varieties of apples are grown in our mountains, they ripen at different times throughout the season. Several of the orchards offer tours and many allow you to pick your own apples - and pick up pumpkins and other farm harvest. Here are our favorite orchards in Western North Carolina:
Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard
Open mid August through early November, Stepp's is a fourth generation, 70-acre working farm with mountain views, just 5.5 miles from I-26 (and a mile off US Highway 64). Pick you own apples (or grapes or pumpkins) and shop in their Country Market with apples, pumpkins, cider, apple butter and gifts. Take a ride on the farm wagon on weekends through acres of orchard and Farmer Stepp’s pumpkin patch. Enjoy fresh apple cider with a doughnut in the picnic area. Kids of all ages love the apple canons! 221 Stepp Orchard Dr., Hendersonville, 828-685-9083
Open August through mid-November, Grandad's Apples is just two miles from I-26 on US Highway 64. Find a huge selection of pre-picked apples or pick your own in the orchards. At Grandad’s Barn and Country Store, find a great selection of fall harvest decorations, apple peelers, apple bakers, and other apple gifts. Enjoy apple turnovers, fried pies, apple bread, caramel apples, ice cream, cider and a more. Stroll through the orchards or explore the corn maze. In October, find pumpkins in every size. 2951 Chimney Rock Rd., Hendersonville, 828-685-1685
Jeter Mountain Farm
Open July through October, this farm offers 23 varieties of apples available in their U-Pick orchards in addition to sunflowers, peaches, blueberries, pumpkins, and Christmas Trees. They feature apple cider donuts, a play area, apple butter, garden salsas, hand-made soaps, and wagon rides. Enjoy hard ciders at Flat Rock Cider Co. Taproom on the farm, serving six hard ciders on tap, including a special Jeter Mountain Farm original blend. 1126 Jeter Mountain Road, Hendersonville, (828) 513-0404
Flat Rock Area: Sky Top Orchard is open August through mid-December, with their famous apple cider doughnuts, barnyard animals, bamboo forest, picnic areas, and a mountaintop of apple and fruit trees to explore. Find 22 varieties. Expect big crowds on weekends. Read more.
Blue Ridge Parkway / Little Switzerland: Orchard at Altapass is a must stop on the Parkway all summer and fall with authentic mountain music, food, hikes and hayrides! Pick more than 40 varieties of apples. Load up on jam. They are a non-profit historic site, so they only sell apples on site. Open Wednesday-Sunday.
Waynesville / Sylva Area: Barber Orchards (2855 Old Balsam Rd, Waynesville) is open August-Christmas Eve. Buy a variety of fresh apples from their farm, along with other produce. Their bakery is a local's favorite - especially known for their apple turnovers, fritters, pies and more. Located along the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway (US 23 / 74).
- NC Apple Festival is held on four days during Labor Day Weekend in downtown Hendersonville usually with a parade, plenty of music, crafts, and much more! See our updated NC Apple Festival Guide for details.
- Apple Harvest Festival is a big street fair in downtown Waynesville on the third Saturday of October. Read more.
Apple Ripening Schedule
- 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