Follow us to the countryside during the autumn months for some leaf-peeking, then head to the U-pick farms and apple orchards outside Portland, Oregon where you can pick your own from the season’s bounty. With hours worth of family-fun apple and pumpkin picking, you can enjoy a staycation or long weekend road trip and save money on your food bills for weeks to come.
At most farms today, entertaining guests is part of the business, so your family can expect to pick fruit, go on a hayride or other attraction, and buy fresh baked goods and fruit filled goodies. This year, keep in mind that to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, many U-pick farms require face coverings and advance reservations. In order to limit the crowds and maintain social distancing, their schedules may change, too.
Pickers should remember that certain varieties are better suited for different purposes. For example, bakers and apple sauce makers should look for the juicier Golden Delicious, Cortland, Russet or Mutsu. The most popular apple varieties for eating include the Macintosh, Empire, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Jonagold and Idared. For pumpkins that are soft enough to carve but not so ripe they won’t last till Halloween, consult a farmer.
For a complete guide to apple picking orchards and farms across the country, visit check out the FTF Guide to Top U-Pick Farms in the US.
Apple-Picking in the Portland Metropolitan Area
Portland is a hotbed of fresh fruits, local produce, organic vegetables and generally healthy farm-to-table cuisine. Many local families — known as locavores for bringing in food from local farms — find picking their own fruit to be a necessity in the Fall.
Locals agree that for apple picking around Portland, Oregon, the best area to hit is Hood River County, home of the Fruit Loop. Located just an hour away from Portland in the national scenic area of the Columbia River Gorge, the 35-mile-long picturesque Fruit Loop is a collection of pick-your-own fruit and vegetable orchards that together promote sustainable agricultural diversity in the county. Eleven are open and operating in fall 2019. While you are in the area, stop by one of the county’s alpaca farms so the kids can admire these fuzzy creatures.
Draper Girls Country Farm, open 365 days a year, boasts over 30 apple varieties. They also are known for their non-pasteurized apple cider mill. Before you arrive, be sure to visit their website for opening hours and share their ladder safety tips with the kids. In addition to fruit sales, they have a four-bedroom farmhouse you can rent from VRBO, their own farm-raised lamb, pork and beef for purchase and several farm animals to enjoy. Before you leave, be sure to pick up Draper’s famous cinnamon-sugar dried apples, a recipe from their grandparents.
Kiyokawa Family Orchards and Fruit Stand is a family-owned and operated orchard around Parkdale, all part of the Fruit Loop circuit. As at most other u-pick farms, you should call ahead to check their hours (open daily during the Fall season) and remember that pets are not allowed, because they might frighten the farm’s own animals. They credit the area’s rich soil and glacier-fed water supply with enabling them to grow 120 distinct varieties of apples, pears, and Asian pears. Since Kiyokawa has been in business since 1911, the kids will enjoy seeing the “old school” way of farming.
Mt. View Orchards is a 50-acre apple and pear farm, open daily from July to October. Like Kiyokawa, it has spectacular views of Mt. Hood from every tree. They sell both their own picked, or for you to pick, variety of fruits including prunes, peaches, grapes and pumpkins. Check their website for a calendar of special fall events, farm to table dinners and for news of the popular Carlos the Steer.
Oregon Favorites for Families Pick Your Own Farms Directory
Draper Girls Country Farm, 6200 Highway 35, Parkdale 97041 – 541/490-8113
Kiyokawa Family Orchards and Fruit Stand, 8129 Clear Creek Road, Parkdale 97041 – 541/352-7115
Mt. View Orchards, 6670 Trout Creek Ridge Road, Mt Hood Parkdale 97041 – 541/806-7070
For more information and for a complete listing of orchards, visit the Fruit Loop online. See our suggested itinerary for ideas on including the Fruit Loop on your road trip through the Pacific Northwest.
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