Follow us to the countryside during the autumn months for some leaf-peeking, then head to U-pick Oregon apple farms, orchards and pumpkin patches outside Portland, Oregon. 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, some U-pick farms may cancel hayrides, or require face coverings and, often, advance reservations. In order to limit crowds and maintain social distancing, their schedules may change, too.
Pickers should remember that certain apple 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 are a Hood River Valley fixture, known for their non-pasteurized apple cider mill. Before you arrive, be sure to visit the website for opening hours and fruit storage and ladder safety tips (very important). Do try their hard cider, Draper Girls Cider, named for the founding farmer’s daughter and three granddaughters. In addition, they have a four-bedroom farmhouse for rent, 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 that is part of the Fruit Loop circuit. We admire that Japanese immigrants founded the business in 1911, and that the farm survived its owners being sent to an internment camp during WWII. They’re also well known locally because they participate in 15 farmers markets throughout the region. As at most other u-pick farms, call ahead to check their hours (open daily during the Fall season.) The Kiyokawa clan credit the area’s rich soil and glacier-fed water supply with enabling them to grow 150 distinct varieties of apples, pears and Asian pears. It’s still run traditionally so the kids will enjoy seeing the “old school” way of farming. Note that dogs on leash are only allowed in the u-pick areas because they might frighten the farm’s animals.
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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