Of all the years I've lived in Charlotte, I will admit, I've never been to an apple orchard. Odd to say the least, considering how close we are to all the wondrous mountains of North Carolina and how much we've frequented it. City life may have left me a bit clueless on the existence of an apple orchard close by. But not anymore...
I was made aware of Skytop Orchard, which seem to be the only good game in town, or rather, the only one highly recommended by most people I asked. As such, my anticipation to visit it rose beyond 100% - especially when we have to make 3 attempts to go see it! But alas, the schedule gods allowed us to finally see it and were able to set foot on the orchard to pick apples. I couldn't be more delighted and excited to experience this remarkable task of picking apples ahead of me! I might just have heard some angels singing "Hallelujah!" that moment I walked in the middle of the orchard where the bounty of apples awaits me!
The orchard have a massive reputation of being so popular that there are days where the parking lot gets full. In this case visitors are advised to have a back-up plan if it happens. Thankfully, on our visit, arriving on a time which is less than ideal as we first thought, was actually the perfect timing! It was mid-noon, on a Sunday, and most of the early pickers are done for the day and on their way out. Leaving enough parking spot for late stragglers like us. Nevertheless, the orchard was still relatively crowded.
Apples ripe for the Pickin'
If you're hoping for honeycrisps at this point in time, I will tell you now, you'll be utterly disappointed - as we were. Honeycrisps are available in August and are the first ones to get sold out. To make sure you get the right apple varieties of the season, check their picking schedule for up-to-date guidance before taking the almost 2 hour trip (from Charlotte). Luckily, we love Fuji apples and they were ripe for the pickin' at the time of our visit.
|Our large basket full of apple goodness|
|Arkansas Black (ready by October)|
Exploring the Orchard
And then I climbed...
Like a monkey and it was the best thing. ever. You should know that it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to do just that. To relive a thing in your childhood days that you love to do. I grew up around fruit trees and loved climbing them every bit of a chance I get, so the apple tree was a challenge I was willing to conquer...
Even at the expense of looking like a monkey in jogger pants and strappy sandals! But I loved every moment of it. Not to mention, it was wonderful to discover that I have not lost that ability! - The ability to climb like a monkey!
|The "Monkey" on top of the Fuji apple tree|
Why you should go?
Nothing beats fresh apple straight from the tree. Also, the price can't be beat. Sure, you may have to travel almost 2 hours to get to its location, but at $1.29/lb, and the fun of picking an apple from the tree are so worth it. A plus, if your child loves it so much they want to come back!
Also, the Apple cider doughnuts are to die for! I never in my life eat two doughnuts in one sitting but this one totally got me eating two and I literally inhaled it. That's how yummy it is! They're also made fresh right on the spot. Can't beat freshly-made doughnuts!
Useful tips to make your visit pleasant:
- Bring wipes or hand sanitizer - they have portolets and no immediate access to water and soap.
- Bring a shopping bag to transport your bounty to protect your delicate produce.
- Make sure to wear a hat or slather tons of sunscreen. The sun can be pretty harsh in the high country.
- Bring a collapsible utility wagon to help you haul your heavy bounty up and down the hill.
- If you must wash your hands, they have a sink in the main barn close to the apple sorting area.
- Get a map! Especially if it's your first time. You'll need it.
- Go farther and deeper into the orchard to pick. Most of the trees upfront are already picked through.
- Bring water! You will thank yourself for it.
- Take it slow and just have fun!
- They also sell huge pumpkins and of course, apple ciders so, make sure to check these one out too!
- Last but not the least... please, don't wear heels!
Skytop Orchard is located in Flat Rock NC. Their picking season opens in August and ends in early November or late December.