It’s not at all clear why Johnny Appleseed, proud purveyor of produce, might have stopped sowing seeds somewhere just beyond Ellijay, on the southern side of the Blue Ridge region. Who knows? Maybe it was some menacing dogs at the county line, or maybe he didn’t get a conditional use permit, but it doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with jurisdictional boundaries.
It’s not like grapes, where certain types, vinifera, for example, grow best at particular elevations or proper ph. But somehow good ol’ Johnny either stopped for no reason or ran out of seed after a productive sojourn to the east of Ellijay, about 20 miles south of Blue Ridge. The good news is, there’s a high concentration of apple trees close by, and if you overshoot that’s not a bad thing. Maybe you land in Dahlonega, where the good grapes grow. But that’s another story, for another time.
An apple hunt foray is an easy day trip, maybe even a casual and scenic afternoon, going out in search of apples and apple products in Apple Orchard Alley. It won’t take long to figure out you’ve arrived. You’ll see the signs first, announcing “U-Pick” spots along Highway 52, and the roadside stands, where you can pick up apples by the bag or the bushel. Then the smells begin. With even decent scent skills you can pick up the whiff of a fried pie and a gallon of cider about a half a mile out.
R and A Orchards
Red Apple Barn
Penland’s Apple House
Panorama Farm Market
Plenty of options for food, fun and entertainment are up and down Highway 52, including the picking itself, which takes place on ladders in trees; or just meandering open air markets to choose what you want to take home. Literally dozens of apple varieties are available to choose from although, thanks to ripening timing, it might take a few trips to track down the apple of your choice. Many of the varieties you will recognize, like Jonathon and Red Delicious and Honey Crisp. Others you’ll find in Ellijay don’t typically land in the produce section of local grocery stores. Mutsu, for example; or Swiss Gourmet, or Arkansas Black, are some that are somewhat unique in these parts.
The beauty of a relaxing drive from Blue Ridge to apple country is that this time of year is also fall color season, so the scenery is special from that perspective. It’s also the time for autumn harvests (pumpkins, squash, etc.), and the time of year when corn mazes are popular for kids and families. Let your kids play but try not to leave them behind!
Blairsville Corn Maze -Through November 10th
Uncle Shucks Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch – Through November 17th
Sunday – Thursday 10am-6:00pm
Friday & Saturday 10am-10pm
Along with harvests come festivals including the Georgia Apple Festival, October 12 & 13 and 19th & 20th in Georgia’s Apple Capital – Ellijay, of course which comes with complete with crafts displays, parades and an antique car show.