I’ve lived in North Carolina for over 12 years and can’t remember a first day of fall that has ever felt quite this much like fall! When I saw the forecast was supposed to be 68 and sunny on the first official day of fall, I knew we had to go apple picking. We are within an hour or two of the mountains, so we had quite a few options to choose from. Ultimately we decided on Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard, a new one for us, to check two items off our fall fun list- apple picking and a corn maze!
Stepp’s is in Hendersonville, about 20 miles outside of Asheville, so from the Lake Norman area it was about a two hour and fifteen minute drive for us. The girls did fall-themed worksheets from The Moffatt Girls and we all sang along to Spotify’s Disney Halloween playlist. The drive went by quite pleasantly.
Driving into the mountains was exciting and the sprawling orchard on the side of rolling hills was exactly what we were hoping to find at the end of our drive. Upon arrival we were greeted by the nicest man who explained the layout of the grounds to us, the apple types and locations, where to pick, and more. Kaitlyn was truly jumping up and down squealing about getting to pick apples and we wasted no time buying our peck and heading out to fill it with a variety from the orchard.
There were so. many. apples. On the trees, on the ground beneath the trees, rows and rows of different apple varieties. We wandered around quite a bit picking only the “most perfect” specimens. I looked over to see Kaitlyn gnawing at one and turned back around to see Hailey doing the same, so we finished up our apple picking and headed back to the main barn to set up our picnic.
The day was absolutely beautiful and the orchard did not feel crowded. There were other people there, but everyone felt very spread out. The Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard property is huge and you are free to wander wherever you please. There are fields of sunflowers, grapevines, the apples of course, pumpkins, and more. We ran into maybe one or two other families in the orchard and we were the only people in the corn maze.
Yup, there was a corn maze! A 7-acre corn maze with corn at least 10′ high. It was the main attraction in bringing us to this orchard and I’m so glad for it. Like I mentioned, we were the only ones in the corn maze that day and it felt magical.
I used my Garmin watch to time us and our first time through took 25 minutes and we walked over a mile trying to find our way out. I was shocked when as soon as we exited, the girls begged to do it again. But we did! And the second time took us 18 minutes and we walked .8 miles. That much running around warmed us all up a good bit so we headed back to the market for apple cider slushies.
We spent the last bit of our visit wandering the pumpkin patch (it’s u-pick, too, but we stuck to apples), playing in the mini corn maze, and rocking in the chairs outside the market. I intended us to be there for an hour or two, but three and a half hours later, I was having to force the girls back in the car for the trip home. What a huge success it turned out to be for us and though it was a bit of a drive, I highly recommend Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard.
Now that we have so many varieties on the counter, I’m thinking the apple oxidation experiment or apple painting activity from my kindergarten apple homeschool unit might be in order. Or at the very least, another batch of apple cinnamon oat muffins. Maybe once we finish the donuts!
We were quite pumped that we got to check off two of our fun fall ideas on the first day of fall, and now we are picking out what will come next. I think we might still have to wait a while for that “jump in a pile of leaves” option!
What is your favorite fall tradition?