Charlottesville’s Fall Foliage

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Glimpse of the apple trees. Photo Credit: Mait Innes.

The fall season can be defined in many different ways. However, there is one tradition that stands out above all else. Fall is represented by apple picking; or, more specifically, apple picking at Carter Mountain Orchard. A well-loved destination for people of all ages across Virginia, Carter Mountain is home to over seven different apple flavors. The October flavors consist of Granny Smith, Fuji, Rome, Winesap, Stayman, Crispin, York, and Pink Lady. With varying flavors depending on the month, the orchard has more than enough apples for every visitor. Upon arrival, every customer is given a bag for their apples and a map of the orchard displaying their current availability. Once you have picked enough apples for your liking, a scale weighs your bag by the pound and prices your selection. By pricing apples by the pound, visitors are able to enjoy their experience instead of having to worry about picking more expensive versus less expensive flavors.

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Kindergarteners explore the apple orchard for the first time. Photo Credit: Pamela Lowe.

Not only is the orchard a notable location for seeking fresh fruit, it’s also known for its impeccable views of Charlottesville. Located behind the apple barn, the Bold Rock hard cider cellar is constantly overflowing with customers.  By offering beautiful sunset scenery each evening, this is a favorite spot for most customers ages twenty one and older.  By having everything from picnic tables overlooking the mountains to various cider mixtures, Bold Rock is known for its relaxing appeal. The area surrounding the cider cellar also serves as an event site for weddings, birthday parties, field trips, and even geocaching adventures. Although the line of cars wrapped around the mountain typically tends to be long, the wait for a parking spot is well worth each visit.

Because the orchard is known for hosting so many events, the website updates its availability daily. It’s best to check the orchard’s hours of operation before you plan on traveling to Charlottesville for the afternoon. Events such as “Holiday on the Hill,” “Breakfast with Santa,” and “Johnny Appleseed Day” are all designed to be fun activities for the whole family. Although the weekends may seem most convenient, Saturdays and Sundays are also most advantageous for other people as well. If you decide to instead embark on a day trip during a weekday, you may save yourself some time trying to find a place to park.

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Carter Mountain seasonal offerings. Photo credit: chilesfamilyorchards.com.

In addition to apples, the orchard also grows cherries, plums, apricots, nectarines, strawberries, and peaches throughout the year. Check out Carter Mountain’s website to view a complete list of seasonal offerings. The orchard has also opened up a Country Store and Bakery for those interested in a sweet treat to go along with the fresh fruit. Everything from the legendary cinnamon sugar doughnuts to warm apple cider and hot chocolate, the bakery is full of homemade, delectable items to satisfy any sweet tooth. The Mountain Grill, located next to the apple barn, is another option specifically open on weekends and for special events only. Well known for serving a variety of lunch and dinner options, the pork BBQ sandwich is an orchard favorite. Boxed lunches are also available to avoid long lines if you intend on calling ahead and placing an order.

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Mrs. Lowe’s kindergarten class poses for a picture on top of the mountain. Photo Credit: Pamela Lowe.

Looking for a new orchard to explore?  Try visiting the Chiles Peach Orchard located in Crozet or the Spring Valley Orchard in Afton; both orchards are owned by the same family that owns Carter Mountain. Fruit orchards offer a variety of activities and clearly attract an array of ages, which is why Collegiate has been taking their Kindergarten classes up to Charlottesville each fall for an annual field trip. Last week the Class of 2028 loaded onto buses and experienced this year’s apple picking adventure, a pleasant school outing full of new lessons and lots of apples.

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Class of 2016