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A Guide to Apple Picking in the Georgia Mountains

Working on your fall bucket list? Apple picking in the Georgia mountains is a must-add activity. Head to the Blue Ridge Mountains for a classic fall experience you don’t want to miss or to Ellijay; “The Apple Capital of Georgia”. This guide to apple picking in the Georgia Mountains is everything you need for a fun fall day trip filled with apples, apple cider, apple donuts and more!

Fall won’t be complete without enjoying all the delicious apple varieties grown in Georgia—and the homemade treats made from them. There are plenty of great farms and experiences to choose from, whether you want to pick your own apples, or you’d prefer to bring home a peck of pre-picked apples. Georgia’s apple orchards offer everything from family-friendly experiences to wineries—there’s a little something for everyone!

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Read on to find out everything you need to know to plan your apple picking in GA adventure.

Apple Basket

Apple Festivals and Apple Picking in the Georgia Mountains

Apple season in Georgia typically runs from late August to early November, and the north Georgia mountains produce over thirty varieties of apples. If you are planning to pick your own apples, remember that apple trees ripen from the outside in, so apples on the outside branches will ripen first. 

Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay

Georgia Apple Festival

Ellijay is known as “The Apple Capital of Georgia” and produces over 250,000 bushels of apples each year. Ellijay is located in North Georgia and hosts the annual Georgia Apple Festival, which has been happening for over fifty years.

The festival takes place over two weekends in October (2022 dates: Oct 8-9 and Oct 15-16) at the Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds and includes more than three hundred vendors, an Apple Classic Auto Show, Apple Festival 5K, and a parade.

Admission is $10/person and ages 12 & under are free. You’ll be able to purchase pecks of apples at the festival, but if you want to pick your own, you’ll want to plan a trip to a farm that offers U-pick a little earlier in the season. 

If you are heading towards Ellijay outside of the apple festival dates, Gilmer County boasts quite a few apple orchards to choose from. 

The Georgia Apple Festival is a fundraising event for the Lion’s Club and their charities.

If you are looking for a fun day trip from Atlanta, here are X additional apple orchards to visit this fall.

Georgia Apple Festival Location: Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds 1729 South Main Street Ellijay, Georgia 30540

Best Ellijay, Georgia Apple Orchards

Ellijay is a great small town and a perfect day trip from Atlanta and Chattanooga. It’s located near the Cohutta Mountains and Rich Mountain Wilderness (both in the Chattahoochee National Forest) and near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In addition to the Georgia Apple Festival, there are plenty of apple orchards to visit in Ellijay and throughout Gilmer County. Below are our top picks!

1. B.J. Reece Orchards

B.J. Reece Apple Orchards of Ellijay

B.J. Reece Orchards has been in operation since the 1960s, and prides itself on being family-friendly and pet friendly. Apple picking season runs from August 1 through October 15th.

Once apple season starts, you can enjoy U-Pick apples, take a turn on the giant slide, and stop by the petting zoo during the week.

On weekends, you can cheer on the pigs during pig races, milk a cow, try your hand at the apple cannons, and enjoy a wagon ride. Other activities include a jumping pillow, scavenger hunt, pony rides, and racing zip lines. Be sure to pick up one of their world-famous fried-apple pies for a snack while you are there! 

  • Farm activities: U-Pick apples, giant slide, petting zoo, bakery.
  • Apple varieties: 24 varieties during the season including crimson crisp, golden delicious, rome beauty, and evercrisp.
  • Cost: 1/2 peck (10-15 apples) $10, 1 peck (20-25 apples) $20 and 1/2 bushel (40-50 apples) $40
  • Distance from Atlanta: 85 miles & about 1.5 hours
  • B.J. Reece Orchards Address: 9131 Highway 52 East – Ellijay, Georgia 30536

2. R&A Orchards

R&A Orchards, located in the middle of apple country, is just a few miles east of Ellijay. R&A Orchards apple picking season runs from June 6 through November 1st. They offer farm tours and you pick apples every weekend in September.

Family-owned since 1947, their roadside market is stocked with delicious treats like pecan apple butter, apple cider, jellies, and preserves. Once you pick up a peck of fresh apples, be sure to give some of their favorite apple recipes a try. They also offer peach picking in June, so if you drive by in the summer be sure to stop for some delicious fruit. 

  • Farm activities: Apple harvest
  • Apple varieties: 18 varieties during the season including LoDi, June Apple, Detroit Red, Ginger Golden, Gala, Jona Gold, Granny Smith, Yates, Limbertwig, Pink Lady and more!
  • Cost: Check website for apple prices.
  • Distance from Atlanta: 81 miles & about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  • R&A Orchards Address: 5505 GA-52 East, Ellijay, GA 30536

3. Red Apple Barn

Red Apple Barn offers apple picking on weekends from September through November (or until all the apples are picked).

Admission to Red Apple includes a tractor ride, an apple from the orchard, a cup of delicious apple cider, and an apple cider doughnut. You also get three flowers (sunflowers not included), a visit to the animals at the Orchard barn, access to the pumpkin patch (pumpkins are purchased separately), tractor tire swings, and playground.

They also offer picnic areas, games, and a rock and pumpkin painting area. The farm market is open every day of the week from August through December 23, and in addition to fresh produce and freshly baked goods, you can grab a copy of the Red Apple Barn cookbook, with recipes spanning four generations.

Hours are 10:30 am to 5 pm on Saturdays, and 1 pm to 4 pm on Sundays.

  • Farm activities: Tractor ride to and from the orchard, visit the animals at the Orchard Barn, Playground for the kids, Tractor Tire Swings, Rock and Pumpkin Painting, Games, Picnic Areas, farm market.
  • Apple varieties: 19 varieties during the season including Detroit Red, Gala, Honeycrisp, September Wonder, Rome Beauty, Suncrisp, Pritchett Golden, Arkansas Black and more.
  • Cost: Admission to Red Apple ($9.99, 2 & under free). Quarter Peck is $6.25. Half Peck is $10.50. Full Peck is $18.75 and Half bushel $36.
  • Distance from Atlanta: 80 miles & about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  • Red Apple Barn Address: 3379 Tailscreek Road, Ellijay, Georgia 30540

4. Hillcrest Orchards

caramel apples

Hillcrest Orchards is another family-owned farm. It has been operating since 1946 and is only open during September and October.

You can visit during the week or on weekends, but apple picking is only offered on the weekends, as part of their Apple Pickin’ Jubilee ($15/person).

During Jubilee weekends, in addition to picking your own apples, you’ll be able to catch their famous swimming pig races, milk a cow, and watch live music. On weekdays, visitors can enjoy the petting farm, wagon rides, and several playgrounds, including a kids corn maze, jumping pillow, and giant slides. Hillcrest is home to the first apple tree maze in the South and has a bakery where you can get your fill of fried apple pies and other apple treats.

  • Farm activities: Petting farm, wagon rides, apple tree maze, several playgrounds, including a kids corn maze, jumping pillow, giant slides and bakery.
  • Apple varieties: Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Goldrush Arkansas Black, Yates and more varieties inside the market.
  • Cost: $10/person during the week & $15/person on weekend.
  • Distance from Atlanta: 79 miles & about 1.5 hours.
  • Hillcrest Orchards Address: 9696 Hwy. 52 E. Ellijay, Georgia 30536

5. Additional Ellijay, Georgia Apple Orchards

apple crate

Other “Apple Capital” orchards include Aaron Family Orchards (8350 Hwy 52E Ellijay, GA 30536), Panorama Farm Market (63 Talona Mountain Rd, Ellijay, GA 30536), Penland’s Apple House (41 Talona Spur Rd, Ellijay, GA 30540), Hudson’s Apple House (8036 GA-52, Ellijay, GA 30536), Mack Aaron’s Apple House (2801 Lower Cartecay Rd, Ellijay, GA 30536) and Seller’s Apple House (255 Parks Dr, Ellijay, GA 30536).

Georgia Wine Country Detour

Gilmer County is also known as the heart of Georgia wine country. If you’d like to add a vineyard stop to your itinerary, Engelheim Vineyards (127 Lakeview Rd, Ellijay, Ga, 30540) is open seven days a week (12:30 pm to 6 pm) and won Best Georgia Grown Wine in 2021 and 2022. You can find a full list of Ellijay’s wineries and tasting rooms here.

Best Blue Ridge, GA Apple Orchard

apple orchard

Apple picking in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the perfect fall activity in Georgia. Mercier Orchards is the best option! It is the largest apple orchard in Georgia (200 acres), and has also been repeatedly voted the favorite “roadside apple market” in Georgia.

6. Mercier Orchards

Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia
Freshly made donuts at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Mercier Orchards, a fourth-generation, family-owned orchard is a popular apple farm excursion with Georgia locals. Founded in 1943 with twenty-seven acres, the farm has grown over the years and now spans three hundred acres.

In addition to U-pick apples, they offer tractor rides ($5/person, not available during U-Pick weekends) and a farm market stocked with fresh produce, apple butter, preserves, gift baskets and more. Pick up a fresh apple fritter or apple cider donut from the bakery (open 9-5 daily), and pack your fishing pole, because they offer catch and release fishing in their pond.

You can also stop for a sip in their winery, which offers seasonal wines and hard ciders—including, of course, hard apple cider. Be sure to check their website for U-Pick dates before you plan your trip. 

  • Farm activities: Tractor rides, u-pick, cafe, store.
  • Apple varieties: Ginger Gold, Blondee, Detroit Red, Gala, Golden Supreme, Jonathon, Ambrosia, Cameo, Crimson Crisp, Empire, Jona Prince, Mcintosh, Mutzu and more!
  • Cost: Check website for apple prices.
  • Distance from Atlanta: 95 miles & about 1.5 Hours
  • Mercier Orchards Address: 8660 Blue Ridge Dr., Blue Ridge, GA 30513

Jackson County, Georgia Apple Farm

7. Jaemor Farms

Jaemor Farms is a family-friendly farm in Alto that specializes in East Coast apples. They grow Ginger Gold and Arkansas Black but bring in varieties from other farms for purchase. During fall weekends (mid-September to the first weekend in November), you can get your fill of fall fun exploring the corn maze, racing down the farm slide, testing your aim with the apple cannons, and trying to win a hand-pump duck race.

A hayride around the farm is the perfect way to cap off your visit. While you are there, make sure you stop by the market and join the over one million people who visit annually for fresh produce, homemade ice cream, fried pies, and more. If you can’t make it out to the farm, keep an eye on their pop-up market calendar to see if they’ll be making a stop closer to you. They also offer flower, strawberry, and peach-picking during the spring and summer seasons

  • Farm activities: farm slide, apple cannons, duck races, market.
  • Apple varieties: 16 varieties including Ginger Gold and Arkansas Black.
  • Distance from Atlanta: 70 miles & about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Jaemor Farms Address: 40081 U.S. Hwy. 441 Commerce, GA 30529

Southern Appalachia GA Apple Farm

8. Deep Roots Orchard

Folk Apothic at Deep Roots Orchard, is located in McCaysvill and a great option if you’d like to venture outside of Gilmer County. Located in the heart of Southern Appalachia, this old-fashioned family farm hosts Cider Days (2022 dates: Sept 17 and Sept 24. Tickets are $30 (if purchased in advance) and include an orchard tour and an explanation of the harvesting process.

You’ll also get a chance to use the vintage cider press to make your own apple cider to take home—a memorable experience for the whole family! This orchard is close to the Georgia-Tennessee state line, and you can stop in downtown McCaysville to snap a photo in two places at once!

  • Farm activities: tractor rides, Mae’s kitchen.
  • Cost: Cider Days is $30 per person reserved or $35 at the door and 3 and under are free.
  • Distance from Atlanta: 106 miles & about 2 hours.
  • Mercier Orchards Address: 2984 Mobile Rd Mc Caysville, Georgia 30555

Know Before you Go! Whether you opt to pick your own apples, visit a farm market for pre-picked fruit, or celebrate at a festival, the apple season in Georgia is not to be missed. Make sure you have your camera ready to capture the beautiful colors of fall and the memories you’ll make in the north Georgia mountains. 

Please remember that apple picking in GA is subject to availability, depends on weather and crop conditions. Dates of ripening will vary by orchard, so it’s always a good idea to check their Facebook page or call before driving out.

Different Varieties of Apple Common to Georgia

The most popular apple varieties grown in Georgia include Empire, Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Jonathan, Ozark Gold, Paulard, Red Delicious, Rome Beauty, and Yates.

5 Fun Facts about Apples

When you plan your apple picking in Georgia excursion, you can impress your family and friends with these fun facts about apples!

  • The five most popular apples in the United States are Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp.
  • It takes about 36 apples to make one gallon of apple cider.
  • Over 2,500 Varieties of Apples are Grown in the United States.
  • A Bushel of Apples Weighs About 42 Pounds.
  • Eating apples is linked to a lower risk of many chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

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