Four Sweet Pick-Your-Own Apple Spots

by Lisa Davol

Looking to get out of the office and into the fresh air? Been meaning to do more physical activities and eat more fresh fruit? What about getting in some fun outdoor activities with the family before the cold weather hits? Picking your own apples is the perfect way to check these items off your list.

Franklin County, in Western Massachusetts, has orchards dotting some of the most scenic landscapes in Massachusetts. Pick from century old trees located in orchards that have been in the family for generations. While you’re at it, take a break, bring a picnic lunch, and take in the scenery or refuel at some of the orchard restaurants. Here are four of our favorite pick your own spots.

Clarkdale Fruit Farms

303 Upper Road, Deerfield, (413) 772-6797
Pick Your Own daily 9am-5pm
Drive-through Farm Stand open daily 9am-5pm
Call or check Website for COVID-19 related changes in hours and services

This fourth-generation family fruit farm located in the beautiful hills of Deerfield grows heirloom apple varieties from trees planted by the first generation of Clarks in1912. As true New England farmers, the Clarks are not ones to rest easy and continue to plant new varieties every year. Clarkdale offers eight pick your own apple varieties to choose from including Macintosh, Ginger Gold, Gala, Empire, Cortland, Macoun, and Jonagold. Looking for that hard to find variety that you won’t find in your local supermarket? The Clarks actually grow over 40 apple varieties including Esopus Spitzenburg, Wolf River, Akane and Pound Sweet. If you’re looking for more for your cornucopia, their farmstand, open 8am-6pm daily, also carries pears, nectarines, plums, grapes and more. They accept credit cards and SNAP EBT. While you’re there, don’t forget to take your picture in front of the iconic Clarkdale apple.

Let’s face it, there are only so many whole apples you can eat, so they conveniently have a few tasty recipes on their website like Lavinia’s Apple Lemon Custard Pie

New Salem Orchards and Preserves

67 South Main Street, New Salem, MA, (978) 544-3437
Pick Your Own Saturday and Sunday, 9am-5pm
Call or check Website for COVID-19 related changes in hours and services

Spectacular view overlooking Quabbin Reservoir? Check. Location on a farm established in 1750 with 125 year old fruit trees? Check. A barn with fresh pressed cider, just baked cider doughnuts, local cheeses, preserves and apple butter? Yup. You’ll definitely want to bring a picnic lunch and make a day of your trip to this orchard in the historic town of New Salem. The views here are spectacular year round but for a real treat, come at the peak of foliage where you will likely find friends and neighbors savoring hot mulled cider in the barn kitchen. And also the newly opened, one of a kind outdoor Cider Garden, tucked in next to the barn and farm store, is a cozy haven for friends - including the four legged kind - to gather and relax. Enjoy a glass of their award winning cider as you drink in the breathtaking scenery. If you hit it right, you may also find a pop up cider or vinegar making workshop.

Pine Hill Orchards

248 Greenfield Rd, Colrain, MA 413-624-3325  
Pick Your Own Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm and Monday holidays
Restaurant open for take-out only Thursday-Sunday 9am - 2pm
Farm store open Wednesday through Sunday from 9am to 6pm and Saturday and Sunday for Walk In & Window Service
Call or check Website for updated COVID-19 related changes in hours and services

Matt Shearer, a member of this family-owned 75 acre orchard in Colrain, says people come for the apples but stay for the animals. After picking Macs, Courtlands, Jonagolds, Spencers, Honey Crisps, Macouns, and Galas, he finds visitors lingering for hours at the pond with the cows, goats, potbelly pigs, donkeys and ducks. The on-site restaurant serves delicious comfort food every day from early morning until 2 pm. And there’s more. The orchard’s market has hard and sweet cider, fresh baked pies, cider doughnuts, maple products, crafts, and local meats.

Apex Orchards

225 Peckville Road, Shelburne, MA, 413-625-2744
Pick Your Own 7 days a week starting in September
Farm Store open for the Season August through December
Call or check Website for updated COVID-19 hours and services  

Use caution as you approach this orchard because the scenic views of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire may very well take your breath away. They don’t call it Apex for nothing. The orchard, which has been in Tim Smith’s family since 1828, now includes apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots, quince, pears, Asian pears, blueberries, table grapes and kiwi. Be sure to pick up some Evercrisp apples, a new variety that stores extremely well.

Aside from fruit, their new 4,000 sq. ft. retail store offers honey products from Smith’s Shelburne Honey Co., maple syrup from the Graves farm in Colrain and the Boyden farm in Conway, Shelburne Cider Vinegar and ciders from Apex, Cabot cheese, Yankee Pastime Farm’s maple cream, Sidehill Farm yogurt and “Just Soap” made in Ashfield. You’ll also find cider doughnuts from Pine Hill Orchard in Colrain.

This spot is on the area’s destination list and you could easily spend an afternoon there with tractor drawn trailer rides, apple picking, in store events, and hanging out on the spacious patio overlooking the vista. And afterward, cross the street for West County Cider’s new hard cider tasting room.

The retail store is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm from August through December. The Winter Store located at 153 Peckville is open December through April.

Tips and resources

Call ahead to find out which apple varieties are currently available for picking or just show up and be surprised. If you’d like to do your own research before heading out, this interactive Apple Finder has pictures, tartness levels, and descriptions of more than 120 varieties grown in New England.

Still haven't satisfied your apple appetite? You can immerse yourself in all things apple with workshops, tours, tastings and more at Franklin County CiderDays. This annual event, held the first weekend in November, features the longest running hard cider tasting in the country.

Why not get some creative ideas on what to do with your apples by taking cooking classes from James Beard Award winning Chef Sanford (Sandy) D'Amato at Good Stock Farm?

Event Information

July 14

Great Hall Exhibit: Remnants

July 14

Shelburne Falls Porch Music Festival

July 15

Fancy Nancy Luncheon

July 16

Great Hall Exhibit: Remnants

July 16

Great Hall Exhibit: Remnants

July 17

Great Hall Exhibit: Remnants

July 17

Shelburne Falls Military Band Concerts

July 18

Great Hall Exhibit: Remnants