It may be too early for colored leaves, but there’s another reason to head to the north Georgia mountains over the next few weekends — it’s apple picking time!
The town of Ellijay in Gilmer County is the center of Georgia’s apple-growing region – it produces 600,000 bushels of apples each year, according to the local Chamber of Commerce. But Habersham County and other neighboring counties are not far behind.
During October, many orchards open their gates so you can have a real farm experience — complete with petting zoos, hayrides, and activities for the kids.
If you don’t want to pick your own, you’ll find farm markets at the orchards, along with small roadside stands and farmers selling apples or fresh cider from the backs of pick-up trucks.
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(See below for you-pick orchards!)
♦ 50th annual Georgia Apple Festival
The Georgia Apple Festival is an annual event that takes place over two weekends in Ellijay.
This 2021 festival dates are:
- October 9th & 10th
- October 16th & 17th
- Saturdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Sundays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $5.
Kids age 10 and under are FREE.
The festival includes hundreds of vendor booths that feature fresh apples and all kinds of apple products: fried apple pies, fritters, cider, jelly, etc. You’ll also find vendors with handmade, hand-crafted items, as well as many on-site demonstrations of how things are made.
Apple Arts on the Square is an extension of the festival this year. It takes place in downtown Ellijay on festival weekends, and the free shuttle runs between the Square and the fairgrounds. You’ll find vendor booths selling arts, crafts, and food.
There is a parade and antique car show each year.
In 2021, the car show takes place on October 9th from 8 a.m. till noon.
The parade is on Friday, October 8th and begins at 6 p.m. in downtown Ellijay.
In past years, there has been a play area for children and live music. We don’t have details about this for 2021, but you can look for updates on the Apple Festival Facebook page.
The Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds is located at:
1729 South Main Street
Ellijay, Georgia 30540
Parking is very limited at the Lions Club Fairgrounds, so please use the shuttle parking lots, located at:
- Gilmer High School
- Gilmer Middle Schools
- Ellijay Elementary School
- Mountainview Elementary School
The shuttle will take you to the festival and back to your car. Shuttles begin operation a half hour before the festival opens and run at least a half hour after the festival closes.
♦ Apple Pickin’ Jubilee
The Apple Pickin’ Jubilee takes place each year over several autumn weekends, at Hillcrest Orchards in Ellijay.
In 2021, the dates have been extended, with the Jubilee happening on every weekend from September 4th to October 31st.
The hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission is $15 per person, including kids.
The list of activities and entertainment included with admission is seemingly endless:
- apple picking (purchase picking bags and fill them)
- bluegrass bands
- clogging performances
- pig races
- jumping pillow
- cow milking
- apple tree maze
- giant slides
- corn maze
- moonshine museum
- enchanted forest trail
- pedal carts
- wagon rides
- and more…
There is also a wide variety of food available at the cafe: hot dogs, burgers, barbecue sandwiches, carnival foods, and sweet treats. The farm market sells a wide variety of apple-based food products, crafts, toys, t-shirts, and more.
Hillcrest Orchards is located at:
9696 Highway 52
Ellijay, GA 30536
U-pick apple orchards
Please remember that the availability of fresh produce isn’t guaranteed. We recommend checking with the orchard before you go — please call or visit the website or Facebook page for updates on hours and apple varieties currently available.
Note that several orchards are reporting fewer apples this year, due to a late frost.
9696 Highway 52
Ellijay, GA 30536
Hillcrest Orchards is open daily in the fall of 2021 for u-pick and activities. Daily hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the orchard is open through October or until the apples are gone.
Weekday admission is $10 for limited activities that include a petting farm, wagon rides, jumping pillow, kiddie corn maze, ball zone, pig race, and playground. There is also a bakery and farm market.
Red Apple Barn
3379 Tails Creek Rd
Red Apple Barn is a pick-your-own orchard that is open every weekend from September through November — or until the apples have all been picked. Note that this orchard is reporting a smaller crop this year.
- Saturdays 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Sundays 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
- Weekdays by appointment only
There is a $9.50 admission fee per person.
It includes a tractor ride to and from the orchard, plus water, cider, and a doughnut when you’ve finished picking. Also included in the fee: rock & pumpkin painting, games, picnic areas, and playground for the kids.
There is also a farm market, a u-pick pumpkin patch, and u-pick flower fields.
Visit the website
8660 Blue Ridge Dr
Blue Ridge, Georgia
NOTE: Due to a late freeze, Mercier will NOT be offering u-pick dates in 2021. However, if you’re in the area on a weekend, you’re welcome to walk in the orchard (please be courteous!) or even have a family picnic there. You can order picnic box lunches ahead of time online.
There is a bakery and winery on site as well.
Before you go, check the Mercier u-pick page for hours and availability. The last time we checked, u-pick was not available.
Admission is $5 per person, plus the cost of the apples you pick. Children age 2 and under are free.
Prices: $8 for half peck $16 for a peck $20 for a half bushel
Preview your orchard experience:
B.J. Reece Orchards
9131 Highway 52 E
East Ellijay, Georgia
Reece Orchards is open everyday through October 30th, as long as the apples are available in 2021. Daily hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A handy picking calendar online tells you which apple varieties you can expect to be ready on which dates.
You’ll pay a small admission fee (which includes some farm fun activities) and then purchase bags that you’ll pick into. The 2021 u-pick prices are: $9 half peck bag, $16 peck bag, and a $28 half bushel bag
Admission is $2 on weekdays and that includes the the wagon ride to the orchard and the petting zoo. Age 2 and under are FREE.
Weekend admission is $5, and includes several farm activities, like cow milking and pig races. Other Farm Fun activities have an added fee — these include a petting zoo, pony rides, and zipline. View the price list.
There are also Weekend Packages that bundle up several activities and include u-pick apples.
Many varieties of apples are available at the farm market, and and there is no admission fee to shop there.
There is a gift shop and concession stand, as well as a picnic area.
Hillside Orchard Farms
18 Sorghum Mill Drive
Lakemont, GA 30552
Hillside Orchard Farms is NOT offering apple picking in 2021, due to that April freeze that affected the apple blossoms.
However, the farm market is open Monday–Friday from 10 to 5, and on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.
5340 Cornelia Hwy
Alto, GA 30510
Jaemor does not seem to be hosting apple picking in 2021.
However, they have apples for purchase at their farm market. You may also want to visit the corn maze or attend one of their special fall farm days events.
♦ Saturday 10 a.m to 5 p.m. or till picked out
♦ Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. or till picked out
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