Ranch Life and Apples…A Birthday Getaway

I love fall.  I love the crisp mornings, the falling leaves, and cozy feeling of scarf around my neck.  I am lucky that my birthday lands right in the midst of my favorite season.  A couple months ago I began to hear about the Apple Hill Region of Northern California, just east of Placerville in the Sierra Foothills.   An area of over 50 farms and ranches; it is a blend of apple orchards, fruit growers, christmas tree farms, and wineries.

Apple picking is THE quintessential fall outing that I hadn’t enjoyed in years. Unfortunately, it felt like it was just a bit too far to do a day trip with 2 small children. So when I started to think about how I wanted to celebrate my birthday in late October, the idea of spending a couple of nights in area during my favorite time of year seemed perfect.

I was able to find a great house for rent through; a 2 bedroom cottage on a 42-acre ranch, complete with horses, sheep, and chickens. We were south of the Apple Hill region by about 30 minutes in the heart of Amador County, outside a tiny town called Fiddletown. It is an area I had not been to before, the heart of Gold Country, and it was such a lovely and quiet place to be. It is dotted with small towns such as Plymouth, Sutter Creek, and Amador City, to name a few. Most of these old gold mining towns still center around rambling Main Streets that hold a charm of a time long ago. Few tourists, kind and welcoming merchants, and beautiful weather came together to give us a much needed 48-hour respite.

Wheels and firehouse


Fiddletown Windows





Staying on the ranch turned out to be such a wonderful experience for all of us. The kids were able to visit the sheep and chickens every morning as the sun came up. I was able to wander the property, enjoy the sunrise, and watch deer and wild turkeys get a start to their day. Our hosts were so accommodating, leaving us a bowl of eggs and a bottle of Barbera, made from the small vineyard on their property. Ranch life in a region steeped in California history sure left us considering, “WHAT IF”? A pile of rusted relics and a depression in the rocks outside our gate left by Native Americans, likely from grinding acorns, reminded us that we were not the first, nor the last, to enjoy this land.





Acorn Hole

bucket and rails


Hill Pinecones

Door and chicken

Gate and Horses

Sheep and pond




Molly Purple Flowers

We spent our one full day in Apple Hill.  I was ready to go; I had advice from friends and fellow bloggers, and the “Apple Hill App” fired up on my phone.  On our 1st stop I was dealt bad news: the you-pick apples had come to an end early in the region, a couple weeks prior, due to a short season.  After about 30 minutes of extreme disappointment and reassessing our plans, we decided to make the most of it and visit several orchards.  We drank fresh apple cider in the wooded picnic area at Bolster’s Hilltop Ranch.  We ate homemade corn dogs and hot apple cider donuts at Rainbow Orchards.  We watched cows eat pumpkins for lunch.  We sat on the beautiful hillside outside Kids Inc., while Jake and I enjoyed a bottle of their hard cider.  We visited the family farm animals; while Jake & Alex went through the corn maze, Molly and I snuck down and picked the remaining grapes off the vines to eat, until our hands were sticky from finger to finger.  We bought bags of all different sorts of apples, and topped it all off with a small apple pie to take back to the ranch to enjoy later in the evening.  It turned out to be a lovely experience, and even though I didn’t get to trudge through the orchards and pick my own apples to earn all that I indulged in, I think my 39 years earned me these few.

Cider Mill and Alex

Alex Donuts



Cows Pumpkins

Apple Barn and Building



Vine and Ladder

Alex On Hill


Corn Maze





We hope to make this an annual tradition, and I encourage you to visit Apple Hill and make it yours too.

You can find out more information about Apple Hill as well as Amador County in the links below.

Official Apple Hill Website,

I found inspiration for our trip from fellow blogger Ashley Muir Bruhn of Hither & Thither.  Here is her most recent post.

We missed this post by just a few days, featured on Hither & Thither by fellow blogger Heather Palmer of Farm Tots, it is a great resource for some of the top things to do in Apple Hill.

If you are looking to visit Amador County, their tourism page has lots of information.  You may also find helpful if you are interested in visiting wineries in the area.

If beer is your preferred beverage, we had a really nice experience at Amador Brewing Company in Plymouth.  Here is the link to their Facebook Page for more information.



Photo Credit: All photos by Adrienne Schell

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  • Reply Jenna November 8, 2015 at 8:57 am

    What a fun place to stay! I’d love to know more about the property you stayed on. Any chance you could share the link (or the name of the property)?
    We just went to Apple Hill yesterday, and it was too crowded for my taste, but still very fun and pretty. We missed out on the donuts from Rainbow Orchards because the line wrapped around the displays inside the barn, and my kids were not up for a long, noisy wait. However, we did apple picking at 24Carrot Farm. Very quiet and pretty–it was definitely the highlight. Try them next time for u-pick apples.

    • Reply oaklandmomma November 8, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      I Jenna – I will shoot you an email with the link to the place we stayed, it was through airbnb. So sorry it was so crowded, my husband took Thursday and Friday off work so we could try to avoid the weekend craziness and I think that was helpful. Still people around but it wasn’t overwhelming. Glad you found apples to pick! I had just taken the word of someone who worked at the 1st farm we stopped at.

  • Reply Ashley Muir Bruhn November 5, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Looked like a great birthday celebration! Love that you stayed in the area rather than visiting on a day trip. I’m sorry the guide from Farmtots was a few days late for you. Thank you for the kind words! And happy belated birthday!

    • Reply oaklandmomma November 5, 2015 at 11:36 am

      Thanks Ashley! We will be returning next year for sure :o)

  • Reply Heather Palmer November 4, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    That farm you stayed on! We try to visit those cute towns as often as possible even if it’s just for a country drive and coffee stop. Hope you can come out and visit again! If you need suggestions for the next trip you know where to find us!

    • Reply oaklandmomma November 4, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Heather! We had such a nice time, it’s a lovely area, we will be back for sure :o)

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