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A Guide to Apple Picking in the North Georgia Mountains

Take a day trip to these apple farms and orchards just a short drive from Atlanta

Mercier Orchards

Few activities conjure images of a fall day than picking a bushel of apples in an orchard on a farm in the north Georgia mountains or southern Appalachian foothills.

The northwest Georgia town of Ellijay is famous for its apple farms and fall festivals, with legacies dating back to the early part of the 20th century. While the apple capital of Georgia does have the highest concentration of apple farms in the state, there are also great farms to be found across other parts of north Georgia, and even into northwest South Carolina.

Georgia’s apple season typically runs from mid-August through November, peaking between September and mid-October. Many farms in the mountains offer U-pick options, allowing people to head into the orchards and pick apples straight from the trees. It’s best to call ahead to inquire about the apple supply and what’s currently in season at each farm. Most orchards also include a farm store filled with bushels of freshly picked apples, along with apple cider, jams and preserves, and apple cider doughnuts and other baked goods.

Here are eight orchards for U-pick apples in the North Georgia Mountains, just a short drive from Atlanta.

Chattooga Belle Farm — Long Creek, SC

A hand holding up three granny smith apples in front of the apple orchard Chattooga Bell Farm

Just a two-hour drive to the state line, this South Carolina farm includes multiple varieties of apples to pick in its orchard, along with pears, figs, and muscadines. During the summer months, Chattooga Belle Farms also offers berries and peaches for picking. Stick around the farm for lunch on expansive patio at the farm restaurant with sweeping views of the orchards and mountains beyond it. Afterwards, drive around the corner to the micro-distillery for brandy, gin, whiskey, and vodka made from the farm’s muscadines and apples. A tasting flight here features all of the distillery’s products and often comes with plenty of stories from the distiller himself. Head out to the covered porch or the fire pit to enjoy. Make sure to pop over to the field next door to check out the farm’s llamas and Boer goats. Check out the U-pick schedule. Follow on Facebook for updates.

Bryson’s Apple Orchard — Mountain Rest, SC

A bunch of dusty red speckled apples ready to be picked from a tree in an orchard Bryson’s Apple Orchard

Located three miles from the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River, and two hours northeast of Atlanta, Bryson’s Apple Orchard offers U-pick and WE-pick options. Open daily, the orchard store also sells hand-pressed ciders, jellies, jams, honey from the farm’s beehives, and sorghum syrup. Bryson’s and the surrounding area feature South Carolina’s largest concentration of waterfalls and hiking trails. Follow on Facebook for updates.

Hillside Orchard Farm — Lakemont, GA

Bins filled with Honeycrisp, Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples in a country orchard market Hillside Orchard Farms

This northeast Georgia farm, just over an hour north of Atlanta, features apple picking, a farm bakery, and playgrounds and games for the kids. There’s even a farm train ride on the weekends and a corn maize. Adventurous kids will also enjoy stopping by the gem mine and hanging out with Miner Jim and Donkey or jumping onto a classic farm hayride. Hillside Orchard includes a full farmstead store filled with freshly picked apples, local jams and jellies, vinegars, and sauces. U-pick is also available, which is limited for apples this year due to the late-spring freeze. Follow on Facebook for updates.

Mercier Orchards — Blue Ridge, GA

Mercier Orchards

A little under two hours from Atlanta, Mercier Orchards might be north Georgia’s most famous (and most popular) apple farm to visit in the fall. U-pick apples and tractor rides on the farm are both back again this year. Head over to the farm store to purchase bushels of freshly picked apples, baked goods like hand pies and apple cider doughnuts, and hard cider. Grab lunch in the cafe or pop into the town of Blue Ridge for lunch or dinner. Check out the U-pick schedule. When the farm runs out of ripe fruit to pick on the trees, it still offers tractor tours of the fields.

B.J. Reece Orchards — Ellijay, GA

Bright pink red apples on a leafy green apple tree in an orchard B.J. Reece Family Orchards

Less than two hours from Atlanta, the apples at Reece Family Orchards are crisp and ready for picking. With over 20 different varieties ripening during September and October, there are always apples to pick throughout the fall. Grab a few bags to load up on U-pick apples in the orchard. Weekend trips to the farm include activities like milking cows, a petting zoo, shooting apples from an apple cannon, and even pig races. Check out the U-pick schedule and calendar of apples available in the orchards.

Hillcrest Orchards and Farms — Ellijay, GA

A hand holding a bright red apple still on a branch of a tree Hillcrest Orchards and Farms
A plump red and green apple jutting out from a leafy branch on an apple tree Hillcrest Orchards and Farms

Just two hours north of Atlanta, Hillcrest Orchards offers pre-sized bags for purchase to fill with apples from the orchards. Visit on the weekend to take part in the Apple Pickin’ Jubilee, which features U-pick, an apple tree maze, wagon rides, giant slides, mini golf, and duck racing. Try milking a cow or watch the pig races for some extra down-home fun at this farm. There’s a petting zoo, too. Visit the farm market and bakery to purchase bushels of apples, fresh apple cider, local honey and jams, and apple pies and fritters. Follow on Facebook for updates.

Red Apple Barn — Ellijay, GA

Six apples of varying sizes and varieties showcase sitting in a the bottom of a wooden baseket on a a wooden chair
Honeycrisp, Mutzu, Jonagold, Gala, September Wonder, and Golden Supreme apples
Red Apple Barn

This Ellijay far offers U-pick apples and flowers on the weekends throughout the fall and pumpkins of all sizes in late-September and October. It’s an easy two-hour drive from Atlanta. Take a tractor ride around the farm, sip on apple cider and enjoy an apple cider doughnut, play some games, and enjoy a fall day picking apples in the mountains. Check out the U-pick schedule. Follow on Facebook for updates.

The Folk Collaborative — McCaysville, Georgia

A crate filled with freshly picked apples sits beneath towering oak trees on the The Folk Collaborative farm in McCaysville, GA. The Folk Collaborative
A fried blueberry and apple pie from The Folk Collaborative in McCaysville, GA. The Folk Collaborative

Located in Fannin County in the town of McCaysville, bordering Georgia and Tennessee, the Folk Collaborative farm and orchard prides itself on family and Appalachian traditions. Recipes, seeds for produce and fruit grown on the farm, and items and baked goods sold in the shop come from the family who owns the farm or local community members and artists. Head up for U-pick apples and wagon rides around the farm on a pleasant fall day. Afterwards, enjoy a fried hand pie and apple cider doughnuts from the bakery with a cup of fresh coffee or a latte. Check out the apple calendar and U-pick schedule.

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