Photographs courtesy Karnes Orchard
For any good Midwesterner, the arrival of fall is heralded with bonfires, pumpkin-flavored everything, candy corn, and—if you’re lucky—a visit to a local farm for apple picking and fresh-pressed cider. Take an afternoon and head out to one of these three orchards to sample some of this harvest’s best.
In Hillsboro, Ohio, Karnes Orchard is just an hour and a half east of Cincinnati. The first tree was planted by Joseph Karnes, Jr. in 1876, and though the farm has been owned by Karnes family members ever since, the property has been dormant for the past 20 years. Steve Karnes—the founder’s great, great grandson—reopened the farm for business for just one day in September 2013, and now, one year later, celebrated a grand opening on September 6. Visitors can stop by any Saturday between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. through November 22 to pick from more than 30 varieties of apples. The on-property market offers pumpkins, gourds, and fresh apple cider, and families are encouraged to pack a picnic and to dine on the beautiful orchard grounds. If interested in getting a behind-the-scenes look, call ahead to schedule a tour with one of the Karnes’ knowledgeable family members. Karnes Orchard, 8200 Worley Mill Rd., Hillsboro, Ohio, (740) 239-3007, karnesorchard.com
Brumbaugh Fruit and Fun Farm
Take the hour and a half drive north to Arcanum to Brumbaugh, and both fruit and fun are promised upon arrival with apples, peaches, and pears—plus the wide array of family-friendly activities available. Visitors are welcome on Saturdays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays noon to 7 p.m. to take the Johnny Appleseed Hiking Trail through the orchard to get a glance at all the apple varieties, meet and greet the farm animals at the Enchanter Goat Fort, and visit the Fruit of the Room to see how the apples are graded and pressed into cider. Brumbaugh Fruit and Fun Farm, 6420 Arcanum-Hollansburg Rd., Arcanum, Ohio, (937) 692-8084, brumbaughfruitfarm.com
It’s a three-hour hike northwest to Peru, Indiana, to get to McClure’s Orchard. Visit the Apple Barn to see the apples be washed, sorted, and pressed into cider, and grab a couple jars of jam and honey made on site. Make some friends at the Animal Barn where you’ll find donkeys, goats, rabbits, cats, and turkeys, and you can even take one of the farm’s horses for a spin. The Apple Dumplin’ Inn offers soups and sandwiches (served with applesauce on the side, of course) and apple pastries as well as McClure’s finest hard ciders and wine, including their award-winning Granny’s Bourbon Barrel Aged, Uncle Billy’s, and Farmhouse ciders. McClure’s Orchard, 5450 North US 31, Peru, Indiana, (765) 985-9000, mccluresorchard.com