Did you know that North Carolina is the 7th largest apple producing state in the USA? Or that Henderson County is the largest apple-producing county in the state of North Carolina?
There are a whopping 19 Hendersonville apple orchards, which is pretty amazing for a Blue Ridge Mountain town with a population of around 15,500 people.
Some of them date back nearly 100 years, and many offer u-pick apples. But all of them make for a great outing if you Visit Hendersonville in late summer or early autumn.
They’ve hosted the annual North Carolina Apple Festival in Hendersonville for more than 75 years now, attracting more than 250,000 visitors to the area just south of Asheville every Labor Day Weekend.
Read on for our in-depth guide to the best apple orchards in Hendersonville NC, including orchards offering apple picking, corn mazes, hayrides pumpkin patches, and more!
READ MORE: Apple Picking in North Carolina: The 15 Best NC Apple Orchards
Apple Orchards in Hendersonville NC Guide
- Freeman Orchards
- Grandad’s Apples
- Jeter Mountain Farm
- Justus Orchard
- Mountain Fresh Orchards
- Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard
- Sky Top Orchard
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1. Freeman Orchards
3016 Chimney Rock Rd, Hendersonville NC • 828-674-9733
One of the oldest apple orchards in Hendersonville NC, the family-owned Freeman Orchards was started in 1934 and has been passed down through several generations.
What separates them from other Hendersonville apple orchards is the fact that they specialize in heirloom apples, including two unique varieties developed by owner W.L. Freeman (“Carolina Crunch” and “Tuck’s Bride).
Though they do not offer u-pick options here, they do let kids pick one apple from the 50+ varieties they grow. About half of those are heirloom apples, and they had 23 different varieties available on the day we visited.
In addition to growing apples and peaches on the property, the Freeman Orchards farm market offers everything from apple butter and homemade jams to fried pies, honey, pumpkins, and an array of fresh-grown produce.
The market is open Wednesday through Sunday, 9AM to 5:30PM, from August 19 to October 30, 2022.
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2. Grandad’s Apples
2951 Chimney Rock Rd, Hendersonville NC • 828-685-1685
Opened in 1994, the family-owned Grandad’s Apples is one of the most family-friendly apple farms in Hendersonville NC we’ve visited.
Owner Pat Lancaster is a fourth generation apple farmer, with wife Leslie managing the farm market and daughters Kaylin and Kayce helping out as well (they created popular sweet treats like the Mountain Glacier Slushie).
There’s a lot of things to do with kids on Grandad’s picturesque 120-acre property. Activities include an apple cannon, cow train rides, a corn maze, a playground, picking a pre-cut pumpkin, or tasting treats from the bakery.
You can also go apple picking on select weekends, shop for locally made products (such as jams, honey, and soap), and taste samples of apple varieties we haven’t seen anywhere else in the North Carolina mountains.
Grandad’s 2022 season ends in late October, and they’re open daily from 8AM to 6PM.
READ MORE: The 25 Best Pumpkin Patches in the NC Mountains
3. Jeter Mountain Farm
1126 Jeter Mountain Rd, Hendersonville NC • 828-513-0404
One of the newest places for apple picking in Hendersonville NC, the Jeter Mountain Farm is another multi-generational family-owned business.
Originally a dairy farm in the early 1800s, the 411-acre property was converted into an farm for horseback riding. Though its usage has changed over the years, the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains remain spectacular.
The first of their 6,000 apple trees were planted in 2014, and they opened for u-pick apples in 2020. Their season lasts from mid-July to late October, with hours from 10AM-3PM Thursday and Friday, and 10AM-5PM Saturday and Sunday.
They also offer tractor rides, a farm market, hard apple ciders, apple cider donuts, an indoor play area for kids, and a BBQ food truck that rivals most of the local restaurants we’ve sampled.
The family lovingly converted the equestrian farm’s rustic buildings into one of the most elegant apple farms we’ve ever visited. This place is so photogenic, it’s transformed into a special events and wedding venue in the off-season.
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4. Justus Orchard
187 Garren Rd, Hendersonville NC • 828-974-1232
If you’re looking for a family-friendly Hendersonville apple picking experience, the Justus Orchard ranks high among the best farms in the area to visit.
Started by owner Don Justus’ great grandfather, this was the first u-pick apple farm in Hendersonville, offering apple picking since 1968. It was made famous by Don’s son Chris Justus, Chief Meteorologist for WYFF 4 in Greenville SC.
Today the 5th generation farm grows 26 types of apples on 75 acres. The property also features an animal barn (with goats, donkeys, pigs, and more), apple cannons, cow train rides, playground with “jumping pillow,” and more.
If you’re hungry, there’s a BBQ restaurant and bakery on site, serving up apple cider, apple donuts, and the best fried apple pies we’ve ever tasted. They’re made by Don’s brother-in-law, who uses 3 delicious kinds of apples.
Justus Orchards is open 9AM-5PM daily from July through early November. Check out their website for special events, including various festivals and live music by local artists.
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5. Mountain Fresh Orchards
2887 Chimney Rock Rd, Hendersonville NC • 828-435-0020
One of the oldest apple orchards in Hendersonville NC, Mountain Fresh Orchards opened in 1981 and is owned and operated by the Carland family today.
Although they don’t offer a u-pick option, this is one of the best places to buy fresh apples in Hendersonville NC. They offer 17 varieties of apples grown on their 12-acre farm, as well as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and other veggies.
What’s most impressive about Mountain Fresh Orchards is the diversity of their bakery items, including apple cider donuts, apple bread, apple pies and tarts, apple fritters and turnovers, apple caramel cake, and much more.
The shop also features specialty items such as locally made jams and preserves, homemade honeycrisp applesauce, hoop cheese, country ham, and an array of Appalachian crafts and holiday decorations.
They’re open 8AM-6PM daily, from late August through mid-November, and offer rides on the “Apple Express” train through the orchard on weekends (weather permitting).
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6. Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard
170 Stepp Orchard Dr, Hendersonville NC • 828-685-9083
Another of the oldest Hendersonville apple orchards, Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard was founded by the late J.H. Stepp (a leader in the North Carolina apple industry) and started offering u-pick apples in the 1960s.
The 105-acre farm is now run by his son Mike, wife Rita, their daughter Danielle and her husband, with their children making Stepp’s a 3-generation family-run business.
Surrounded by the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, the 40-acre orchard features 26 apple varieties, a huge pumpkin patch, and fields of pick-your-own grapes, sunflowers, tulips, and zinnias.
On weekends you can take a wagon ride through the orchard, navigate the 5-acre corn maze, or try hitting a target with the apple cannons. There’s also a covered picnic area, and a bakery offering delicious apple cider and pumpkin donuts.
Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard is open for visitors through the end of October. Their hours are 9AM-5:30PM Monday to Thursday, 9AM-6PM on Friday and Saturday, and 10AM-6PM on Sunday.
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7. Sky Top Orchard
1193 Pinnacle Mountain Rd, Flat Rock NC • 828-692-7930
Located in the small town of Flat Rock (which is technically a village), Sky Top Orchard is our favorite of the various apple orchards near Hendersonville NC.
Founded in the late 1960s by Everette Butler, and now run by son David and his wife, Lindsey, this is one of the oldest u-pick apple farms in Henderson County. They grow nearly 30 varieties of apples.
Surrounded by beautiful North Carolina mountains, the 70+ acre farm is packed with u-pick apples, cherries, grapes, and pears. The orchard’s rows are helpfully labeled so you’ll know which varieties are ripe and juicy for picking.
This is a great place for families, with a full bakery, apple cannons, animals in the barnyard, tractor-pulled hayrides, gem mining, and lots of other fun activities.
Sky Top Orchard is open from early summer (once the sour cherries ripen) until the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Their daily hours are 9AM-5PM until Labor Day Weekend; 9AM-6PM until Daylight Savings Time ends; then 9AM- 5PM again until they close for the season. –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett