Maine is known for its rocky coast and proximity to the ocean, but travel a few miles inland and you'll find no shortage of rolling countryside and serene apple orchards. If you've already explored the beaches and coastline of the state, take a drive through the idyllic Maine countryside. Such drives are perfect and calming weekend excursions and reveal a different side of Maine: the silent, robustly green countryside of a state with a diversity of natural landscapes.
The Pleasures of Fall - Nearby Apple Orchards
Apple orchards thrive here in Maine and are best visited during the fall months when apples are ripe for the picking. A trip to any of these orchards give visitors the opportunity to view the gorgeous Maine foliage, the reds, yellows and oranges decorating the trees. The rush of color is memorable, and it's worth making the trip to any of the orchards to view this once-a-year and short-lived fall iridescence that lines the backcountry roads.
Most of the orchards are located outside of Portland and require a short (or long) drive. Visit Hansel's Orchard
in North Yarmouth, (about a 30 minute drive from Portland), to pick your own McIntosh and Cortland Apples. If you're feeling a bit lazy, you can always purchase apples by the bag and skip the hand-picking (most orchards offer picked apples in paper bags for those who aren't feeling like picking themselves). If you do feel like picking, you can choose a basket size (measured by bushels and pecks), and venture out into the colorful orchard.
Brackett's OrchardBrackett's Orchard
, located in Limington, about 40 minutes from Portland, is one of Maine's oldest family orchards. This orchard isn't just about apples and apple picking; visit on the weekends in September and October for a hayride through the hillside and buy a pumpkin for Halloween while you're at it. During the fall season, many of the orchards in Maine offer pumpkins of all sizes and shapes for carving. Try the cider if you're thirsty from all the picking. Maine cider, made from Maine apples, is a reason in itself to visit the state; the refreshing, cold drink tastes like fall in all its fresh, crisp glory.
Ricker Hill Orchard Ricker Hill Orchards
, located about an hour away in Turner, Maine, is your orchard for family fun. Complete with a farm and farm animals for viewing and petting, and a country store and bakery (with delicious donuts, pies, fudge and Maine-made jams), this is the perfect weekend excursion for the whole family and is quintessentially Maine. Tours are available throughout the day that provide a great way of perusing the farm and not missing all it has to offer.
So don't wait to tour these orchards; fall doesn't last for very long in Maine and has been said by many to be the most beautiful time of year in the state. So grab your overalls, plaid shirt and gloves and begin your apple picking adventure. When you're done, plop down in the grass and enjoy the fruits of your labor; the first bite is always the best - indescribably juicy and refreshing.
by Heather Clarke