Apple-picking spots in the Hudson Valley

The 2012 Barton Orchards Harvest Kickoff in Poughquag

The 2012 Barton Orchards Harvest Kickoff in Poughquag features pick-your-own apples, fireworks, a corn maze and live music. (Sept. 2, 2012) (Credit: Lisa Weir)

Summer day trips get all the glory, but honestly? We'll take a crisp September day spent apple picking over a sweaty August beach day anytime.

Luckily, there are plenty of orchards in Westchester, Rockland and the Hudson Valley where you can pick some of the season's freshest apples (and sometimes other fruits and vegetables, too). From hayrides to petting zoos to corn mazes and more, most apple-picking spots also offer some additional entertainment for kids and adults alike.

This year, early birds will be rewarded. Thanks to a recent frost, New York State orchards are seeing a smaller-than-usual crop of apples.

"A lighter crop just means orchards get picked out early," says Norman Greig, owner of Greig Farm in Red Hook. "If people come at the end of October for apples, they won't find any."

Here are nine nearby locations to visit (early) this fall.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY

Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard

In addition to growing seven different types of apples and three different types of pears, this family-run spot (also known as Outhouse Orchards) offers plenty of activities for kids. There are cattle, goats, bunnies, chickens, turkeys, alpaca and pony rides, plus hayrides and live music on the weekends through Halloween. There's also a large farm stand selling homemade fudge, baked goods, fresh eggs, produce and grass-fed beef. Customers can take their pick from a large pumpkin patch, so you may want to sharpen up those jack-o'-lantern carving skills now.

Info: 130 Hardscrabble Rd., North Salem; 914-485-1210; harvestmoonfarmandorchard.com; $25 for a half-bushel bag

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Stuart's Farm

Opened in 1828, this orchard -- the oldest in Westchester -- features more than 200 acres of apple trees, pumpkin fields and vegetable crops. And there's a bit of history everywhere -- the farmhouse, circa 1760, is still being lived in (though it's been fully renovated), and the barn, built in 1886, serves as the fruit and produce stand, where apples are sold alongside homegrown tomatoes, squash and pumpkins (pumpkin picking starts in October). For those who want to pick their own apples, the farm offers about a dozen varieties. In September, Macintosh, Cortlands and Macouns are available. In October, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Empire, Mutsu, Jonagold, Ida Red, Northern Spy, Black twig, Baldwins and Stuart's Surprise are ripe for the picking. The farm also offers hayrides on weekends, and there's an on-premise bakery that sells apple cider doughnuts, scones, muffins and pie.

Info: 62 Granite Springs Rd., Granite Springs; 914-245-2784; stuartsfarm.com; $25 for a half-bushel

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm

Guests at Wilkens can walk to the week's picking orchard, or, on Fridays through Sundays, ride a hay wagon there. Bags and baskets are available, as are picking poles, perfect for reaching high branches. Fourteen types of apples grow at different times of the season and pumpkin picking starts at the end of September. After that, Christmas trees are available for the cutting starting the weekend after Thanksgiving (each tree comes with a free cup of hot apple cider). The farm's bakeshop sells pies, apple-cider doughnuts, cider, lollipops, fudge, brittle and candy sticks. Savory snacks like hot dogs and popcorn are also available.

Info: 1335 White Hill Rd., Yorktown Heights; 914-245-5111; www.wilkensfarm.com; $18 for a peck-size bag, $28 for a half-bushel

Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily

ROCKLAND COUNTY

The Orchards of Concklin

First, a little history: This farm has been open since 1712, and was founded by the Concklin Family, who came to America from England during the 17th century. Now, visitors head to this spot for apple and pumpkin picking (later in the season), a giant slide and several bouncers, including a bouncy haunted house. The farm market sells apples, produce and baked goods.

Info: 2 South Mountain Rd., Pomona; 845-354-0369; www.theorchardsofconcklin.com; $18 per peck bag

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends only

Dr. Davies Farm

This 35-acre orchard is home to 4,000 trees and is particularly popular with school groups during the week. On weekends, the farm offers tractor hayrides, some of which drop you off at the pumpkin patch. The farm stands have a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with homemade fresh pressed cider. Note: Dr. Davies is cash only.

Info: 306 Route 304, Congers; 845-268-7020; www.drdaviesfarm.com; $37 for a 25-pound bag

Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily

HUDSON VALLEY

Barton Orchards

In addition to 25 apple varieties available for the picking, this orchard's got tons of stuff for the kids. On weekdays, kiddies can access a playground and a petting zoo with goats, pigs, rabbits, alpaca and more. On the weekends, the orchard also opens its five-acre corn maze and offers hayrides, gemstone mining, live music, a haunted house and a family theme park with all kinds of mazes.

Info: 63 Apple Tree Lane, Poughquag; 845-227-2306; bartonorchards.com; $3 admission for petting zoo and hayrides; $15 premium admission includes all activities but apple picking; kids under 6 are free; apple picking is charged by the pound

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Kelder's Farm

You'll know you've arrived at Kelder's when you see a huge garden gnome greeting you at its entrance. What differentiates Kelder's from other farms is that offerings go way beyond apples. Guests can pick vegetables, like sweet corn, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, plus herbs and other fruits. There's also a petting zoo, corn maze and hayrides, plus a couple of unique features, like an artist-designed farm-themed (and edible) mini-golf course. Another cool feature: a 50-foot-by-30-foot jumping pillow.

Info: 5755 Rte 209, Kerhonksen; 845-626-7137; kelderfarm.com; $1.50 per pound for apples, $1.40 per pound for most other produce; $5 to access the jumping pillow; $3.50 for the corn maze; $3.75 for miniature golf

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, closed Tuesdays

Applewood Orchards and Winery

Finally an orchard with a serious perk for the parents -- an on-site winery features hard apple cider and tastings of wines made from New York State grapes. But back to the apples. Guests can pick from eight or nine varieties; go for the pumpkin patch, too, which opens in October. On weekends, kids can enjoy puppet shows, music and wagon rides. The place is known for apple cider doughnuts. Hot soups, hot dogs, and chili are also available.

Note: The Warwick Applefest (warwickapplefest.com) takes place Sunday, Oct. 14 and features craft vendors, food vendors and a famous apple pie baking contest.

Info: 82 Four Corners Rd, Warwick; 845-986-1684; applewoodorchards.com; $28 for a half-bushel, $14 for a peck

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Greig Farm

Visitors to Greig Farm can pick their own apples, red and yellow raspberries. In addition to fruit, this farm offers stunning views of the Catskill Mountains. There are also 25 acres of carving pumpkins and sugar pumpkins. There's a petting area where kids can get up close and personal with some goats, a dock overlooking a koi pond, and a garden shop and restaurant on the premises. Gigi Market, open Tuesday through Sunday, features salads, frittatas, focaccia and signature Panini, known as Skizzas, all made with local ingredients.

Info: 223 Pitcher Lane, Red Hook; 845-758-1234; greigfarm.com; $25 for a half-bushel of apples (or $1.39 per pound); $5 per pound of raspberries

Hours: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. daily

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