With fall just days away, it’s not time to start hibernating for winter yet. Fall provides loads of outdoor activities! Everyone knows about the usual suspects—Halloween, pumpkins, corn mazes—but harvest time seems to get overlooked in the suburbs.
By Matt Basheda
With fall just days away, it’s not time to start hibernating for winter yet. Fall provides loads of outdoor activities! Everyone knows about the usual suspects—Halloween, pumpkins, corn mazes—but harvest time seems to get overlooked in the suburbs. Traditionally, fall means harvesting all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Instead of just visiting the same old pumpkin patches this fall, get out into the open air for a day at one of these orchards.
Crooked Run Orchard is a truly local farm. The orchard sits in a woodsy corner of Purcellville along Crooked Run, a small but scenic tributary of Goose Creek. The orchard is family owned. Moreover, the owners allow no driving on the property, other than a parking lot up front, so disruptions are few. Crooked Run Orchard is easy to get to as it is directly off Business Route 7. Apples are the primary fall fruit at this orchard, along with pumpkins and gourds. Holiday wreaths are also available for purchase in November and December. Crooked Run Orchard is a stop on the Loudoun County Fall Farm Color Tour, taking place this year on Oct. 15 and 16.
Crooked Run Orchard
37883 East Main Street, Purcellville
Travel Distance From Fairfax: 40 miles; 50 minutes
• Picnic tables
• Farm stand
• Hayrides on weekends
This Winchester orchard features a dozen different kinds of apples! You can pick your own apples, winter squash and pumpkins through October. The orchard has a country aesthetic, complete with porch rocking chairs at the front of their market. Think Cracker Barrel, but more authentic. The market carries many seasonal fruits and vegetables from around the area, so the market’s selection is bigger than what you can pick at the orchard. Baked goods, jellies and ciders are all available as well. The market also carries fruit wines from the Peaks of Otter Winery in Bedford, Va. What sets Marker-Miller apart from others is its sweets shop. You can get 12 different types of homemade fudge and eight types of hand-dipped ice cream. However, the market is only open on Sundays throughout September and October. It opens up again Monday through Saturday in November.
Marker-Miller Orchards Farm Market and Bakery
3035 Cedar Creek Grade, Winchester
Travel Distance From Fairfax: 76 miles; 1 hour, 20 minutes
• Large playground
• Wagon rides every weekend
• Hot food every weekend
• Several picnic areas
If you want to take a slightly bigger step away from it all, head north up Route 15 to Catoctin Mountain Orchard in Thurmont, Md., about 25 miles north of Frederick, Md. Or stop by on your way further north. Route 15 is a lovely alternate route to any Northeast destination. The drive runs through shockingly bucolic country. And as if the journey wasn’t scenic enough, Catoctin Mountain Orchard spreads out in wide, golden hills brimming with solitude. They offer pick-your-own fruits according to the season. And to give visitors even more options, the orchard offers a flower garden through October. Anyone can pick their own fresh flowers. The orchard has a fairly huge store on the premises, chock full of pies, cakes, cookies and breads, all freshly baked. And if you don’t feel like picking yourself or have limited time, you can buy any seasonal produce the orchard grows. The website offers about 70 recipes for all seasons. Dishes range from salads to baked goods to dinner ideas.
Catoctin Mountain Orchard
15036 North Franklinville Road, Thurmont, MD, 21788
Travel Distance From Fairfax: 69 miles; 1 hour, 30 minutes
• Cozy Restaurant and Inn [www.cozyvillage.com]
• Cunningham Falls State Park [www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/western/cunninghamfalls.html]
• Shamrock Restaurant [www.shamrockrestaurant.com]
• Catoctin Wildlife Preserve Zoo [www.cwpzoo.com]