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Riding Apple Hill

If you are a bike rider, mountain or road, you know that this is a fantastic time to ride. The temperatures have backed off a bit. We are in the last month of summer.

Come to the mountains, great time to ride.
Come to the mountains, great time to ride.Photo courtesy of J. Ferris

If one of your favorite rides is anywhere in Apple Hill, up in El Dorado County, or if you've always wanted to ride Apple Hill, this is the time to do it. Really, it is.

The apples have been ripening all summer. The orchards are looking pretty good. On Labor Day weekend, most of the orchards will open for the Apple Hill season.

What happens between now and Thanksgiving is pretty constant, year after year. The traffic, especially on the weekends will build, with a stunning number of cars slowly enjoying all those roads up there.

If you plan to ride Apple Hill, you have maybe two to three weeks to get that ride in. Your best ride times will be during the week, in the mornings.

The weekends will simply soon not be bike friendly. As the weeks roll by, the roads in Apple Hill become a slow moving parking lot.

The good people in all those cars are focused on a few things: getting to the next orchard, apple pies or anything made from apples, pumpkins, and the various artists who will be set up.

What they won't be focused on is bicycles. If you've ever been to the area during this time, you know how crowded it can be.

Cyclists should simply stay out of the area once things start to get busy. That's why you would do well to satisfy your Apple Hill ride itch now. Playing bumper tag with cars full of people looking for the next apple fritter is a losing proposition.

Your next chance, mostly free of cars, will be after Christmas. Right after the apple season is over, the Christmas tree farms open up. The result is the same. Lots of cars, lots of people, all looking for the absolutely best Christmas tree for their home.

If you decide to ride now, there are some good places to start your ride. One of the best spots is Boa Vista, on Carson Road.

If you haven't downloaded a map already, pick up one there. You'll find that the choices for where to ride are numerous. Every road is a beautiful ride. Copperton, Hassler, North Canyon, Larsen, Cable will all catch your eye.

If you want to test your legs, really test them, plan a ride that takes you up Mace. It is hard, can be painful, but you do gain some bragging rights, even if you only do it once. If you're a good climber, you'll simply enjoy it, pain and all.

Another place to start is by the Apple Blossom Coffee House on Carson Road in Camino. You can pick up a map here too.

The start here, just like at Boa Vista, has the advantage of being flat. At both places, when your ride is done, there are delicious goodies to be had. You do need to re-fuel yourself after an Apple Hill Ride. It's mandatory.

For a longer day in the saddle, start in Placerville, on the El Dorado Trail. The Ivy House parking lot sits right where this portion of the trail starts. If you know you'll be more than two hours, and that's easy to do from here, remember to buy some extra time from the parking meter.

You could also park in the dirt lot on Mosquito Road by the bus station. Either way, head east on the trail. When you get to Jacquier Road, head up hill.

It will dead end into Carson Road. Ride Carson Road up to Able's Apple Acres on Hassler. From here, you can choose any route in Apple Hill that looks good to you.

On the way back, when you get to Able's, instead of returning on Carson, take Union Ridge down to Mosquito to hook up with the El Dorado Trail again, or to get to your car in the dirt lot by the bus station.

Keep in mind that you have a very limited amount of time to do any of this. Once things really light off up in Apple Hill, your next chance really will be in winter, after Christmas.

Make plans now, ride with a buddy, remember the goodies at the end of the ride. Do it now, or prepare to bundle up for an early winter ride in Apple Hill.