Nothing says fall quite like fresh-off-the-tree apples. Sure, there's still a bounty of Utah-grown apples at local farmers' markets. But to really savor the best of autumn, grab the entire clan for a few hours of apple picking at Huber Grove in Wasatch Mountain State Park. Every Saturday and Sunday from Aug. 19 to Sept. 16, the public is invited to pluck the scrumptious fruit straight from these ancient trees in pastoral Midway.
No, these apples can't just be snapped up at the local grocery store. The Huber Grove trees produce two varieties of organic heirlooms: Yellow Transparent and Red Astrachan. The Yellow Transparent have a sweet flavor while the Red Astrachan are more tart, making them perfect for baking pies or cobbler. Both, of course, are also great for snacking.
What's most interesting about Huber Grove is the age of its trees. Planted in 1885 by Swiss immigrants Johannes Huber and his wife Maria, the orchard is one of the first in the valley; the 80 or so trees (out of the original 350) that still stand are now more than 130 years old. Typically, apple trees only produce fruit for roughly 15 years; but, year after year, the trees at Huber Grove continue to produce the crispy, delicious Yellow Transparent and Red Astrachan apples. No one can say for sure why the trees still bear fruit, but it may have something to do with the long, cold winters of the Heber Valley.
While picking apples, take a tour of the Hubers' farmhouse and creamery, the only two buildings that remain of their original homestead. Artifacts from the family and interpretive signs around the historic area, a number of which feature text originally written by Johannes Huber, offer a glimpse at early pioneer life in Utah. Although apple trees are scattered throughout the valley (thanks to the Hubers' habit of gifting saplings to newlyweds), apple picking opportunities are rare in these parts.
So, plan ahead for the adventure. Each two-hour apple picking slot costs $20 (make a reservation here); and is good for a group of up to 8 people, ages 10 and older (extra pint-sized apple pickers are allowed). Each group may fill 2 baskets. Remember to pack a lunch to enjoy in the shady picnic area, once your work is done -- and bring your own bag to carry your harvest home.