by WYNNE LOVE

While the weather in North County may say summer, the apple trees in Julian are whistling fall, and the u-pick orchards are in full swing. Head east on Highway 78 for about an hour, and you’ll find yourself in the mountain town of Julian, an official California Historical Landmark. The clear, crisp mountain air supports the apple crop and this year, the yield is high.

“The apple trees are completely full,” said Arnie of Apple Starr Orchards. He began welcoming apple pickers the first week of September and expects to host more through the end of October. He grows five varieties including Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Jonagold, and Red Delicious.

Just a handful of Julian orchards still welcome apple pickers, for a fee. Most are open daily, but be sure to call ahead and make an appointment. Since the owners are busy tending the crop, they are not always available, in their office or by the phone, but we had good luck reaching a few.

Apples and Art Orchards provides apple picking with a tour of the orchard for groups of ten or more as well as the opportunity to make and taste fresh cider from their pesticide-free apples. Raven Hill Orchard also welcomes pickers to their 8,000 acre orchard where you’re likely to see some of owner Patrick Brady’s unique sculptures as well.

Can’t get enough apple fun? The Julian Apple Days Festival will be held at the Menghini Winery the weekend of October 6-7.

Appled out? The Julian Mining Company doesn’t offer apple-picking, but they do invite you to choose a pumpkin out of the patch and participate in a wide variety of kid-friendly activities like hayrides, panning for gold, and candle dipping, to name a few.

Bring home your ready-made treats with a stop at Mom’s Pie’s, the Julian Pie Company, or Dudley’s Bakery on your way home.