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The Historic Orchard at Altapass


How 'bout them Apples?

We try to post each Thursday morning any ripening updates in the orchard. For the latest on U-Pick, please call 828-765-9531 before venturing out. Remember we are an heirloom apple orchard. Our mission is to save the good stuff...including apple varieties. In addition to trees that fruit during the normal late September/October season in greater quantity, also we plant small batch numbers of heirloom apple trees. Some ripen earlier (an unexpected gift); all have their uses from apple sauce, to butters, to juice and ciders, and just fresh eating off the trees. They won't all be available all the time. But, when they are, we'll let you know. Please come and see for yourself.

Even though we're all tired of the regulations dictating our activities, we all want to be safe and want the same for everyone with whom we come in contact. We encourage social interaction but maintaining a 6' physical distance is required. Masks are worn by all staff and required by all visitors (while inside the barn), gloves for staff, distancing markers, and sanitizer required before entering the store and recommended as you leave. Happy pets are permitted inside on a leash (no mask required). Bill is on premises telling tales and entertaining visitors.

The trails are open, and a revised map  installed, but please respect distancing with other walkers.

We hope that all of the above will come to an end soon, but in the interim, the health and safety of our staff and our visitors are our only concern in our decision making. The apple trees are still thriving and ripening. No matter what the climate of the planet, they're getting ready for pickin' as usual.

If you would like to purchase something from the store and have it shipped directly to you, or want to order it ahead of time, just call Alicia at 828-765-9531 Wednesday through Sunday from 10AM to 5PM.

Welcome to the Orchard at Altapass, one of the most visited locations on the Blue Ridge Parkway. For the last quarter century, we have diligently worked to "save the good stuff"—the regional traditions, culture, and the land on which all was built. We're accomplishing that by propagating the best heirloom apples possible (with the least amount of chemicals) and hosting activities for all ages that educate and entertain.

We invite you to come for a visit. You don't want to leave without a walk through the apple "forest." Bring your appetites for the hot apple pie alamode with hand-scooped ice cream. Pick your own apples or purchase them in our General Store (in season). Return to a simpler time for an hour or an afternoon at the family- (and pet-) friendly Orchard At Altapass.

Performances Update

Given the uncertainty of the near future and after much deliberation, we regretably have decided that in fairness to both musicians and the abreviated Orchard staff and for the safety of all, to cancel previously scheduled performances through the end of season. We know how important music is to our culture, our history and are currently working on alternatives that will satisfy all. We ask for your patience while we continue to "Save the good stuff" one day at a time. Thanks.

Back in the early 1900s the Clinchfield Railroad stopped on its newly laid route from Kentucky to South Carolina and planted an orchard at what is now know as Altapass. To recognize their contribution to the existence of the Orchard at Altapass today, we are collaborating with the Toe River Model Railroad Club to construct a miniature railroad representation (48 times smaller than a real train) of the Orchard that will “track” in the red barn (train whistle included). The project will be ongoing as there is always room for another car, another apple tree. Currently, the design is for a 16' oval replica of the track and orchard land in the mid 1900s. A model Clinchfield train will run the track passing in front of the tiny red barn, disappear inside the tunnel and reappear at the other end. If you would like to be a part of the Clinchfield/Orchard Project, please email the executive director, Beth Hilton. Members of the Model Railroad Club will be working on construction Wednesdays through the remainder of the season. Come and watch as it slowly chugs along. 

We are also planning a “Creating a Miniature Apple Tree” workshop for children. Dates and times to be. The real-size Orchard is over 40 acres. Even miniaturized, that’s a lot of apple trees.


Bill and Judy Carson and Kit Carson-Trubey founded the Orchard at Altapass in 1994. Please listen to Bill as he relates how it came to be, why and why it's important. Take a bite into the Orchard—just an appetizer for the whole pie.


In 2011, TED Talks asked Bill Carson to tell his story—how he became involved with apples, traditional music, and the preservation of a culture and heritage of the Altapass region along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Our Mission

The mission of the Altapass Foundation, Inc. is to preserve the history, heritage and culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains; protect the underlying orchard land with its apples, wetlands, butterflies, and other natural features; and educate the public about the Appalachian experience. Altapass Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public non-profit and depends on the generosity of donors to fund programs that support this mission. Click here for information about becoming a member or to make a special donation.

The 2019 Orchard at Altapass Annual Report is now available online.

Help us support our staff and our farm during these times of indecision and uncertainty. Just click to go to GoFundMe. Please take a look at what one of our board members wrote, then donate. Any amount. It all adds up. Thank you.

Local Weather

While you're visiting us, take a beautiful and relaxing hike through our many Orchard Trails and unwind!

Altapass Foundation Sponsors & Partners


1025 Orchard Road

Spruce Pine, NC 28777

Blue Ridge Parkway
(mile marker 328.3)



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2020 HOURS

Thru NOV 1
10 AM to 5 PM
(Currently no live music)

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