A 501(c)3 Non-Profit

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Often during the early months of our season, people ask, "Where are all the apples?" Apples grow and ripen on a fairly strict schedule; however, it's all weather dependent. 2018 was disasterous due to a late freeze. 2019, hot, dry and about 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. So if you're visiting early in the season (May-late June), don't expect to see crates of apples, or even be able to pick anything just yet. Although we are hoping for a moderate 2020 spring, Mother Nature is a strict and sometimes fickle old lady and doesn't make exceptions. If you aren't certain when your favorite apple will be ready for picking, check out the availability below. If you're still not sure, email us.  We're happy to help you plan your visit!

IN SEASON, apples are available at the store or for U-Pick (a favorite for the kids). Just purchase a bag at the store and you're on your way. (We supply picking poles so you can reach the ones in the higher branches.) The available apple trees are marked. Take a walk on the trails, find a tree or two, and please, give them a taste before you choose. 

PECK: $10 ~ HALF PECK: $6

(peck approximately 8 dry quarts)

Share the Love

Eighteen North Carolina heirloom apple trees have been planted in a designated location at the Orchard. They represent the O’s commitment to “Save the good stuff”. We are offering these trees for adoption. The cost per tree is $100. 

Here’s how it works. When you purchase adoption papers, you'll be able to help prune, harvest, or just volunteer to assist the field crew in their orchard work (their schedule). Or do nothing at all! And each share will allow you one peck of apples from the orchard each season while the trees are growing or from your own tree when they start bearing fruit. You’ll receive an adoption certificate, and adopters will be recognized in the mini-orchard. Fill out the Adoption Inquiry or email for more information. Adoptions are limited! Only 8 adoptions still available.

Heirloom Apples

The children of some distant day, thus to some aged man shall say, “Who planted this old apple tree?” — William Cullen Bryant

At the Orchard at Altapass, the answer to that question is “The Clinchfield Railroad.” Creighton Lee Calhoun, noted pomologist and author of Old Southern Apples, defines heirloom apples as those varieties that were grown prior to the time when “groceries” became the main source of fruit for most people, which he believes was the late 1920’s. Many of our apple trees were planted by the original owners, making them heirlooms in every sense of the word.

The geography of the Orchard is well suited for apple growing. Located on a southeast-facing slope, it is frost free most of the time. On crisp spring nights when the blossoms are susceptible to frost, cold air slides down the mountain, where it is replaced at the Orchard by warm air. The rising sun likewise helps to protect the young fruit by quickly warming the slope at sunrise. 

The earliest apple to ripen is the Yellow Transparent in June, the latest, York. And in between bushels of the over 25 varieties available. Some of the favorites:

A Word About Our Apples

"Ugly apples" are caused by minimal use of chemicals. We are a 501c3 public charity dedicated to preserving the land and the life that exists on that land, which includes bees and butterflies. We tolerate surface damage to avoid harm to these innocent critters. The flavor of the apples remains if not enhanced by the lack of heavy chemicals. In addition to preserving our Orchard, we are surrounded by 3,000 acres of forest land forever protected from development. We are mindful of a larger responsibility. 

Our Varieties

  • Florina

    (LIMITED) Florina is an unusually flavored, tart, sweet, and aromatic apple. It is a medium size apple with a maroon-red blush over light green color. It has a dessert quality, sprightly complex flavor. It should make a very interesting cooked apple dish as well. AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER

    Florina was developed in Angers, France, in the 1970s from an American heirloom apple, the Jonathan. The French were looking to develop a disease resistant apple with a high quality heirloom flavor.

  • Mother

    (LIMITED) The Mother apple has a beautiful deep red skin and a delicate sweet flavor. It is a true dessert apple with a distinct sweet flavor and a fine grain, tender flesh. It is also noted as an excellent apple sauce and pie apple. Now, it doesn’t keep long, so pick what you will use within a month and keep refrigerated. AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER

    The Mother apple originated on the farm of General Stephen P. Gardner near Bolton, Massachusetts, in the early 1800s. Found to be well adapted to Southern production, it became very popular in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. In Rabin County, Georgia, they became a cash crop and were transported by covered wagon South to Athens, Georgia, in the late-1800s.

  • William's Favorite

    (LIMITED) Williams Favorite (also known as Summer Queen and Williams Early Red) is an unusual early apple, tasting much more like a fall apple. It looks much like a Red Delicious. It often has a conical shape with red and green skin and a sweet flavor. It is much sweeter than a typical early apple. AVAILABLE LATE JULY

    The original Williams Favorite tree grew on the farm of Captain Benjamin Williams near Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1750. It got public attention when exhibited at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society meeting in 1830. In the late 1800s, it had successfully worked its way into some Southern States.

  • Wolf River

    (LIMITED) Wolf River apples are our second largest apple. Only a fair eating apple, it is best as a cooking and drying apple. It is prized for making apple butter. AVAILABLE LATE SEPTEMBER

    Wolf River originated with William A. Springer, a Quebec lumberman. About 1856, Mr. Springer moved his family by wagon from Canada to Wisconsin. On the way, on the shore of Lake Erie, he bought a bushel of large apples, probably Alexander. Mr. Springer saved some seeds and planted them when he reached his new farm, which was located on a little stream called Wolf River near Fremont, Wisconsin. Wolf River originated from one of these seeds.

  • Aunt Rachel

    (LIMITED) Aunt Rachel begins to fruit early, producing excellent apples of good size. The apples are red with darker stripes. The flesh is white, firm, mildly tart, and juicy. It is good for eating and cooking. AVAILABLE EARLY AUGUST

    Aunt Rachel originated in Chatham County, NC. Apple expert Lee Calhoun has helped to spread this little-known apple across North Carolina.

  • Limbertwig

    (LIMITED) Limbertwig apples somewhat resemble Red Limbertwig but they are larger and do not keep as well as Red Limbertwig. The fruit is large and the skin is greenish yellow with a slight red blush on the sunny side. The flesh is yellowish, juicy, tender, and slightly acidic. AVAILABLE EARLY OCTOBER

    Not a single apple variety but rather a very large family of apples. Mr. Morton, full-time Southern Baptist preacher and part-time nurseryman living near Gatlinburg, TN. He said, “Limbertwigs (named after county) vary in size, shape, color, quality and tree habit, but they all have one distinguishing characteristic and that is their distinct Limbertwig flavor. No other apple that I have ever tasted has this particular flavor . . . Once a person has tasted a Black Limbertwig or a Royal Limbertwig, one can then be able to determine if a variety is a Limbertwig.

  • York

    The York has a tart yet sweet taste, and keeps extremely well, becoming sweeter and mellower-tasting over time. It sweetens in flavor for 5–6 months after it is picked. The York Imperial is excellent for baking, cooking, apple sauce, cider, preserves, jams, dried apple slices, and juice, as well as eating fresh. AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER

    In 1820, Quaker nurseryman Jonathan Jessop developed this variety on his Springwood Farm near York, PA, from grafts from John Kline's farm at Hellam, PA.  Jonathan’s Fine Winter was renamed in the early 1850s. Andrew Jackson Downing called it the  Imperial of Keeper due to its excellent storage ability and became better known as the York Imperial.

  • Virginia Beauty

    Locally this is the favorite! With a tender fruit, a very heady apple taste, and aroma that deepens after it is picked and wrapped in newspapers for several weeks. Its color is wine with gold russeting at the stem. Locals make milkshakes from very ripe Virginia Beauties. It is also good for cobblers, pan-fried apples, and extra-sweet eating. AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER

    Virginia Beauty is a good example of an apple grown for many years in a local area before its qualities were widely recognized. The original tree grew from a seed planted about 1810 in Zach Safewright’s yard within the Piper’s Gap District of Carroll County, VA. This original tree began bearing apples about 1826. Martin Stoneman, who did grafting for local people, took scions from the tree and grafted it throughout surrounding counties. It was first called Zach or Zach Red, but about 1850, Stoneman began calling it Virginia Beauty. The original tree stood until 1914.

  • Stayman Winesap

    The Stayman is a rose red conical apple with crimson stripes. It has a vinous flavor, “a simple and direct, generally sweet but with a hint of wine.” It’s been commonly used for fresh eating, sauce, and in baking. Staymans store well into the winter months. AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER

    Dr. J. Stayman planted seeds of Winesap at Leavenworth, KS, in 1866. When the seedling trees were 2-years old, the best dozen young trees were moved near his house. The tree now called Stayman bore its first fruit in 1875. Stayman sent out scions of the most promising of these seedlings to nurserymen in various states for further testing. One variety was so superior that it eventually became known as Stayman’s Winesap. The original tree in Leavenworth was destroyed in a storm in 1899.

  • Red Blaze

    We like to call the Early Blaze an “early Jonathan”. This summer apple is a cross between Jonathan and Grimes Golden, these semi-tart apples are crisp with just the right mixture of sweetness and zip for fresh off the tree eating. Smooth striped skin is cherry red and very attractive. It is an early apple, as its name implies, and is said to make the very best pies. AVAILABLE LATE JULY

    Probably originated in Mercer, Maine, before 1900.  

  • Summer Rambo

    The Summer Rambo has a greenish yellow skin, mottled and striped with a dull red and overspread with a grayish bloom. The fruit is medium-sized on average with a distinctive flavor and aroma. Rated very good to excellent for fresh eating, cooking and baking, jelly, and drying. AVAILABLE AUGUST-SEPTEMBER

    The origins of the Summer Rambo apple cultivar are unknown. It may date back to the American colony of New Sweden, when in 1637 Peter Gunnarsson Rambo, a Swedish immigrant, arrived on the Kalmar Nyckel, supposedly carrying apple seeds in a box.

  • McIntosh

    McIntosh apples can vary in color from whitish yellow to greenish blushed with red. It is a crisp, juicy, aromatic variety. It's known for its high quality firm and juicy white flesh with a brisk sub-acid flavor. Great for apple sauce, it cooks quickly into a puree. AVAILABLE AUGUST-SEPTEMBER

    In 1796, 19-year-old John McIntosh had a disagreement with his parents over a love affair and emigrated from NY to Dundas County, Ontario, Canada. Finding some seedling apple trees on overgrown land, McIntosh moved them near his house. By 1820, one of these bore excellent apples. McIntosh learned how to graft about 1835, and began selling grafted trees, locally known as McIntosh Red. Around 1900, McIntosh became popular in the northern US. The original tree was badly damaged when the house burned in 1894. It finally blew down in 1910.

  • Lodi – Yellow Transparent

    Lodi is one of the first apples of the season. A tart apple, Lodi is known mainly for making applesauce because it cooks down very quickly. AVAILABLE LATE JULY

    This apple’s origin can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century. It was developed by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. Lodi was created by crossing a Transparent apple with a Montgomery.

  • King Luscious

    The largest apple we grow (it’s huge) is very juicy and sweet – fine for eating and for light cooking. Fruit is attractive with glossy red skin overlaid with darker red striping. Flesh is fine grained, juicy, and mildly sweet. King Luscious stores well in refrigeration, and known for excellent pie making. AVAILABLE EARLY OCTOBER

    According to Vintage Virginia Apples (and others), King Luscious was found growing in North Carolina in 1935. Many other sources say it is a cross between Stayman and Wolf River; some say "is presumed to be," which is more accurate for a foundling absent DNA testing.

  • Jonagold

    Jonagold has a green-yellow basic color with crimson, brindled covering color. The apple has a fluffily crisp fruit. It is juicy and aromatic and has a sweet-sour taste. AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER

    Jonagold is a cultivar of apple which was developed in 1953 in New York State Agricultural Experiment Station of Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a cross between the crisp Golden Delicious and the blush-crimson Jonathan

  • Grimes Golden

    People visit from miles away to pick this parent apple of the Golden Delicious. Grimes Golden is a beautiful golden apple with dessert eating qualities. It was recognized as an early American cider apple; reported to ferment to 9% alcohol. Its delicate, sweet flavor make it an excellent apple for fresh eating, cooking, juice, and a particularly fine apple butter. AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER

    About 1790, Edward Cranford planted apple seeds on his farm in VA. In 1802, he sold his farm to Thomas P. Grimes who found one of the seedling trees producing fruit of a golden color, fine quality, and good keeping ability. Grimes sold fruit from this tree to traders who took flat boats to New Orleans. Despite its excellence, for half a century Grimes Golden was little known outside of its local area. It was not until it was highly praised in the The American Agriculturist magazine in 1866 that it became widely popular.

  • Golden Delicious

    Our Goldens have a red blush! This is because they are not picked before they are ripe and ready, making them crisp, sweet, and pungent—unlike most of those found in grocery stores. They are great for snacking, and very fine for pies, cobblers and baked apples. Golden Delicious hold their shape well when cooked. AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER

    The original tree was found on the Mullins' family farm in Clay County, WV and locally known as
    Mullin's Yellow Seedling and Annit apple. Anderson Mullins sold the tree and propagation rights to Stark Brothers Nurseries for $5000, which first marketed it as a companion of their Red Delicious in 1914.

  • Ginger Gold

    The flavor is fairly mild, and a bit sharper than Golden Delicious but still sweet for an early variety.  It is equally good for eating fresh or processing. Reflecting a Golden Delicious parentage, it is a good keeper and will last several weeks in refrigeration. Ginger Gold is generally considered one of the best early-season apples. AVAILABLE AUGUST

    Ginger Gold was discovered as a chance seedling growing near a Golden Delicious orchard in Virginia in the 1960s.  The color, shape, and distinctive long stalk all identify it as a relation of Golden Delicious, yet it has a much earlier season.

  • Gala

    Gala is a cross between Kidd's Orange Red and Golden Delicious.  A high quality apple with the potential to deliver really good flavor—punchy sweet flavor, described almost pear-like. Keeps well in storage. AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER

    Gala tree was one of many seedlings resulting from a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Kidd's Orange Red that was planted in New Zealand in the 1930s by orchardist J.H. Kidd. Donald W. McKenzie, an employee of Stark Bros Nursery, obtained a US plant patent for the cultivar on October 15, 1974.

  • Roxbury Russet

    (LIMITED) Roxbury Russet's flesh is crisp with a substantial and satisfying crunch, medium-grained, and light yellow with green highlights. The general impression is tart with some sugar. Like most russets, each bite makes a solid chew—not heavy or hard, but not melt-in-your-mouth either. AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER

    The Roxbury Russet is an apple cultivar, believed to be the oldest apple cultivar bred in the United States, having first been discovered and named around 1620 in the former Town of Roxbury, Massachusetts. It was grafted and taken to Connecticut soon after 1649.

  • Razor Russet

    The Razor Russet is a medium to large size apple, with a golden brown, fully russeted skin. It has a firm flesh with high sugar content. It is excellent for fresh eating and cooking. Another great Rusty Coat! It should keep for months after harvest.  AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER

    A new member of our “Rusty Coat” family, this russeted apple was found as a “sport” on a Golden Delicious tree. A sport is a genetic mutation; a branch on an existing tree that begins growing a different apple! It was discovered by W. Armstrong from the University of Kentucky in a Golden Delicious orchard in the 1970s. It was named, grafted and entered the marketplace shortly after.

  • Sheep Nose

    (LIMITED) Also called the Black Gilliflower", the Sheep Nose apple is for baking and drying. Fruit is large, uniquely oblong (hence the name Sheep Nose) with a deep, black-red skin when fully ripe. Flesh is crisp and white with a mildly sweet flavor and a pleasant aroma. Does not keep well. AVAILABLE LATE SEPTEMBER

    Sheep Nose originated in Connecticut, circa 18th century.



1025 Orchard Road

Spruce Pine, NC 28777

Blue Ridge Parkway
(mile marker 328.3)



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