By Nicole Cornella

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Nothing announces the coming of Autumn like the smell of freshly baked apple pie, leaves falling and the sound of a crackling fireplace. It feels like yesterday that I got off the school bus and walked into a house filled with the aroma of home made apple pies or apple crisps (and could actually devour them without calculating how much time I’d have to spend on the treadmill later to offset the bum-rush of calories I’d just consumed)

For those who reside in the tri-state area, there are a variety of farms that provide families and friends with the pleasures of walking through large orchards to handpick their own apples. Ever since I was a little girl, my parents had taken me to one of the largest orchards in the New York area, Masker Orchards, which is set in the beautifully valleys of Warwick, New York.Located roughly an hour outside of New York City, Masker Orchards offers an ideal setting for a picturesque fall day trip with your family, friends or significant other. Pack a picnic and you are set. Masker’s is one of the only farms that allows you to drive up to any of the variety of 200,000 apple trees on their 200-acre farm which is set amidst the breath-taking fall foliage of upstate New York. Apple picking season begins in early September and continues through mid-November.

When you are done picking your favorite apples — from Macintosh to Jonagolds– enjoy the country atmosphere before you leave for the day. Masker Orchards offers activities for the kids; even the big kid in you. From pony rides and baby barnyard animals to hayrides and live country music will be the perfect end to your day. Grab a homemade donut and some fresh apple cider and take a stroll around the barnyard setting. Pick some pumpkins or browse the Masker’s Country Store where you can pick up a fresh jar of jam or apple butter.

After a summer filled with days at the beach and pricey vacations, an autumn day in the country with your family and friends will not having you dig into your wallet. Admission, parking and the bags provided are all free. At the end of your apple-picking odyssey, each bag full of fresh apples will cost you $16.75 a bag and $2.50 for a jug of cider. And the best part, while your climbing through trees and walking through the orchards, feel free to eat as many apples as you can.

Grab the kids, grab your friends and head upstate for a day, away from the hustle and bustle of the city life and pleasant change of scenery. Nothing beats the smell of autumn and the changing color of the leaves that engulfs the orchards. And better yet, nothing will beat the aroma of fresh baked apple pie upon your return home.

Masker Orchards is open 7 days a week. For more information and an apple ripening schedule, visit

Originally published October 2006
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