Apple Picking and Camping in Southern California
Whoever said that apple picking isn’t a thing on the West Coast is a goddamn liar. I’m sorry, but it had to be said, as Ben and I have made a little tradition of going apple picking every Fall for the last few years. Just an hour and a half outside Los Angeles, Yucaipa’s apple picking orchards make for a perfect day trip. An afternoon in a peaceful, rural setting, picking fruit and hanging out with loved ones, makes for a perfect escape. And bringing your apples home always results in treats galore (at least in our house). This year, we decided to make a weekend of it by adding camping to the mix. We also brought our friends Walter and Crystal along!
Los Rios Rancho
We planned to head straight to Los Rios Rancho on Saturday morning, and then to make our way to Big Bear (roughly an hour’s drive further) to set up camp. The idea was to get to the apple orchard before the crowds got too thick, get our apples, grab lunch and go. Despite our best efforts, the line for the restaurant was pretty outrageous, so we ended up eating elsewhere. But we did manage to get in and out of the farm pretty quickly. And of course, we carefully selected at least 25 apples.
The place is gorgeous. It’s surrounded by picturesque mountains and filled with seasonal activities like fruit picking, a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, a BBQ joint, and even a sprawling botanical garden.
Camping in Big Bear
I don’t have a huge itinerary with interesting and unique camping activities to share with you. That’s not what this trip was about. The point was simply to unplug with some friends and enjoy time outside in a place with actual seasons. And we did all of those things.In the past, Ben and I have always half-assed campground cooking. We either made overly simplistic foods like fire-roasted sausages and zucchini, or we ate out. But this time we decided to invest in a camping stove and cookware. We liked the idea of being able to enjoy a nice meal by the fire before inevitably waking up in the middle of the night thinking we might freeze to death. A fresh breakfast after the long, cold sleep was also enticing.
The idea of bringing a bunch of single-use paper and plastic products whilst basking in our planet’s beauty, however, was not. So we opted to bring as many reusable resources as possible. I’m incredibly grateful to Crow Canyon Home, who supplied us with the cute but practical dinnerware you’ll see pictured below for our weekend in the woods.
For dinner we made a kimchi stew, which has a real warming quality – perfect for camping.The one drawback of camp cooking is doing dishes. Dishes are not super fun in the freezing cold (or without running water), but we made do with the wash basin that came included with our camp cookware. That said, our icicle hands had us feeling extra ready to hang by the fire, so it wasn’t all bad.
If you decide to copy this trip (which you really should), I highly recommend roasting your apples stuffed with butter, cinnamon and sugar over the fire! We finished off the night by taking some spooky pictures and some star pictures. Always a good mix if you ask me.In the morning, we made coffee and breakfast tacos before packing up, playing a card game and heading out for a hike.
Pine Knot Trail
This nearby hike was our last activity of the weekend, and it was an excellent choice. I really didn’t realize that Big Bear had such a dramatic autumn, but this trail absolutely showcased it. Again, if you plan on copying this trip, I’d highly recommend including Pine Knot Trail. It’s 6.6 miles out and back, but since we were short on time we only did 2. Those 2 miles were perfectly satisfying after our long night, though, and I’d happily go back and finish it in the future!
On our way home, Ben and I stopped at a few different vantage points to take pictures like the tourist trash that we are, and I don’t regret a thing. We returned home feeling tired and dusty, but also revitalized and fulfilled. There’s something very therapeutic about getting outside and away from all the stresses of day to day life, and this trip was perfect for that!