This family-owned orchard in Hendersonville, NC has u-pick apples, lots of fun family activities on weekends, and pretty amazing cider and pumpkin donuts.
Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard is the very first u-pick apple orchard in Henderson County and has been in operation for more than 50 years. They know what they’re doing and we had to go check it out for ourselves. Honestly, I went for the pumpkin donuts. I love apple cider donuts but pumpkin? Yes, please!
One thing that stood out to me immediately was just how super nice and helpful everyone at the orchard was. They have u-pick apples, pre-picked apples, homemade a big store that sells soap, t-shirts, and honey, a bakery, corn maze, pumpkin patch, jumping pillow, apple canon, and wagon ride. Some of these activities are only available on weekends, which I’ll tell you about in this review.
About Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard
Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard is a fourth-generation family-owned apple orchard that is over 50 years old. They started out selling wholesale apples and the pick-your-own part of the operation was just a side gig. But people loved coming to Stepp’s so much that the family decided to convert the orchard over to an entire u-pick business. It was Henderson County’s very first u-pick apple orchard.
The farm grows 26 varieties of apples and updates its website often to show which varieties are ready for u-pick and where to find them. Their shop has some wonderfully soft t-shirts for sale, baby bibs, local honey, locally made soap, and of course, lots of apples.
Apple Picking at Stepp’s
There are seven orchards within Stepp’s and are labeled on the maps around the orchard. You can drive to each one on weekdays but not on weekends due to crowds. First, you need to check the list of apples that are ready to be picked at the apple house near the big barn when you park. There is also a map with a QR code that takes you right to the list on the website that has the different varieties that are ready to be picked.
Then you need to choose whether you want to pick a half peck, peck, or half bushel of apples and pay for your choice in the shop. After that, take another look at the map and if you have questions, the kind people who work at Stepp’s will have no issues helping you out. They will point you in the right direction. I took a photo of the map just in case.
So you have your map, directions, and basket. Now go get your apple cart, which is to your right once you walk out of the shop where you paid for your basket. The apple cart is surprisingly durable. Don’t ask me how I know this. It proved to be quite useful and entertaining for our trip.
The apples we wanted to pick were way back in Orchard 4 so we started walking there with our apple cart. My youngest daughter decided she wanted a ride so in she went and somehow my oldest daughter thought it loads of fun to pull her along. And keep pulling her along. And then pulled her along some more. It was quite the hike out to Orchard 4. Once we got there, we had to find the apples we wanted and make sure they had a “pick me” sign on them, indicating the row was okay for visitors to pick from.
We could only find one row of the apples we wanted so we took the entire loop around Orchard 4 to look for more, which leads me to my pro tip for you: You can go either way on the loop and come to the row of apples You want as the row of the same apples stretch from one end of the loop to the other, which means you do not need to travel the entire loop, part of which is uphill, to find the apples you want.
All in all, we ended up walking about 1.5 miles around the orchard searching for apples to pick. It’s a beautiful orchard and the weather was mild when we went. My kids really loved the apple cart so it was a lot of fun. Just wear sturdy shoes for walking, and bring water and possibly sunscreen. If you get lost, there are maps everywhere.
Things to do at Stepp’s
The farm is open daily during apple season and if you can swing a weekday trip, it will be a lot less crowded than on a busy fall weekend. But if you go on a weekend, you’ll have more options of things to do.
The apple orchard has a five-acre corn maze that is open every day so you can enjoy not getting lost in there. There are also plenty of picnic tables for lunch if you want to bring one to keep you energized for all the apple picking. In addition to apple picking, the farm offers grape picking as well as u-pick flowers earlier in the fall season.
On Saturdays and Sundays, you can shoot apples from a canon, kids can jump on the jumping pillow, and anyone can take a wagon ride.
The orchard also has a pumpkin patch, which opens later in the fall. Check the Stepp’s Orchard website for the exact dates.
We stumbled upon rows of benches and super interesting graphics explaining the lifecycles of worms that harm apples and the apple growing season in one of the barns. It turns out that this setup is part of the field trips that the orchard offers. We also saw a really cute little corn maze that was roped off for school use only as well as a school-only pumpkin patch. They are totally ready for all those school kids to come for a day of fun at the apple orchard.
School tours are for preschool through second grade but the farm also offers homeschool tours. These tours are 1.5 hours long and include a tractor ride, a bag of u-pick apples, corn maze, pumpkin patch, a cup of cider, and an interactive farm lesson. They are $7/person and happen 9:30 am and 11 am Monday-Thursday. School tours are the same dates and hours and include similar activities.
Bakery at Stepp’s
What’s an apple orchard without apple cider donuts? Stepp’s has plenty of cider donuts to go around as well as homemade fudge, ice cream, cold drinks, and apple slushies.
And, wait for it, they have pumpkin donuts. I could barely contain my excitement. I love all things pumpkin except PSL – don’t judge me – and these pumpkin donuts were amazing. I asked one of my daughters which donut she liked better, the pumpkin or the cider one, and she looked at me like I had asked her to map a course to the moon. There was no way to answer that. I tried both as well and the pumpkin donut barely edged out the cider donut. Barely.
A half peck basket is $13, a peck box is $15, and a half bushel box is $20. They have carts you can borrow while you make your way around the orchard to pick apples.
For the other activities on the farm, the corn maze is $6/person (kids 2 and under are free), unlimited time on the jumping pillow is $6/kid, $2/person for a wagon ride around the orchard, and the apple canon experience is $5.
Once apple season kicks in mid-July, the farm is open daily through October Monday-Thursday from 9 am – 5:30 pm, Friday and Saturday from 9 am – 6 pm, and Sundays 10 am – 6 pm.
There is no admission charge. You just pay for apples, activities, and however many donuts you can eat.
Have you been to Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard?
Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard
170 Stepp Orchard Dr, Hendersonville, NC
The Hendersonville area is one of our most favorite places to visit so we have a lot of other things to do in the area for you to make it an entire day trip up there!