The weekend of the autumn equinox, we travelled inland to the mountains for a taste of fall. I was raised in New England, which in my opinion, has the most epic falls with spectacular foliage and bountiful apple orchards. Although I love living in Southern California (sunny and 70’s in January – yes, please!), fall is the one time of year I really miss New England. Since our eldest son was born, we have made annual trips to “find fall” in Southern California. Most years, we’ve gone to Oak Glen (San Bernardino County) for a day trip, but last year we went camping in Julian for a weekend (San Diego County).
We decided to head out early Friday afternoon, once Alex was released from his morning session Kindergarten. By leaving around 12:30pm, we were able to beat most of the Friday afternoon rush hour traffic leaving Orange County heading east through Riverside. We arrived at Oak Glen around 2:30pm – which was enough time to enjoy the expansive grounds of Riley’s Farm and pick some apples at Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho.
Oak Glen has a number of farms, many of which contain the Riley family name. I was curious, so I googled and found this history. We’ve visited different farms in Oak Glen over the years, and each one has something special to offer. Since we came before apple season was in full swing (typically early October), these were the two places that were open for u-pick and visiting.
We came for apples, but found so much more! We didn’t end up picking apples here, but picked some delicious pears, late-season strawberries (small but super sweet), and frolicked through their flower fields. Our friends who arrived before us picked some raspberries as well.
After Riley’s Farm, we headed to Riley Los Ranchos Rios to pick some apples. Since it was already late in the day, Jason dropped us off and picked up some apple cider and mini donuts from Snowline Orchard, which are a must eat if you are in town! They were so delicious, I didn’t get a photo before they were all devoured.
The farms in Oak Glen close at 5pm, so this could have been a day trip from either Los Angeles or Orange County. In the past, we’ve gone on the weekend and our general itinerary was 10-12: pick apples, 12-2 leisurely picnic lunch, get some apple cider and cider donuts on the way out, and head home.
This time, we decided to go all out for fall, and rented a charming cottage and trailer in the nearby mountains with friends for the weekend. There aren’t a lot of listings in Oak Glen, compared to Julian – so this might be worth keeping in mind when considering a trip. We picked up groceries at Stater Brother’s in Yucaipa on our way to Forest Falls. When we arrived, the sun was just about to set. This didn’t stop us from enjoying a delicious BBQ dinner on the patio.
The next morning, we woke up to this spectacular view and surroundings. The kids played outside from morning to night. We grabbed some snacks and water and hiked less than a mile to a nearby waterfall – Big Falls.
It was so nice to be so close to home, yet so far and disconnected. We were forced to slow down and enjoy each other and the outdoors.
I’ve heard from others that there aren’t many apples left by mid October, but Oak Glen is still a beautiful place for a day trip with nature preserves and farms to visit, and mountains nearby.
Oak Glen Tips:
- Do: Pick apples, visit farms, hike – here’s a directory of all the orchards and businesses in Oak Glen.
- Hike: Oak Glen Preserve, or for a very special memory – you can hike with llamas from Oak Hollow Farm through an Airbnb Experience. We did this in the spring, and it was so fun and beautiful. In Forest Falls, the Big Falls trail is a nice family hike (0.7 miles out and back) but you do have to be careful with children due to slippery rocks.
- Stay: There aren’t too many lodgings in Oak Glen itself. Oak Hollow Farm has a camping listing on hipcamp which is temporarily closed, but I just found this neat option for a farmstay in a Gypsy Wagon for 2 adults here on Airbnb. For this trip, we stayed in the 1939 Vintage Creekside cabin with our friends in the adjacent trailer.
- Eat: Mini Cider donuts at Snowline orchard. We always get a jug or two of cider while there, and our favorite is the apple cherry.
- Discount Codes for new bookings: Hipcamp: $10 off code “EVERYDAYADVENTUREFAM, Airbnb: $40 with this link