Are you headed to Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, North Carolina? Discover 7 must fall activities in order to have the best trip to this popular North Carolina apple orchard and destination.
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Fall in Asheville is one of my favorite times of the year. Having lived in the land of the oranges for so long, I demand one thing from my Asheville autumn: APPLES! Show me the apples. Apple cider, caramel apples, apple cider donuts, hard cider, apple cider slushies, and just crunchy a*s apples.
If you are looking for North Carolina orchards and apple farms, some of the best are in Henderson County. In fact, the area is known as “Apple Alley,” a play on the area’s Apple Valley. Hendersonville and Flat Rock are home to the best apple orchards along with restaurants, historic downtown areas, breweries, and wineries.
So which apple orchard should you gorge on cider donuts from first in this apple country oasis? If you are looking for mountain views with the best apple cider donuts that I’ve ever demolished in seconds, head to Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, NC. Sky Top Orchard is only about 45 to 50-minutes away from Asheville.
Keep reading to uncover 7 fantastically fun fall things you can do at Sky Top Orchard. As Asheville locals, we’ll also share where you can grab lunch, our favorite nearby fall hikes, where to stay, and what else is in and around Flat Rock and Hendersonville, NC.
Let’s get started!
7 Things You Must Do At Sky Top Orchard This Fall
What should you do at Sky Top Orchard? EVERYTHING!! But, there are definitely some musts because I’m pretty sure you didn’t even go to Sky Top if you didn’t do the following things:
1. Play Outside On The Playground
I recently saw a sign at the Biltmore playground that said you had to be 12-years-old or under to play on their wooden castle. OK, I get it: we don’t want creepy adults hanging out with the kids or smashing their noggins on too petite entrance ways.
BUT I don’t have kids–just cats–and I wanted to slide! Thank gosh Sky Top Orchard has a huge outdoor playground and hopefully rules that I didn’t miss.
Perfect for the entire family, find wooden houses, giant pumpkin and apple playhouses, and slides. Chill on a picnic table and enjoy the fresh air and mountain views.
2. Devour A Steamy Apple Cider Doughnut Or 10
At the entrance to Sky Top Orchard, piping hot apple cider donuts await your anxious and drooling tastebuds. I’m pretty sure these infamous apple cider donuts stay outside because the lines get long, and yes, they may run out of the goods.
Watch as donut bakers shake your donut crack in cinnamon and sugar and serve them steaming hot. Hypnotic and addicting, you’ll watch as crazed apple cider doughnut fanatics immediately find a bench and dig right in. You must do the same. Nothing beats a warm, fresh donut. I ate two before my husband even realized it.
Full disclosure: these puffy little treats of delicate yet gooey amazingness are not allergy-intolerant friendly by any means. My husband, who has Celiac’s, watched me inhale a donut with milk–and yes, I am lactose-intolerant. A Lactaid and stomachache are more than worth the price I’ll pay. Don’t tell my GI doctor, please.
3. Say ‘Hello’ The Barnyard Animals
We definitely learned a little more about the birds and the bees with a very horny goat…pun intended.
After you fuel up on donuts, take your sugar high over to the various farm animal locations to see peacocks, sheep, goats, ducks, and chickens. Bring your quarters for the feeders.
4. Walk The Nature Trails Through A Bamboo Forest
Located on your way to apple picking and the farm animals, discover the weirdest and coolest North Carolina feature: a bamboo forest. Who knew?! Not me.
As an English major, I won’t go all agricultural-scientific on you, but YES, there is a bamboo forest in the middle of an apple orchard in NC. You’ll randomly spy bamboo across NC, even at Biltmore and in people’s yards.
Small but incredibly stunning, take a stroll through the bamboo forest–and no, it’s not the same as a corn maze. Free to enter, gaze up at hollow, green bamboo stalks and spend about 10-minutes walking through to the other side.
5. Pick Your Own Seasonal Apples, Peaches, Pears & Grapes
Whether or not you are a local or a tourist, I am pretty sure that you have to pick apples. U-Pick Season near Asheville and the orchards around Hendersonville tend to close up shop around the end of October, but sometimes you can find a longer picking season based on the weather.
Apples found at Sky Top Orchard include: Macs, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Fuji, Rome, and Pink Lady, just to name a few. Nothing beats that panoramic mountain view, either.
I won’t lie: you may have to walk pretty far out to get those apples. Wear good shoes because with the fall rain, the orchards turn to slippery mud. Plus, there are your usual bees and mushed fallen apples.
You may also buy pre-packaged apples at the store along with pumpkins, jams, and your typical orchard delicacies.
6. Take A Tractor Ride
We have watched the tractor chug along through the orchard but have not taken a ride ourselves. Just know that this fun exists.
Sky Top Orchard also has a bee train for the kids, but we did not see it running while we visited. I don’t think my Italian butt would have fit in a bee barrel anyway…
7. Stock Up On Fall Goodies At The Farm Store
Don’t forget that Sky Top Orchard also offers a ton of fall treats in their farm store. Visitors can purchase cold or hard cider.
We love the Sky Top Orchard slushies, and we usually pick up some baby pumpkins for our fireplace. Nothing makes my heart sing ‘fallllll’ more like a little white pumpkin in the palm of my hand…
Last year, we bought caramel and candy apple supplies to decorate our apples at home.
Sky Top Orchard Contact Info
Physical Address (not for your GPS, though):
1193 Pinnacle Mountain Rd
Flat Rock, NC 28790
As Sky Top Orchard notes on their website, you want to use a different GPS address or you’ll end up with the cows.
3403 Greenville Highway
Flat Rock, NC28731
Phone Number: (828) 692-7930
Directions To Sky Top Orchard
If you are coming from Asheville, you will hop on I-26E. We’ve taken back road detours to miss the traffic. And yes, 1-26 is a total BEAR lately. With construction and fall tourist season, expect unforeseen delays and traffic at all times of the day.
Take Exit 54 for Flat Rock, and then get off at Exit 5 where you will take a right. Follow the signs for Sky Top Orchard, which will lead you to Pinnacle Mountain Road. Take a left, and climb that bad boy of a hill.
Parking is free, and when visitors slam the orchard–usually weekends–attendants will help you find a spot in their various lots. Lots will fill up quickly, too.
Sky Top Orchard Hours
Sky Top is open mid-August to December. Open 7 days a week in season, except for Thanksgiving, hours of operation are 9 AM to 6 PM until Daylight Savings ends. After the clock change, Sky Top Orchard closes a little earlier at 5 PM. Always check the Sky Top Orchard website for updates just in case.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Sky Top Orchard?
Sky Top Orchard, like most places in and around Asheville, get terrifyingly busy during the weekends, especially from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. In fact, Sky Top Orchard has been known to hit parking capacity, and they advise that if this happens, come back on a less busy day/time. You can park on the side of the road, too, but park at your own risk.
We always recommend visiting popular fall places like the apple orchards and waterfall hikes on weekdays right at opening or an hour or two before closing. Earlier is usually always better.
Sky Top Picking Schedule
Sky Top Orchard grows over 22 varieties of apples. U-Pick Season usually starts in late August and goes until the end of October. Sometimes the apple picking season will last into early November.
Because some of your favorite and the more well-known apples aren’t available all season, I recommend checking the orchard’s picking schedule.
I am no apple expert or farmer, but typically McIntosh, Gala, and Ginger Gold apples grow earlier in the season followed by Jonathon, Jonagold, Red & Golden Delicious, and Cortland. Granny Smith, Fuji, and Pink Ladies are usually available toward the end of the season.
Sky Top Orchard Pricing
Admission and parking are free, even to the bamboo forest. Expect to pay for any goodies that you purchase at the store or if you decide to pick any apples.
As of 2019, we paid a flat fee of $20 for one full basket of apples.
Where To Stay Near Sky Top Orchard
1898 Waverly Inn – We stayed at this amazing B&B while house hunting and loved our experience. Happy hour was our favorite, and Mike possesses a wealth of knowledge.
The Charleston Inn – Next door to the Waverly, this property is also within walking distance of downtown Hendersonville.
Things To Do In & Around Sky Top Orchard
Tour Around Apple Alley
If you love apple orchards and are looking to drink even more cider, get lost in a corn maze, and find the best donuts in North Carolina, make sure to tour the rest of the Hendersonville apple orchards. Don’t miss our favorite, Stepp’s Hillcrest, and be sure to check out their sunflowers and corn maze.
You can also visit Mountain Fresh Orchards, Justus Orchard, and Grandad’s Apples, just to name a few. All of the orchards are fairly close together and make for a beautiful fall country drive.
Grab Lunch In Downtown Hendersonville, NC
Hendersonville is about 20-minutes from Sky Top Orchard. We tend to head this way for lunch after a full orchard morning. A few restaurants that we’ve enjoyed in Hendersonville include: Postero, Umi Sushi, Mike’s On Main, and Haus Heidelberg German Restaurant. Hendersonville also has a quaint downtown perfect for shopping and grabbing drinks or a coffee.
Or, Have Lunch In Downtown Flat Rock, NC
Downtown Flat Rock is about 10-minutes away from Sky Top Orchard. We have yet to fully explore Flat Rock and its restaurants. A few places that come highly recommended include: Hubba Hubba Steakhouse and Flat Rock Village Bakery.
Take A Beautiful Fall Hike
Hiking in and around Asheville in the fall is beautiful. If you are looking to hike off all of that sugar, why not head to the Carl Sandburg home, Chimney Rock, or check out one of our favorite fall hikes around the Blue Ridge Parkway? DuPont State Forest is also extremely popular around this time of the year.
Have You Been To Sky Top Orchard For Apple Picking?
Have you been to Flat Rock or Sky Top Orchard yet? What do you love about Sky Top? More importantly, which of the apple orchards near Asheville, NC do you think has the best doughnuts? Let us know in the comments!
This article originally published on October 22, 2019 and has been updated for 2020.