The Hood River Fruit Loop, covering about 35 miles of gorgeous country in the foothills of Mount Hood, is iconic for drawing locals and visitors to experience a flavor packed self-guided tour. Between the whitecaps of Columbia River in northern Oregon and the looming Mount Hood, with its 11,239-foot summit crusted with snow even in summer and early fall, is the Hood River Valley, renowned for orchards that produce some of the best-tasting apples in the country.
In fact, the area’s national reputation for producing delicious apples dates back to the 1900 Chicago’s World’s Fair, where local growers won 16 blue ribbons and the Chicago Tribune stated, “Everybody in the world knows about Hood River apples.”
The Columbia Gorge region provides the ideal mix of warm sunny days, crisp cool nights, and rich volcanic soil that produces perky, sweet apples. The valley, which is framed by picturesque Mount Adams to the north and Mount Hood to the south, produces over 225,000 tons of apples, pears and cherries every year on more than 15,000 acres of orchards and farm land.
Although known for growing great apples, superior growing conditions and bountiful harvests have made Hood River County the largest producer of pears in the United States. Over 12,000 acres are dedicated to the production of Green and Red d’Anjou, Bartlett, Comice, Bosc, Forelle, and Seckel pears.
Luckily for apple lovers, not only are the views spectacular but the Valley is also a famed wine region, making it easy to pick up those Honey Crisp apples for your pie and taste some of the latest vintages along the way. The famous Hood River Fruit Loop takes you through high-mountain orchards, transitioning from bucolic to boutique, from rustic to recreational. In between raids on farm stands there are plenty of other attractions to explore, including vineyards, antique shops and even the occasional alpaca ranch.
Traveling down Hwy 35 on the east side of the Hood River Fruit Loop, you’ll come upon the Apple Valley Country Store in Odell, Oregon (#23 on the official map). Celebrating more than 20 years as one of Northern Oregon’s favorite visitor attractions, this iconic country store has caught the attention of locals and travelers alike. They’ve been featured in Sunset Magazine, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Bon Appétit and The New York Times. Their famous “4 lb. apple pies” even made a cameo appearance on Food Network’s Surf n’ Turf special.
2363 Tucker Road, Hood River
Check website for seasonal hours (www.AppleValleyStore.com)
Driving further south travelers will encounter Kiyokawa Family Orchards, the 200+ acre premier fruit grower in Hood River since 1911. Started by descendants of Japanese immigrants, Mamoru and Michiko Kiyokaway, the operation is now operated by son Randy. Known for offering more than 100 apple varieties, Kiyokawa Orchards prides itself on their organic and sustainably grown fruit selections, including peaches, pears, cherries, and, of course, apples. They offer upick in season, and all fruit is grower-direct at farmers markets and retail locations for lower price selection.
Open 7 days a week
8129 Clear Creek Road, Parkdale
Add a few of these other farm stands to your Hoof River Fruit Loop drive:
Aubert Fruit Company
Draper Girls Country Farm & U-Pick Orchards
Hood River Lavender Farms
Hood River Organic
Hood River U-Pick Organic
Mt. View Orchards Cider & Fruit Stand
Packer Orchards & Farm Place
Packer Orchards & Bakery
Smiley’s Red Barn
The Fruit Company
The Gorge White House Fruit Stand & Winery
The Old Trunk
Top image: Jason Trommetter
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