Apples were first ingested in Central Asia, most likely in what is now Kazakhstan. Some religions have a mythology surrounding them — think Garden of Eden. The mid-Hudson region in New York has a claim to be the premier purveyor of apples and apple-lore. It’s known that one John Chapman — or Johnny Appleseed, as he came to be known — wound his way here from Massachusetts on his way to Pennsylvania and over the Alleghanies into Ohio, talking Swedenborgism – the sect dedicated to the teachings of Swedish philosopher Emmanuel Swedenborg to which he belonged to — and spreading those precious seeds with the other.
The apple is king around here. It may not provide you ultimate knowledge per se, but biting into a tart Macoun is probably the next best thing to sex, or at least Adam and Eve thought so. There is a plethora of orchards and farmstands to satisfy the most discriminating taste buds.
A few years ago, seven long-time family-owned orchards decided to create a Hudson Valley Apple Trail that has taken the best of each farm and morphed it into an excursion. This meandering route wends its way through New Paltz, Gardiner, Modena and Clintondale. All the farms offer pick-your-owns.
Starting at Apple Hill Farm on Route 32 on your way south from New Paltz, you can pick your own apples (and pumpkins, too) up on a little rise overlooking the Shawangunks that has been farmed since 1938 by the Moriello family. Then it’s on to Dressel Farms on Route 208, started by the Dressel Family in 1957, offering the same fruits of the season and still looking up at the Shawangunk Ridge and SkyTop at Mohonk. A little further south on 208 is Wright’s Farm, at the crossroads of Route 44/55 and farmed since 1903. There’s Tantillo’s Farm Market, started in 1932 by Frank Tantillo, a little further south on 208.
After Tantillo’s, laden with apple-cider donuts and cider, turn around and head east on 44/55 a mile or so to the little hamlet of Modena. A hundred yards from the intersection with Route 32 is the century-old Hurd’s Family Farm, with its now-famous corn maze. From there it’s north on Route 32 to a right on Brookside Road, which turns into Hurd’s Road. At the intersection with South Ohioville Road is the Minard Farm, also a cntury old. Minard’s was recently purchased by the Doubrava family.
From there take Hurd’s Road to Route 44/55 again (at the little hamlet of Clintondale) and head a couple of miles east to Pancake Hollow Road and then a couple miles more to one of the oldest farms in the mid-Hudson, Wilklow Orchards, farmed since 1855, right across the road from Highland High School. Wilklow’s also has a petting zoo.