Last weekend Spencer and I checked off the first item on the fall bucket list! We went out to Hood River with two of our friends and both of our furry friends to check out the Hood River County Fruit Loop. The Fruit Loop is an organization that spotlights local farms, cideries, wineries, and fruit stands. There are 28 different members, and depending on the time of year you go, you can take advantage of their in season produce. One of the cool things about the loop is that no matter what season you go out to Hood River, you can have a different experience each time. In the spring, you can go see the fruit trees budding, in the summer there’s berries and lavender to pick, and in the fall, apples and pears are the main fare to pick.
We got a bit of a later start than we had anticipated, so we had to cut down our list just a bit, but here are the four stops we made last weekend. To start, I’ll give you a piece of advice- eat breakfast or lunch before you start, or better yet, bring a picnic with snacks. We got to Hood River around 12:30, and tried to get lunch at the Gorge White House, but it was going to be over an hour before we got our food. We decided to keep driving and eat after, but we were definitely hungry. So plan ahead and either factor in time to wait at the White House if it’s busy, or eat in Hood River. Full Sail Brewing was recommended to us during this adventure, and we love Double Mountain Brewing (the Truffle Shuffle pizza is my fave!).
1) Packer Orchards and Bakery (#9 on the Fruit Loop map)
This place speaks my love language- jam and baked goods. The first thing we saw when we drove up was two tables end to end full of homemade jams and jellies. They had so many unique flavors, and it was fun trying the different combinations. We ended up getting a marionberry vanilla jam, a couple of their cookies and scones (the pumpkin chocolate chip was my favorite), and a few pears for the road. This stand was super cute, and they make seasonal milkshakes as well!
2) Kiyokawa Family Orchards (#14 on the Fruit Loop map)
Melissa heard this stand had great pears, and we were debating on picking apples at this stop. We ended up sampling the apples and pears from the stand and choosing fruit from the stand instead of picking from the orchards. This stand had a lot of variety, but it was super crowded so we didn’t spend as much time as we thought we would here. We also could not bring the dogs with us, so we didn’t want to spend a ton of time with the dogs in the car (with windows down and out of the sun).
3) Mt. View Orchards (#15 on the Fruit Loop map)
This was by far my favorite stop! First of all, the view of Mt. Hood is hard to beat as soon as you walk up, and this stand definitely felt the most like fall had arrived. They are also pet friendly, so Sooky and Milo were able to join us on this adventure! We decided to sample some apples and pears before heading out into the orchards to see which variety we wanted to pick. The employees made our experience amazing, recommending certain kinds, and letting us try as many as we wanted. After we picked our apples, we went to visit Carlos- the farm’s 16 year old steer. Sooky enjoyed meeting the animals (see picture below 😂) and it was fun to have her with us for this stop.
4) The Gorge White House (#2 on the Fruit Loop map)
We ended up driving the rest of the loop, and made our way back to the White House for dinner. Their food cart has amazing burgers and sandwiches, and after looking at the menu earlier in the day, we were all craving the White House Burger complete with caramelized onions, bacon, and garlic aeoli. They also have a variety of wine and hard cider, and I tried the Lemon Pear cider. It was definitely a unique cider, and tasted very refreshing at the end of a day of walking and exploring. We were also able to have the dogs with us while we ate, which was a perfect ending to the day.
There’s many more places I want to check out on the Fruit Loop, specifically Fox Tail Cider, Draper Girls County Farm, and a couple of the wineries further down the loop. We will definitely be back next spring and summer to check out everything Hood River has to offer. Who wants to come with us next time?