Autumn is prime time for foliage and fruit in Maine. Follow Route 11 north to get plenty of both.
Call it the road between the orchards. As Route 11 winds its way north and east through York and Cumberland counties in southwestern Maine, it offers sweeping views of mountains in Maine and New Hampshire and skirts the western side of Sebago Lake. And from Labor Day through Columbus Day, it is a great route for picking fresh apples.
Around Sanford, Maine
The journey begins in the village of Springvale, a part of Sanford. On Hanson Ridge Road to the south of town, McDougal Orchards is a family-owned orchard seven generations strong offering a bounty of apples, pears, berries, and free hayrides during the daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours. For more information, visit mcdougalorchards.com.
North and west of McDougal Orchards are Kelly Orchards and Romac Orchards. Both are slight detours off Route 11, they can be reached by following Route 109 a few miles west of the intersection of routes 11 and 109 at Mousam Lake. Both orchards are close to the New Hampshire border and feature views into the foothills of the White Mountains and area lakes.
Kelly Orchards features 17 apple varieties ripening throughout September and ships apple gift packs as well. Romac Orchards, just off Route 109, on H Road, is operated by the Sullivan and Waterman families and features seven varieties including golden delicious and macouns.
Northern York County Orchards
Northern York County is home to venerable orchards near or on Route 11. After leaving Sanford and Acton, follow Route 11 north at Mousam Lake for a gorgeous drive through Shapleigh and Newfield to Limerick.
In Limerick, continue on Route 11 through town and toward Limington and look for signs to Libby and Son U Picks. Located on Sawyer Mountain Road, the fruit is ripe and ready at Libby and Son U Picks, but owners warn customers to beware of GPS directions to the orchard as they may include routes over dirt roads. Instead, use directions found at libbysons.com.
The barn at Brackett’s Orchards is a landmark on Route 11 in Limington. One of the last orchards in the area to employ seasonal apple pickers, Brackett’s Orchards dates to the 1780s and is spread over 75 acres of land with mountain views and a convenient farm store with already picked apples and fresh cider.
Cumberland County Orchards
Route 11 crosses into Cumberland County at the Saco River. The road is now approaching the Sebago Lake area, but by bearing left in Baldwin where Route 107 and Route 11 meet, visitors will be on the way to Douglas Hill Orchards in Sebago and Five Fields Farm in Bridgton.
After about five miles along Route 107, turn left on Convene Road. Turn left again at Orchard Road to find the Douglas Hill Orchard, operated by John Lucy and his family. The orchard offers “you pick” selections from trees on both sides of the road, making for a fit late summer walk with a sweet reward at its conclusion.
As Rote 107 becomes South Bridgton Road, the red barns and buildings marking Five Fields Farm line both sides of the road. The farm is owned by Tom Gyger, instrumental in developing the annual Maine Apple Sunday where orchards welcome customers.
“Every commodity should have its day,” Gyger said in a 2009 interview while also offering advice to novice pickers.
“Don’t let go of the apple until you touch the bottom of the bag,” he said.
For a more complete listing of orchards throughout Maine and information on the annual Maine Apple Sunday, visit www.maineapples.org.