The U-Pick Fruit Loop Trail in Oregon

U-Pick Fruit Loop Trail in Oregon Hood River CountyOne fond memory of my own childhood is of driving to upstate New York to pick apples off the trees. But on the last year that I had visited the orchards, I found no pleasure in the activity. Perhaps it was the year that I had transitioned into adolescence. While I had grown insolent, it certainly didn’t help that the orchard employees had plucked the fruits themselves and had them available only in wooden bins, transforming the back-to-nature event into a three-hour car ride for an outdoor grocery store that sold one product. Gone were the days of apple picking; gone was childhood.

When I visited Oregon’s Hood River this past summer, I came across a map for the region’s U-pick Fruit Loop trail, just south of the township. I was intrigued by and dubious of the few dozen farms on the list. Now I was a father, and I didn’t want to promise my three-year-old daughter that we’d go fruit picking only to find piles of bruised fruit that had been fondled over in bins. (She already exhibited a precocious sauciness of her world.)


In any event, my wife and I took a chance and followed the Fruit Loop map, pledging nothing to our two children in the backseat. We stopped first at one of the farms that promised flowers, berries, and cider. I figured if we found a bunch of pre-stocked berry baskets, we’d fib to my toddler and tell her that Mommy and Daddy needed a morning hard cider. (Better to think her parents irresponsible lushes than crushers of dreams.)


But upon arrival, there were no baskets, just fields of flowers and berry bushes. Little red wagons were parked on the edge of the lot. Happily, Mommy and Daddy didn’t have to feign alcoholism. Instead, we plopped our three and one year old into a wagon. They giggled as we hit bumps and looked frightened as we hit bigger bumps. We stopped at the strawberries first, where they smiled as they picked the leftover runts. We moved onto the raspberry bushes filled with berries and bees. It was wonderful and worrying for all of us.


U-Pick Fruit Loop Trail in Oregon Hood River County


After berry picking, we drove the trail to the one alpaca farm on the map, where, up in the hills, baby alpacas roamed beside their elders. My daughters looked on in amazement at these strange looking sheep, or whatever it was they thought they were looking at.


“They’re like llamas,” I said.


“What’s a llama?” said the one child who could talk in sentences. The baby said, “Oooh.”


The things still unknown were beautiful.


“I’m scared,” my three year old said, after I tried to give her food to hold out for the alpaca. She held onto me instead and wouldn’t let go. One day, she would be that girl who knew what a llama was, who looked at pre-picked apples in bins and rolled her eyes at her parents. But at the alpaca farm, those eyes spoke of shock and innocence, fear and fascination, the very thing a parent longs to hold onto as their child experiences the world, slowly.


The Fruit Loop offered that speed and a lovely repetitiveness of u-pick fruit options and the quietness of farms. There were a few aberrations along the way, like wineries and cideries. When the hour seemed appropriate, my wife and I pulled off at one of those wineries, ordered a glass of Oregon’s famed pinot, segregated ourselves from the childless tipplers who harbored dirty looks, and watched our children continue to hone their picking skills–this time by harvesting stones from the dirt. I thought back on my own apple-picking days. Perhaps, this could be our family tradition, too. There was nothing better for a parent than to see that look of wonder in their children’s eyes, a look that had yet to escape my two daughters on this trail. But if it would become tradition, I’d always make certain to call ahead to ensure that fruit still clung to the trees.



Posted on by Noah Lederman in Baby Voyage

One Response to The U-Pick Fruit Loop Trail in Oregon

  1. Sam

    Great article…thanks

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