The Free George Guide to the Best Pumpkin Picking Patches Up and Down the Northway
From Exit 1 to Exit 38 on the Thruway, you’ll find plenty of places to find your perfect pumpkin picking experience this October. Whether it’s a simple farm stand you’re seeking, with affordable locally grown pumpkins, a horse drawn wagon ride to the pumpkin patch or a haunted 7-acre corn maze, there are plenty of options to cover a broad range of pumpkin picking budgets and tastes this Halloween season.
Just south of Albany is the exit for Altamont, where you’ll find Indian Ladder Farms. Their large pumpkin patch is accessible via a hayride, allowing for a fun pick your own experience, where you can purchase small pumpkins for $1. In addition to pumpkins, the farm also grows apples, winter squash, fall ornamentals, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, heirloom tomatoes, assorted summer vegetables and herbs. They also have a market of locally-produced products, including milk, cream, ice cream, cheeses, eggs, flour, fresh fruit and produce, along with maple products, honey, preserves, dressings, salsas, chutneys, breads and pies. There’s also a gift shop featuring fair trade gifts and the work of local artisans, as well as a petting zoo and Barn School, for those interested in learning more about farm animals. The pick your own patch is open daily from 9am to 4:30pm. For more information, visit www.indianladderfarms.com or call 518-765-2956.
Located off Exit 7, just a quick drive to Troy, is Engelke Farm. During the month of October, the farm is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm, offering free hayrides to its pumpkin patch, where you can pick your own pumpkins at 50 cents per pound. Adventurous types have the option to take an alternate route to the patch, via the farm’s 2000+ foot Zip Ride, which also happens to be the longest zip ride in Upstate NY ($10 one way or $25/hour). The farm also has a corn maze that’s open daily and on Fridays and Saturdays from 7pm-10pm ($5), as well as a haunted hayride from 7pm-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays ($15). Parties of 10 or more will receive a 10% discount, as well as free use of the Greenhouse party room. For more information, visit www.engelkefarm.com or call 518-270-3971.
A short ride from Exit 8, Bowman’s Orchard in Rexford offers the whole autumn shebang, with pick your own pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, pick your own apples, cider, donuts, baked goods, ice cream, fudge, a concession stand serving up burgers and more, a large farm market, plus activities for grown-ups and children alike. There are horse drawn hay rides, an apple playland and farm animals, and an apple cannon. Admission to Bowman’s is free, but some of the activities cost a small fee. Pumpkins of many different sizes and varieties cost 52 cents per pound and can be picked from the patch or purchased pre-picked from the farm’s market. Although Bowman’s is a large and busy orchard, it also has plenty of friendly staff and a computerized check out system. It’s open 10am-5pm daily. Visit their website at www.bowmanorchards.com or call 518-371-2042 for more information.
In Ballston Spa, not far from Exit 12 you’ll find Ellms Family Farm, featuring a “not too spooky” for the little ones (think ages 2-7) pumpkin patch decorated for Halloween. Pumpkins are 53 cents per pound. In addition to its pumpkin patch, Ellms Family Farm also offers a number of other attractions for small fees: corn mazes for $1, a corn cannon for $1.50, and small bags of feed may be purchased to feed the goats. Other family attractions include the “jumping pillow,” a magic maze slide, a box of corn kernels for toddler play, the MooMooChooChoo and a tractor tire jump. If you work up an appetite, cider, cider donuts, hot dogs, chili and soup are on the menu. Halloween hayrides will run throughout the month of October on Friday and Saturday evenings. Tickets for the hayride are $8.50 per person, with children under two riding free. The hours are Saturday and Sunday and Columbus Day 10am to 5pm, with a moonlight maze Friday & Saturday, October 22nd and 23rd, from 7pm to 10pm. Advance reservations are required for the hayrides, which run three times a night each Friday and Saturday during October. For more information or to make hayride reservations, visit the website at www.ellmsfarms.com or call 518-884-8168.
Not far from Exit 15 in Schuylerville, you’ll come upon Schuyler Farms, just up the road from Saratoga Apple. The farm features free tractor-pulled hayrides to its pumpkin patch where you can choose your own reasonably pre-priced pumpkin. This is very handy, because by having the pumpkins already priced in the field, you can avoid the situation of getting your pumpkin from the patch and to the scale only to discover that it weighed (and cost) twice as much as you guessed it would! Schuyler Farms also offers a free petting zoo, a bounce house ($2), a miniature golf course ($4), a 7-acre corn maze featuring an original maze design each each year, ($7, ages 4 and under free), a corn cannon, a 70-foot super slide, a farm stand, a gift and rock shop, and hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages at the Cornfield Cafe. For the brave, the “Field of Screams” corn maze (in its haunted form) is open every Friday and Saturday night of October. Schuyler Farms is open Thursdays 4pm-7pm, Fridays 4pm-10pm, Saturdays 10am-10pm, and Sundays and Columbus Day 11am-6pm. For more information, visit www.schuylerfarms.com or call 518-695-5308.
In Queensbury, right on the county line and not far from Exit 19 Kelly’s Emerald Feeds Farm Stand awaits you, offering a large selection of pumpkins priced at $6 or less. While in the past Kelly’s Emerald Feeds has offered the opportunity to pick pumpkins right from their patch, the deer were getting into the patch more than usual this year, so the proprietors went ahead and picked the remaining 200 to 250 pumpkins and brought them up to the stand. The farm stand also sells decorative corn stalks and mums, local tomatoes, squash and apples, frozen homemade pies and its own honey. Kelly’s Emerald Feeds is located at 672 County Line Road in Queensbury and is open from 8am to 7pm Monday through Saturday, and 10am to 5pm on Sunday. Call 518-793-5474 for more information.
Off of Exit 26 in the scenic hamlet of Olmstedville, It’s About Thyme Farm awaits you, offering the largest pumpkin patch in the Eastern Adirondacks with 8 acres of pumpkins. Admission is free and includes access to the ‘”scarecrow walk,” a set of beautiful marked hiking trails decorated for the season. The pumpkins are priced by size, with a good basketball-sized pumpkin running about $5. On weekends, the farm offers free donuts and cider to its visitors, and guests are invited to bring a picnic and take their time enjoying the trails and the pumpkin patch. In addition to a variety of pumpkins, It’s About Thyme Farm sells hardy mums, gourds, squash for decoration and cooking, decorative corn stalks, hay bales, pumpkin carving kits and halloween decorations. The farm is open 9am to 5pm daily through October 30th. Visit www.itsaboutthymefarm.com or call 518-251-5297 for more information.
In Peru, both Rulf’s Orchard off of Exit 35 and Applejack’s Orchard off of Exit 36 offer pick your own pumpkins. At Rulf’s this year, $8 will get you a tractor drawn wagon ride to the pumpkin patch and your choice of any pumpkin, no matter the size. At the farm stand pre-picked pumpkins sell for 40 cents a pound, up to $8. Pumpkin rides are every weekend from 10am to 5pm Rulf’s also features pick your own apples, fresh cider, a corn maze ($4 for ages 4-12 and $6 for over 12), a farm stand and a bakery with freshly made pies and donuts, mums, gardening plants and shrubs. On October 16th and 23rd, the corn maze will feature “flashlight nights”–bring your own or purchase one there–from 5 p.m to 9 p.m. Visit www.rulfsorchard.com or call 518-643-8636 for more information.
Applejack’s Orchard off of Exit 36 is open daily from 10am to 5pm with tractor drawn hayrides from 11am to 5pm on weekends. It offers pick your own pumpkins and apples, plus a hay maze, petting zoo and country gift shop featuring baked goods, cider and local honey. For more information, visit www.applejacksorchard.com or call 518-643-2268.
The new pumpkin patch and corn maze at Country Dreams Farm off of Exit 38N in Plattsburgh is enjoying a busy first year. Pick your own pumpkins are $5 and include a horse drawn wagon tour of the farm and a children’s hay maze. The corn maze is also $5. The working farm has a large number and variety of animals, including goats, pot-bellied pigs, cows, chickens, draft horses and draft mules for guests to visit. The hours are Friday through Sunday from 10am to dusk, weather permitting. Check the website for special events and demonstrations: www.countrydreamsfarm.com, or call toll free 888-818-2701.
–LaDelle Dautremont is a Contributor to The Free George.
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