Photo By Rebecca Johnson: Paige Sullivan, of Tucson, sets her eye on a Red Delicious.
By Jon Johnson
MOUNT GRAHAM – For 96 years, the family-run Angle Orchard on Mount Graham has weathered storms, chilly winters, unproductive yields, pests, droughts, and last year, extreme fire threat.
However, the organic orchard located near Noon Creek continues to be a rite of fall and a thrill of both young and old as families forge traditions of picking peaches and fruit from the orchard.
The apple-season is in its second half, but there are still great pieces to pick as one meanders throughout the orchard picking from a variety of apple trees.
The legend of the orchard began with a logger who disposed of a peach pit near Ladybug Trail in the early 1900s. The pit grew into a fruit-bearing tree and withstood the frigid mountain winters to produce a sweet, delectable peach.
In 1922, Andrew Preston Angle tasted the fruit and made up his mind to plant an orchard in the same area. He and his wife, Viola Cooper Angle, obtained a 12-acre lease from the United States Forest Service and began planting apple, pear, and peach seedlings from a nursery in Louisiana.
Angle Orchard is located in the Coronado National Forest on Mount Graham, roughly 7.4 miles west on State Route 366 (Swift Trail) from the intersection with U.S. Highway 191. Just past Noon Creek is a sign directing traffic to take a left (south) turn on a dirt road that leads to the orchard.
While we at the Gila Herald think the fun is in the picking, the orchard also offers already picked and boxed apples.
Currently, prices are 75 cents per pound for apples customers pick themselves and $1 per pound for pre-picked and boxed apples, with a 40-pound box going for $30. Only cash and checks are accepted at the orchard, so be adequately prepared.
While all the Arkansas Black apples were picked clean in September, the orchard still has plenty of Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Blushing Golden, and Fuji apples available.
The orchard is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 3 – 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The orchard can be reached by calling 928-322-2769 or by sending them a message on its Facebook page.