It’s maple syrup season, a sweet inspiration to get your family outside.
Over the next few weeks, you can watch sap being boiled down to syrup and taste the delicious results at sugarhouses across New England. Combine the visit with a hike or farm tour and you will warm your muscles as well as your palate.
Environmental groups—including one that has tapped trees right in the city of Somerville, Mass.—are offering special celebrations of the season, which are great for kids. I’ve listed a few below, by location and date.
If my list doesn’t show anything near you, try visiting the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association website, which has a directory and map of sugarhouses in the state. Other states, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have similar associations.
Wednesday, February 27
Friday, March 1
Saturday, March 17, and Sunday, March 18
Special programs for kids at Mass Audubon’s educational Drumlin Farm include Sip Some Sap, a tour and tasting for ages 3 to 12, with an adult, on February 27 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Fee; advance registration required. On Friday, March 1, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., Maple Magic is a similar program that welcomes children under 3 as well as the older ones. Fee; registration required.
On March 17 and 18, visitors of all ages may take a tour of the sugar bush and see sap being collected and boiled down before or after enjoying the annual Sap to Syrup Farmer’s Breakfast. The tour includes visits to other spring delights, such as the first baby animals of the season. Programs run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. both days. Fee; reservations required.
Saturday, March 2, and Sunday, March 3
Saturday, March 9, and Sunday, March 10
Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17
Visit Mass Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary for one-hour naturalist-guided tours that set out at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Learn to identify a sugar maple, observe tapping and sap collection, watch the sap being boiled down, and enjoy a taste of the resulting syrup. Then warm up by the woodstove in the barn, where soups, desserts, and hot dogs cooked in syrup will be available. Syrup will be for sale in limited quantities. Fee and registration are required, although children under 3 (riding in a backpack for the walk) may attend for free.
Saturday, March 9
Go to Groundwork Somerville’s annual Maple Syrup Boil Down to watch as sap from local city trees (including some on the campus of Tufts University) is boiled down to create syrup, using equipment made and maintained by Somerville High School students. Free syrup tasting, music, and children’s activities, with waffles and syrup available for sale. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Somerville Community Growing Center on Vinal Avenue (near Union Square).
Saturday, March 9
The Mass Audubon Blue Hills Trailside Museum and the commonwealth’s Department of Conservation and Recreation offer a variety of activities at the annual Maple Sugar Days at Brookwood Farm, including making maple syrup. Free shuttle rides are offered on the “Maple Express Trolley.” From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Fee; no registration required.
Saturday, March 9
Saturday, March 16
At Mass Audubon’s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, the whole family can try a few sugaring activities, hear stories, and visit the tapped sugar trees on the property. Of course, the event will include boiling down sap and tasting syrup. On March 9, two sessions will be offered—one from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, the other from 1 to 3 p.m. On March 16, one session is offered, from 10 a.m. to noon. Fee; registration required.
Also, on Tuesday, March 12, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., Habitat will offer The Secret Life of Maple Syrup, a program for children 6 to 10 years old. Fee; registration required.
Sunday, March 10
Wednesday, March 13
Saturday, March 16, Sunday, March 17
At Mass Audubon’s Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, re-enactors in period garb lead 90-minute tours about American Indian and colonial sugaring techniques on March 10, 16, and 17. Visitors can also see sap made into syrup at a modern sugarhouse and sample the final product. Pancakes with syrup, “sap dogs” (hot dogs boiled in sap), and maple popcorn will be available for sale. Burn off any excess energy with a hike on one of the numerous trails. Pre-registration is highly recommended; the event is free for children ages 3 and under and runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
On Wednesday, March 13, the sanctuary is offering Sap to Syrup, a program about maple sugaring for children 4 to 6 years old, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and again from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Pre-registration and fee required.
Photo by Jerry and Marcy Monkman.
Great Kids, Great Outdoors is an Appalachian Mountain Club blog, written by Heather Stephenson.