March in the North Country is maple sugaring time, when maple trees are tapped and the sap is boiled down to sweet amber syrup. For the 27th year, the Upper Hudson Maple Producers are hosting their annual open house weekends March 18-19 and 25-26.
Six sugar houses in Washington County, two in Warren County, and one in northern Saratoga County will welcome visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both weekends. Conditions permitting, wood and oil-fired evaporators will be reducing the collected sap to syrup. The woods outside may be snowy, but the sugar houses will be filled with fragrant steam. Visitors can watch the intricate process and purchase bottled syrup and maple goods such as candy, sugar, and cream. Sugar houses may also offer short walking tours of their sugarbush, maple recipes, wagon rides, and pancake breakfasts.
This year’s Washington County participants are Battle Hill Maple, Fort Ann; Dry Brook Sugar House, Salem; Grottolli’s Maple, Middle Granville; Mapleland Farms, Salem; Rathbun’s Maple Sugar House, Whitehall; and Wild Hill Maple, Salem. Todd Hill Maple and Valley Road Maple Farm, both in Thurman, are in Warren County, and Maple Valley Farm is in Corinth in northern Saratoga County.
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Pancake breakfasts with real maple syrup will be served at Dry Brook Sugar House, Grottoli’s Maple, Maple Valley Farm, and Rathbun’s Maple Sugar House. There is a fee for breakfast. Dry Brook Sugar House, Maple Valley Farm, and Rathbun’s Maple Sugar House will have wagon rides.
The self-guided tour is free. Outdoor activities depend on the weather, and boiling is based on how much sap the farm has on hand. For breakfast and the best chance to watch the boiling, plan on coming in the morning. Dress for cold, possibly damp weather and mud. Most sugar houses are on back roads, so have a good map or navigation system.
For more information about the tour and individual producers, visit https://upperhudsonmaple.com/spring-maple-open-house weekends/ or, for the Washington County Maple Trail, https://washingtoncounty.fun/new-york-maple-season-2021/. The tour is hosted by the New York State Maple Producers Association with funding from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.