Ever since I moved to Lake County I have wanted to go on the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s Maple Syrup Hike. It combines two things I love, the science of food and getting outside! My oldest and I braved the weather last weekend to do one and it did not disappointed. You have two weekends left to join them this year and I suggest you register now!
The one hour program leaves from the Ryerson Woods Welcome Center every half hour from Noon – 2:00 p.m. Saturdays & Sundays through March 26, 2017. Registration is recommended but they will take walk-ins if there is room. Our hike was pretty full with everyone from young kids to retirees and families even a group that I think was a Wedding party!
The program starts indoors with a short talk about the types of maple trees syrup comes from, how they collect the sap as well as answering questions. Fun fact maple syrup season is only about 3 weeks long and each tree will produce about 10 gallons of sap.
The highlight of the class portion is the tasting. Everyone gets a sample of sap and syrup to taste, and see the difference as we learn about the process. If you have never had real maple syrup, get on that! We actually had a group in our session that brought pancakes with! However if you have allergies or food sensitivities do not worry, you don’t have to taste and there is no other food involved.
After the class you head out for the hike, it’s a short walk but it is uneven surfaces through the woods. You need to be prepared for the weather and dressed appropriate, because it runs no matter the weather.
Once in the sugar maple forest the guide will point out the buckets, show you the sap, ours was frozen, and then lead you to a small clearing where they will show you the inside of a tree, how spile works and give everyone a chance to tap their sample tree. The trees themselves are actually tapped in February before the hikes start but the training log will give you a good idea of the process.
The hikes finish at the large stove where they cook down the sap to make e syrup. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup and takes about a day to make. If you boil even longer get maple sugar and everyone is offered a taste of maple sugar candy before they leave.
Here a quick video of our hike:
We had a great time and will probably do this again and again. We learned so much and had a great experience.
Lake County Forest Preserve District
Maple Syrup Hikes
Saturdays and Sundays, March 11–26, 2017
12:00 – 2:00 p.m.