March in upstate New York marks the start of maple sugar season! Boasting the largest crop of tappable maple trees in the United States, New York is a top producer of maple syrup and other maple products. In fact, the maple sugar industry is so valuable to New York State that the sugar maple tree was named the state tree in 1956 in recognition of its value as a natural resource.
Sap from maple trees is collected during the tapping season which is between February and April. These are the months when temperatures are above freezing during the day and below freezing at night, making the sap flow. You can tap syrup from any species of maple tree but some have lower concentrations of sugar than others.
Maple trees are tapped by drilling holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap, which is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup. It takes about 5.5 days for the average tree to produce about 40 gallons of sap which is enough for one gallon of syrup!
Maple trees are common throughout the Adirondack Park, making it a prime region of the state for maple sugar farming. Each year in early spring, local maple sugar producers harvest hundreds of gallons of sap from their maple sugar groves, also called sugar bushes, to boil and refine into syrup. The best part is that there are statewide celebrations in March, known as Maple Weekends, when maple sugar farms open their doors to guests. Visitors to participating sites on designated Maple Weekends can take part in tours, tastings, and other fun events like pancake breakfasts.
In Gore Region, Mountain Creek Maple (MCR Maple) in North Creek is hosting Maple Weekend events this year on March 21st and 22nd and March 28th and 29th from 10am-4pm each day. Activities include tours and demonstrations, and kids can play in a kid-friendly Maple Shack. After spending time outside, visitors to MCR Maple can warm up inside while reading stories about the maple syrup process, playing games, and sampling some tasty maple treats.
MCR Maple is a small-scale sugar operation focusing on educating the consumer from the sugar bush to the evaporator in their newly constructed sugar house. They are a new and growing business in the town of Johnsburg. They hope to develop the business to include educational tours, as well as selling foods from the Mountain Creek Ranch.
Maple enthusiasts can also swing by Thurman Maple Days in the Gore Region-adjacent town of Thurman. Thurman Maple Days takes place over three weekends: The 14th-15th, 21nd-22nd and 28th-29th of March.
Many Gore Region shops provide a wide variety of maple goods (especially this time of year) from coffees to chocolates to candies, baked goods to infused meats and of course syrup! Maple season is just one more reason to plan a trip to the Gore Region.