Lake County Forest Preserve District – Maple Syrup Hikes

Riverwoods, IL

One of the things I have wanted to do since I moved to Lake County is 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 a few years go to do one and it did not disappoint. Registration for this year’s hikes has started and I suggest you register now!

LCFPD maple syrup hikes

The one hour program leaves from the Ryerson Woods Welcome Center every half hour from Noon – 2:00 p.m. Saturdays & Sundays March 7 through March 22. There is also a special Spring Break Syruping hike on March 24. 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.

lcfpd maple syrup hikes

The highlight of the class portion is the tasting. Everyone gets a sample of sap and syrup to taste, to 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! If you have allergies or food sensitivities do not worry, you do not 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 appropriately 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 the 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.

lcfpd maple syrup hikes
© M. Haak | Little Lake

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 7 – 22, 2020
12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Spring Break Syruping
March 24, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods
$6 per person, children 3 and younger are free
Registration is required, walk-ins will only be allowed as space permits.

Have you been on a Maple Syrup Hike?

Lake County Forest Preserve District - Maple Syrup Hikes
About Melissa Haak 626 Articles
Melissa is mom to 4. She used to dream of traveling the world, now she dreams of a clean kitchen. She can be found on most social media sites as @PBinmyHair because with this much hair and four kids, you're bound to find something in it.

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