Maple Sugaring Weekends at Lake Metroparks Farmpark

One of my family’s favorite almost spring activities is Maple Sugaring Weekends at Lake Metroparks Farmpark. We have gone every year for five years, and each year we look forward to the next.


The Woodland Center at Lake Metroparks Farmpark

The majority of the maple sugaring events take place at the Woodland Center at the far side of Lake Farmpark. It is definitely walkable, and it is fun to check out all the farm animals in The Barnyard along the way. However, if you don’t want to make the trek with little ones in tow, you can get a lift on one of the wagons. The wagons are pulled by either horses or a tractor. My kids love the horses. There is something so peaceful about listening the constant clomp, clomp of their gate.

Horse-drawn Wagon Rides

Horse-drawn Wagon Rides

There are numerous activities at the Woodland Center. Some, such as syrup making and backyard sugaring, take place continuously throughout all or most of the day. Other activities occur only at specific times. Be sure to get a schedule of activities at the Visitor’s Center upon arrival so you don’t miss out on any of your favorites.

Backyard Sugaring

Backyard Sugaring

First we stopped outside the Woodland Center to learn about and view backyard sugaring. We sampled sap, and saw how it is slowly turned into syrup over the open fire. We learned that one of the ways pioneers tested syrup to see if it was done, was to form a loop with a small branch and dip it in the syrup. If you could blow a bubble with the syrup when you pulled out the loop, it was done. There were also samples of the backyard sugaring syrup. This syrup is darker than the syrup produced on Farmpark’s indoor equipment as it takes much longer to make resulting in more caramelized sugars.


Making Maple Syrup

We then went inside and learned about more modern methods of making syrup. They start with a reverse osmosis machine which separates much of the water from the sugar. This shortens the boiling time and save fuel, time, and labor. We learned it takes forty gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup! We then sampled some syrup made from this method and compared it to what we had tasted at the Backyard Sugaring demonstration.


An example of a Native American boiling trough. They used hot stones in the sap to boil away the water.

In the Woodland Center, they also have a History of Maple Sugaring exhibit. You can view tools that the Native Americans and Early Settlers used to make syrup. You can also participate in sugar bush tours, try your hand at hand tapping, and see a tree get tapped. There is also a maple candy making. Each of my kids loved this!


Maple stirs are cooked to a slightly higher temperature. The more you stir them, the creamier they become.


Lake Farmpark Maple Syrup


Maple Candy









At the Woodland Center you can also purchase maple syrup, maple candy, and maple stirs. The maple candy and maple stirs are $1 a piece. The syrup is priced according to size. I highly suggest the maple stirs, although the candy is awesome as well. You can always do what we did and purchase all three.

We then headed up the hill to the Plant Science Center. As we walked on the path through the woods we saw different methods of sap collection.

At the Plant Science Center, the were Johnnycake, cornmeal pancake, samples. Johnnycakes were a tribal stable for the Native Americans it was one of the foods they introduced to the early settlers.


Making Maple Candy

They also had two crafts available. Kids could make rubbings of maple leaves and make a mukuk, or bark, bucket.

During Maple Sugaring Weekends, J & J Cafe serves a pancake breakfast with Farmpark syrup, potatoes, bacon, and sausage for $7 for adults and $4 for kids 11 years and younger. Their full menu is also available at this time.

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Springtime (or almost springtime) at the farm means lots of baby animals. Make sure you stop by the Well Bred Shed and visit all of the babies. There were 2 litters of piglets, the most recent was born on February 3rd. There are also a ton of fluffy chicks. However, in my opinion the lambs really steal the show.

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Also be sure to check out the quilts on display in the Visitor Center through March 25th. They have a kid’s quilt quest where the kids look for different items such as butterflies, a koala, and a mermaid on the quilts. It’s a great way for the kids to have fun while looking at the gorgeous quilts.


25th Annual Quilt Show at Farmpark

All the maple sugaring activities are included with admission. Be sure to dress for the weather as many of the activities are outdoors or in barns. Although most of the paths are paved, some are dirt and can get muddy. Plan your footwear according. Maple Sugaring Weekends run through March 20, 2016.

I hope your family enjoys Maple Sugaring Weekends at Lake Metroparks Farmpark as much as mine does.

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