*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.
Spring is in the air in Ontario’s Highlands – especially in the sugarbush – and we are ready to celebrate. This is the time of year when we typically head out to a sugarbush to see how syrup is made, to sample taffy, have a pancake breakfast, and pick up some maple syrup to last us a few months.
This year not all sugarbushes will be welcoming visitors, but that doesn’t mean we need to do without our annual maple fix; there are plenty of maple-inspired activities and experiences you can have at home or in your community.
Instead of travelling this spring, bring the sugarbush home with one of these COVID-friendly maple-licious ideas.
Bring Brunch Home
It’s true there aren’t many sugarbushes offering pancake breakfasts this year (although there are still a few around, see below) that doesn’t mean you need to ditch this fun springtime tradition. You can make an epic pancake brunch with all the fixings from the comfort of your own home.
These Ontario’s Highlands’ sugarbushes have created fun at-home breakfast bundles that will keep your sweet tooth satisfied. The best part is most of these packages are available for online ordering and shipping, so you won’t even need to change out of your comfy clothes to get one.
- Fulton’s Breakfast
Choose between family-sized, romantic couples, or personal breakfast bundles so everyone can have a fun at-home experience. Order through the website. Bundles can be shipped and vary in products.
- Temple’s Breakfast
You can choose from ordering a take-out pancake brunch to pick up at Temple’s Sugarbush Fridays to Sundays or make your brunch at home with Temple’s at-home kit that includes pancake mix, granola, maple syrup and maple butter. Both can be ordered through their e-commerce website here.
- Wintergreen Breakfast
Take home a frozen breakfast complete with pancakes, French toast, waffles, sausages, and maple syrup. Order by calling Wintergreen directly at 705-286-3202.
Order Syrup Online
It’s been a full year since the last crop of maple syrup was bottled and we’re more than ready for the new batch, fresh and hot from the evaporator. Don’t worry, pandemic or not, maple syrup producers across the region are here for you.
You can order syrup online for curbside pick-up or shipping straight to your door. Visit the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association’s website to use the interactive map and find a producer near you. If you live in the Haliburton Highlands’ area and want to find a sugarbush close to home, they have created an easy-to-use reference for local sugarbushes (thanks guys!).
Experience the Sugarbush
While many sugarbushes aren’t offering tours or pancake breakfasts this spring, there are still some folks who are creating COVID-compliant experiences for visitors. Check with the sugarbush you plan to visit before you head out for up-to-date info on what they are offering for visits. Here are a couple of locations that are booking tours and and/or pancake breakfasts.
- Haliburton Forest
Yours Outdoors has created a sweet experience in Haliburton Forest, aptly named the “Maple Slurp.” Take a tour of the sugarbush and the rustic sugar shack, taste various maple products and leave with a culinary treat from The Cookhouse. You’ll get a chance to taste syrup from producers, and maybe even sample some birch sap while you’re there. Wrap your visit up with pancakes, snacks, or dessert. Plan to spend three hours here and it’s BYOS (Bring Your Own Snowshoes) or rent some from Yours Outdoors for $10.
- Wheelers Maple
You can still eat-in at the sugarbush pancake house with reservations. The pancake house is open between Thursdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 613-278-2090 to reserve a spot. The network of trails through the hardwood forest are open for reserved guests to use as well.
- Fulton’s Sugarbush
Purchase a day or month-long pass to the sugarbush and take advantage of their wooded trails (and pick up some syrup or a breakfast kit at the same time).
- Esson Creek Maple
In Haliburton Highlands, Esson Creek Maple is offering a sugarbush tour for one couple or one family for $45. The tour includes a walking tour through the sugarbush, sugar on snow, and a bottle of syrup to take home. It’s a sweet excursion with big rewards. Pre-registration is required.
Do It Yourself (seriously)
If you have access to a maple tree you can make your own syrup in your own backyard! Talk about living the sweet life and that life can be yours this spring. Tapping a tree and making syrup is easier than it sounds, and you’ll love how delicious freshly boiled syrup tastes, straight from tree to table. Your kids will love it, too! All the taffy you can eat…yum.
You can purchase a do-it-yourself tap-a-tree starter kit from Fulton’s Sugarbush that includes a tap, line, a colouring book and children’s book, and a small bottle of maple syrup and maple water, along with instructions for how to tap your first tree. This is a great package to get kids as enthusiastic about maple syrup as you are.
Looking for more maple? Read this:
5 ways to experience maple that go beyond your stack of pancakes.