Maple sugaring has become a popular activity for all ages here in NJ. This now wildly popular activity actually originated many centuries ago and was practiced among Native American groups and colonists. Maple sugaring is the process of taking the sap from maple trees to later create maple sugar. From early February until mid-March, the maple sugaring season is at its peak in New Jersey.
As there are no actual commercial maple sugar farms in the Garden State, different parks, educational and nature centers have begun performing maple sugaring demonstrations. With that being said, here are some maple sugaring locations you can go to here in NJ.
Environmental Education Center
Basking Ridge, NJ
Starting Feb. 19, families can enjoy a one-hour outdoor program at the Environmental Education Center. The center recommends you dress for the weather by wearing your winter gear. It is also recommended that you arrive 20 to 30 minutes early to ensure ample time to hike to the center’s “Sugar Shack.” Tickets will start at the price of $6 for both students and senior citizens and $7 for adults.
This program will only be available on Saturdays and Sundays until Feb. 27. Different time slots are accessible between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. To register for tickets, you can go on the Somerset County Park Commission site. Online registration is open until 24 hours before the program is scheduled to start.
Echo Hill Park
This particular maple sugaring location in NJ has been designed especially for children, aptly named, “Nature Kids: Maple Sugaring.” The event will only be taking place Feb. 20, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a limited class size of 10. The class will be led by park naturalist, Debra Reed, who will conduct a maple sugaring-inspired story time, nature walk and craft time.
However, every child that attends has to be accompanied by an adult. “Nature Kids” is geared towards children between the ages 4 and 8. Registration starts at $5 per child while the accompanying adult attends for free. Pre-registration is required for this event. You can find more information here on how to register.
Rancocas Nature Center
At this nature center located in southern New Jersey, you and your family can get a glimpse into the history of maple sugaring. This event will be conducted as a self-guided hike. A map of their trails will be provided so you can visit many of their interactive stations. There will even be a section of the hike where you will get the chance to have a tasting of maple sap.
It will only take place Feb. 20 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Registration can be done through email, which can be accessed on their site. If you are a member of the Rancocas Nature Center, prices will start at $8 per person and $25 per family (limit five people). Non-members will have to pay $10 per person and $35 per family (limit five people). Payment will be accepted when you arrive at the center.
Miller-Cory House Museum
On March 27, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., the Miller-Cory House Museum welcomes families to attend their “Maple Sugar Sunday” event. This educational program will teach their attendees all of the techniques used when it came to maple sugaring during colonial times. There will also be a featured maple sugar story time and a related craft activity suitable for children. Another segment that will be presented is an open hearth cooking demonstration led by professional chefs.
The museum will also be offering short tours of their “fully furnished 1740 farmhouse.” Adults and children over 13 will have to pay a $5 fee. Children ages three to 12 are priced a $3 fee and any child younger than three can visit for free. Visit their website for more information here.
The Watershed Center
Taking place on Feb. 12 and Feb. 19, the Watershed Center will be hosting an indoor and outdoor maple sugaring event. It will be led by Pat Heaney who is an Assistant Director of Education. Participants will embark on a hike to see a live demonstration of maple sugaring. Towards the end of the program, you will get to try a sample. As a fun reminder of your maple sugaring activity, special patches with the phrase “Maple Sugaring” and a fun graphic will be available to purchase at their gift shop.
The Feb. 12 date has a time slot at 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. While, the Feb. 19 date will take place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. There is a $10 fee for adults and children ages five and older. The Watershed Center requires registration and payment prior to attending.
Happy Day Farm
Happy Day Farm is known to celebrate seasonal events year round by offering activities like pumpkin picking to berry picking. Now for the upcoming month of March, they will be giving tours of their Maple Sugar Shack. This maple sugaring demonstration will be taking place on March 12 and 13 then later on March 19 and 20 at 10 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. Attendees will also get to experience a tractor ride that will go all around their 130-acre farm. You will also have the chance to purchase both pancakes and maple syrup to satisfy your sweet cravings.
Visitors can expect to see Happy Day Farm’s “sugar bush,” see what kind of tools are used to collect sap, learn how to distinguish maple trees, and get hands on experience with the “tapping” process. Later, this sap is used to produce maple syrup. Admission is $17 per person while children aged one and under can go in for free. Cash is the only form of payment accepted at Happy Day Farm. Check out their website for more information.
Reeves Reed Arboretum
This Summit-based arboretum will be having their “Maple Sugaring Fest” for one day only on March 6. There is an option of three different time slots for this event: 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. The “Maple Sugaring Fest” will take place entirely outdoors. Families will get to hike on the area’s trails, enjoy some hot chocolate, buy from maple vendors, and even take part in their “Maple Sugaring Challenge.”
Members of Reeves Reed Arboretum can start registering on Jan. 31 at 9 a.m., while non-members can register on Feb. 7 at 9 a.m. Admission fees for members and children under the age of three are free of charge. On the other hand, non-members will have to pay a $5 fee per person.
Thinking of going to any of these maple sugaring places in NJ? Let us know in the comments!
Main image by diapicard