Maple sugaring is an iconic Adirondack rite of passage. The process of extracting sap from a maple tree and getting it to the pancakes on your table is pretty much the same as it has been for hundreds of years. After choosing which trees to tap, a hole is drilled and a tap inserted. When the days warm up, the sap begins to flow into either a bucket or vacuum tubing to be collected; sap is boiled, water is evaporated and syrup is bottled. There is a little more to it if a producer factors in new technology like a reverse osmosis machine and energy efficient evaporator, but you get the idea!
Did you know? The best time to put taps in the maple trees is when spring temperatures hover at 20 degrees F. Any colder than that and you may split the tree. That would be a bad thing.
The Town of Thurman is home to four maple sugar producers who open their doors to visitors in late March and early April to celebrate this naturally sweet season. Thurman Maple Days transforms a peaceful Adirondack town into a bustling hive of activity on March 19-20, March 26-27 and April 2-3, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day.
Did you know? I Love New York has recognized Thurman Maple Days as a premier spring tourism event! What’s not to love about that?
Let’s start with pancakes, fluffy pancakes just flipped on the griddle. With a side of Oscar’s sizzling maple smoked sausage links. And drizzled with pure Adirondack maple syrup. Oh my, if this is a dream you won’t want to wake up. It’s not a dream, it’s breakfast at Valley Road Maple Farm in Thurman, and it’s only one of the ways to start your Maple Days Road Trip. Between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday during Maple Days, Mike Hill will be flipping the pancakes and the Upper Hudson Maple Queen will help serve up this scrumptious breakfast. While you’re there, take a walk back to the sugar bush and spy a few of the 3,400 taps that coax the sap from the tree to the vacuum assist tubes and then back to the sugarhouse for processing. Ralph Senecal will be happy to take you on a tour of the sugarhouse and explain the reverse osmosis process that essentially takes most of the water out of the sap and speeds up syrup production, making his job much easier in recent years.
Valley Road is the exclusive syrup producer for Oscar’s Smokehouse in Warrensburg. Their syrup is infused with bacon flavor, making it an Adirondack treat that can’t be duplicated. Grab a jug before you leave! And don’t forget to take a look at the tap display that is framed by the door and see how taps have changed over the years. Ask the kids if they know what’s in the frame.
After leaving Valley Road you can swing over to Hidden Hollow Maple Farm where Charles Wallace will tell you about his 3-generation farm that includes 6,000 taps and produces 2,000 gallons of syrup in a typical season. There are two sugar bushes at Hidden Hollow; sap from one is collected remotely and trucked back to the sugarhouse; sap from the other is pumped back to the sugar house where all sap is boiled and barreled.
Did you know? It takes 45 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.
Hidden Hollow products include syrup in jugs or decorative glass bottles, maple roasted peanuts, maple jelly or cinnamon maple sugar. This pure maple syrup can be found in the dining hall at SUNY Oswego and at Taste New York events throughout the state, including the State Fair. Psssst. Head to our Pinterest page @Lake George Area to find a favorite maple sugar cookie recipe!
Do you remember driving through the countryside and noticing buckets on maple trees? Join the Kenyon family at Adirondack Gold Maple Farm to see their old-fashioned bucket taps and you can imagine trudging from tree to tree on snowshoes to gather sap buckets. Take a step back in time as you enter the old sugarhouse, made with hand-hewn beams, and inhale the sweet smell of boiling sap. “Tapper” will walk you through the process of tapping, gathering and stoking the evaporator to boil it into syrup.
Compare this to the bright blue tubing that ripples from tree to tree and the brand new stainless steel evaporator in the new sugarhouse. Any way you bottle it, it’s maple sweetness at its finest.
A bit of trivia: The Kenyons decided to name their farm after they visited California and panned for gold. If you hold a bottle of syrup up to the sunlight, you’ll understand why they call it “Adirondack Gold”.
What started out as a childhood hobby for Randy Galusha has become a lifelong passion. Welcome to Toad Hill Maple Farm. The Galusha family has been tapping for over 40 years on 850-acres of land. The new timber frame sugarhouse is considered a local architectural masterpiece, but this dream didn’t come to fruition until 2010. Prior to that, syrup was processed in a small sugarhouse with an oil-fired evaporator that used 26 gallons of oil an hour! Randy applied for and received a USDA “Rural Energy for America” grant in May of that year. The grant allowed him to purchase a reverse osmosis machine and high-efficiency wood-fired evaporator.
Did you know? Reverse osmosis removes as much as 90% of the water from the maple sap, speeding up the production process.
At the same time the Galushas decided to build a customer-friendly facility that would welcome visitors to the maple farm year after year. White pine from the property was cut and milled into the timbers for the building that stands today. This is truly a sustainable local business, with new features and activities added each season. See a diorama inside the sugarhouse that depicts the sap gathering process, then step into the kitchen where syrup is bottled, candies are made and tastings are offered. Wear a warm jacket for a wagon ride on a crisp spring day and check your watch at noon and 2:00 p.m. for the trebuchet launch. (What’s a trebuchet, you ask? It’s basically a large catapult. Line up to trigger the launch and watch a piece of firewood fly through the air and into the distant field! The kids will love it, and so will you.)
Note: You can grab a DSL signal at Toad Hill, so take some pictures and post them using #ThurmanMapleDays
Did you know? The color of the maple syrup is an indicator of its flavor intensity. The darker the syrup, the more robust the flavor.
Let’s get this party started! The Thurman Maple Sugar Party, that is! On Saturday, March 19 you are cordially invited to Thurman Town Hall beginning at 4:00 p.m. Join this 57th annual all-you-can-eat buffet for $10/adult and $5/children ages 6-11. What a deal! Dessert is none other than Jack Wax itself (pure maple syrup poured on snow that becomes a taffy-like treat!) Entertainment all night by the Hod Ovitt and the Warren County Ramblers! Where else can you have this much fun on a Saturday night in March? Proceeds from the party benefit the American Cancer Society.
If you are heading north on Valley Road, swing into Martin’s Lumber, a sustainable tree farm and lumber mill. Using a bandsaw, both hardwood and softwood that are selectively cut on the property are rough-sawn and boast beautiful grain, interesting knots and some of the maples bear signs of tapping from years gone by. While you are there, peruse the selection of paper bead earrings made in front of your eyes, stained glass stepping stones and new this year, meet John Los, a woodworker who carves spoons, cutting boards, rolling pins and more!
The fun doesn’t stop here. Be sure to include a visit to Nettle Meadow Farm where you can meet sanctuary animals and sample artisan cheeses, including their maple chevre, a seasonal favorite; and award-winning Kunik, a triple cream wheel made from Jersey cow cream and goat’s milk. Lorraine and Sheila welcome you each weekend, but are closed on Easter Sunday. (If it’s not on your calendar already, add the 3rd Annual Nettle Meadow Cheese and Spirits Pairing on June 18. This event pairs award-winning Nettle Meadow cheeses with locally crafted spirits and takes place in the loft of the historic gambrel roofed barn.)
If you have a few extra minutes, the Peru Llama Farm is offering llama kisses all day, along with a hay crawl for the kids. Make sure you bring a camera!
Important Note: You may not be able to rely on cell service to navigate the roads of Thurman. Download this map and save it to your phone. Maple Days volunteers will post signs all over town to make each stop easy to find, so drive assured.
Another note: You can find a Wi-Fi hot spot at the Thurman Town Hall on Glen-Athol Road.
And just one more note: Thurman is about a 20-minute drive from Lake George.
Thurman is sustainable tourism at its finest. Come to Maple Days and check it out!
Up Yonda Farm in Bolton Landing has its own sugar house and taps, collects and boils sap to syrup during their “Maple Sugar Basics” program which is offered each Saturday in March. Cost $4 per person.
The Maple in April Festival in Hadley is now in its 13th year. This annual event celebrates sweet fun for everyone, a car show, crafts, face painting and pony rides. Mark your calendar for April 30 – May 1.
Oscar’s Smokehouse in Warrensburg is not only a favorite local smokehouse, but also features maple smoked sausage and bacon, and Valley Road syrup flavored with bacon.
Springbrook Hollow in Queensbury is a farm distillery producing handcrafted spirits using local grains and fruits. Their “Howl at the Maple Moonshine” blends moonshine and maple syrup from Adirondack Gold Maple Farm that will remind you of sugar on snow with every sip.
Maple Days is part of the First Wilderness Heritage Corridor, which represents communities along the Hudson River, upstream from Glens Falls and west of Lake George. These communities have joined together to celebrate their shared history along the earliest route into the heart of the Adirondack wilderness.
The Upper Hudson Maple Producers represent 50 maple producers across six counties including Warren and Washington. Even MORE maple opportunities to experience, if you can imagine that!
Click here to enter our Maple Giveaway Basket:
The Town of Thurman also hosts a Fall Farm Tour on October 8th . This 7-farm tour includes maple producers, a goat farm, pancake breakfast, scarecrow contest, cheese tasting, a tree farm, children’s activities, BBQ dinner and gorgeous fall foliage. Y’all come back now.