The sap is running and it’s time for the annual ritual of making maple syrup! If you want to experience this spring tradition and savour an iconic Canadian flavour, the Muskoka Maple Trail & Festival is the place to be. Now in its second year, the festival kicks off with the Maple Trail where you can tailor your own itinerary by choosing from over 50 maple destinations.
Your maple trail adventure would not be complete without a visit to the sugar bush – the heart of the action. Watch as the sap drips steadily into buckets hanging from majestic maple trees and then follow the sweet aroma of boiling sap to the sugar shack. Inside, the sap is boiled in large pans, usually over a hand fed fire, where up to 40 litres of sap are reduced to make every litre of syrup.
At Sugarbush Hill Maple Farms, three generations of the Stehr family make maple syrup and other delicious maple treats from 100 acres of maple bush outside of Huntsville. Boiled traditionally with wood, the pride and care put into each batch of syrup is evident in the quality of their products. This state of the art sugaring operation produces more than just syrup, with a variety of delicious maple treats available from their on-site store.
Brooklands Farm is a sixth generation family farm located outside of Bracebridge. The farm produces syrup made using traditional principles with 21st century technology. Visitors are welcomed throughout the sugaring season to walk through the bush and visit the sugar shack first hand.
Maple Bluff Farm is a small, family run maple syrup producer located 5 minutes from downtown Huntsville. In operation since 2004, the farm offers free tours and samples every day during the sugaring season. From their 3200 taps Maple Bluff creates syrup and a line of maple products and candy prepared on site.
For more than 40 years Mark’s Muskoka Maple has been producing syrup from their sugar bush in Huntsville. Throughout the harvest, visitors are welcome to visit the operation to witness the sap boiling process and sample some of their maple sugar, butter and maple seasonings.
Huntsville’s Deerhurst Resort produces maple syrup from their Sweet Muskoka sugar shack. The syrup is used at the resort and available for sale. Sweet Muskoka offers the opportunity to watch the process in person by visiting the sugar shack throughout the sugaring season.
Sweetwater Maple Syrup has a new facility where their syrup is produced in a traditional wood-fired evaporator. Located just a few minutes from Bracebridge, the family owned and operated sugar bush offers free tours and tastings.
After being immersed in the sap to syrup experience, it’s time to discover the wealth of culinary maple options available in Muskoka. Using the Muskoka Maple Trail as your guide you will discover a diverse selection of maple inspired delicacies and dining opportunities.
Local chef Jeff Suddaby and his culinary team will be serving a special maple menu at 3 Guys And A Stove in Huntsville. The restaurant is a favourite among locals, visitors and seasonal residents for its creative menu inspired by local ingredients. Don’t miss the famous weekend marché breakfast with a maple twist for the Trail, as well as dinner options such as Muskoka maple molasses BBQ sauce and muskoka maple pecan pie.
Huntsville’s gourmet market Farmer’s Daughter has also created a menu full of maple treats and flavours specifically for the Maple Trail. Try their maple french toast with maple pepper baked bacon, or pair a maple butter tart with special beverages such as a maple mint latte or the detox maple steamer. It is worth the trip just to pick up one of their unique maple hot sauces.
That’s not all…delicious maple recipes are featured at other stops along the trail including Patterson Kaye Resort in Bracebridge, Gravenhurst’s Old Mill Family Restaurant and The Oar and Paddle, Hook and Ladder Family Dining and Cottage Cravings Cafe & Gift Shop in Bala and Huntsville’s Deerhurst Resort and Seven Main Cafe.
The region’s breweries and winery are getting into the maple spirit as well. Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Sawdust City Brewing Company in Gravenhurst and Lake of Bays Brewing Company in Baysville have all collaborated on a signature maple beer that uses fresh Muskoka maple syrup. Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery in Bala has created a red maple dessert wine, a blend of cranberries and maple syrup, specifically for the Maple Trail.
With so many sights to see and tastes to experience, plan a full weekend and take advantage of one of the Overnight Maple Getaways. Along with their on-site sugar shack and maple inspired dining menus including a 3 course maple Table D’Hôte, Deerhurst Resort also offers special Maple Trail rates, Easter weekend maple madness and discounts on spa services. Hidden Valley Resort is offering a Maple bed and breakfast package, which includes overnight accommodation, dining room discount and a maple inspired breakfast for two. For additional Overnight Maple Getaways, visit the Muskoka Maple Festival website.
The Muskoka Maple Trail offers you the opportunity to create your own itinerary – visit a sugar bush, indulge in a maple inspired menu, or unwind with a specialty maple brew or cocktail. Take your time, stay for a few days…and be sure to mark Saturday April 29 on your calendar: The grand finale of the maple harvest is the Muskoka Maple Festival. Visit historic downtown Huntsville’s Main Street for a family-friendly event featuring an all day pancake breakfast, maple syrup producers, arts & crafts vendors, unique maple items and gifts, tasty treats, live music, a beer garden, street performers, interactive events and more!