Wisconsin Maple Syrup Events Let Visitors Tap Trees, Taste Syrup
When the snow begins to melt, the sap begins to flow, signaling the start of maple syrup season in Wisconsin.
If the season generally starts at the end of February, everything depends on the temperatures. The Goldilocks range for a good sap run is temperatures above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. Too cold and the sap stops flowing. Too hot and the trees begin to bud, making the sap bitter. The 2021 season started on February 20 (five days later than the 2020 season) and ended around March 31. according to USDA.
The tradition of tapping trees to make maple syrup in Wisconsin dates back centuries, with the state’s native tribes building special wigwams in sugar bushes (stands of trees that are tapped for sap to make maple syrup). maple syrup) to make sweets each spring. Europeans carried on the tradition, and today Wisconsin produces the fourth-largest maple syrup of any state in the country — 300,000 gallons in 2021 — with the sugar maple serving as the official state tree.
And this is only the official production. More syrup is produced in small batches by hobbyists in their backyards and at nature centers where visitors can learn how it’s made.
These events are a great opportunity to get outside in this shoulder season, when there isn’t enough snow for winter activities like skiing and the trails are too wet for some warm weather sports like cycling. Additionally, many events include the sweet perk of maple syrup tastings, sometimes in the form of a pancake breakfast.
Here’s a selection of those events around Wisconsin this syrup season.
March 11-12, Maple DaysFarm Wisconsin Discovery Center, Manitowoc: Tap a sugar maple log, learn about syrup making and the science of sap, make maple taffy, and taste maple syrup from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Saturdays, visit three local sugar bushes—Inthewoods Sugar Bush, Maple Sweet Dairy, and East Ridge Villa—from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All events are included with center admission which is $16 for adults, $12 for seniors (60 and over) and $8 for youth (free for 3 and under). (920) 726-6000, farmwisconsin.org.
12th of March, From maple to maple syrupSchlitz Audubon Nature Center, Milwaukee: Learn how to identify maple trees, how trees work, and how to get sap from a tree and turn it into maple syrup at this outdoor event from 1 to 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 for non-members and $20 for members. (414) 352-2880, schlitzaudubon.org.
The 17th of March, SPARK! maple sugar timeSchlitz Audubon Nature Center, Milwaukee: This free, accessible, and primarily indoor program for people experiencing cognitive changes and their caregivers will focus on maple syrup in March. Registration is requested. 10am-11:30am, (414) 352-2880, schlitzaudubon.org.
March 19, Shindig Maple SugarRiveredge Nature Center, Saukville: This event includes a treasure hunt, storytelling and tours of the maple grove and the sugar bush house to see how the sap is made. Advance tickets are $35 per family for non-members, $25 for pass members, and $10 for full-access members. 10 a.m.-11:45 a.m. or 12:15 p.m.-2 p.m. (262) 375-2715, riveredgenaturecenter.org.
March 19, maple sugar timeSchlitz Audubon Nature Center, Milwaukee: Visit different indoor and outdoor stations to learn about maple syrup and enjoy a sweet treat. Pre-registration is required: $15 for non-members, $10 for members (free for ages 2 and under). 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m. or 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. (414) 352-2880, schlitzaudubon.org.
March 19, maple sugarHawthorne Glen Outdoor Education Center, Milwaukee: Walk through Hawthorne Glen to find sugar maple trees and learn about the syrup making process. $5 for Milwaukee residents, $8 for non-residents. 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (414) 647-6050, milwaukeerecreation.net.
March 19-20, Maple Sugar DaysWehr Nature Center, Franklin: Walk to the maple grove to visit a sugar camp and enjoy hands-on demonstrations and pancakes. More maple treats, as well as DIY tapping supplies, will be on sale in the Friends of Wehr Nature Shop. Guided hikes depart every 15 minutes from noon to 4 p.m. $10 per person; children 2 and under are free. There is a parking fee of $4 per car for non-members. Pre-purchased tickets are mandatory. friendsofwehr.org/events.
March 19 and 26, Maple HikesPetrifying Springs County Park, Kenosha: Join the Pringle Nature Center for a hike at 10 or 11:30 a.m. to learn how syrup is made and sample some made by the nature center. $6 per person, $4.50 for Friends of Pringle members. Pre-registration required at pringlenc.org.
March 20th, maple festivalCovenant Harbour, Lake Geneva: Enjoy a pancake breakfast, outdoor market and other family activities. Breakfast is $10 for adults and $7 for children 4-12 (free for 3 and under). Breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (262) 248-3600, covenantharbor.org.
March 20 and 27, Sweet pancake breakfastRiver Bend Nature Center, Racine: Savor a pancake breakfast, then hike through the maple grove to learn about the syrup-making process. Advance purchase of tickets is required and costs $10 for adults and $7 for children ages 3-10 (children under 3 are free). 9am-1pm (262) 639-1515, riverbendracine.org.
March 26, family maple syrup dayRichfield Nature/Historic Park, Richfield: Watch the entire syrup-making process, from tapping trees to boiling from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and enjoy other hands-on activities and historical demonstrations. Maple syrup and maple syrup cotton candy will be available for purchase. New this year is a pancake breakfast of all-you-can-eat pancakes and real maple syrup, served with three sausages and a beverage from 9 to 11 a.m. for $6 per person. richfieldhistoricalsociety.org
April 2, Outdoor pancake breakfastRiveredge Nature Center, Saukville: Fill up on an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast in the middle of the maple grove. Seats are at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon. Advance tickets are recommended and cost $15 for non-member adults and $13 for children 12 and under, and $12 for member adults and $9 for children (all children 3 and under). fewer are free). Mimosas and beer will be available for cash purchase. (262) 375-2715, riveredgenaturecenter.org.
12th of March, Bubolz Family Explorers: Maple SyrupGordon Bubolz Nature Reserve, Appleton: Join a hike to see the syrup-making process, then taste the final product over ice cream. 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., $20 per family for non-members, $15 for members. (920) 731-6041, bubolzpreserve.org.
March 19, maple syrup campBrillion Nature Centre, Brillion: Learn about each step of the syrup making process and taste syrup on ice cream. Free; donations appreciated. 10am-2pm (920) 756-3591, brillionnaturecenter.net.
March 19, Maple Syrup Saturday – Adopt a Bucket, Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve, Appleton: Families can “adopt a bucket” for the season, tap a maple tree in the storage and hang the bucket to collect the sap, then return throughout the season to view their bucket. There will also be ice cream topped with maple syrup. The experience costs $45 per family. (920) 731-6041, bubolzpreserve.org.
March 19, Sap Run ScrambleB&E Farm, Cashton: Prepare to be muddy during this run through the maple grove, following the sap of a tree to the maple grove. There will also be tables in the woods to sample local food and drink. The event starts at noon, with a suggested donation of $20; proceeds will be donated to Community Hunger Solutions of Viroqua and the local Outdoor Afro chapter. Register on boardmaple.com.
March 20th, maple syrup sundayLedge View Nature Centre, Chilton: Visit the maple grove and attend a tapping demonstration, then enjoy a pancake breakfast from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. $9 for ages 12 and up, $5 for children under 12. (920) 849-7094, ledgeviewnaturecenter.org.
March 26, Public Maple Syrup DayBarkhausen Waterfowl Reserve, Suamico: Join a 0.75 mile guided hike to see how syrup is made and end with a delicious treat from 9am-2pm. Pre-registration is required and costs $5 per person (ages 2 and under are free). Register on browncountywi.gov.
March 26, Sugarbush DayHistoric Low Point, Nekoosa: Help collect the sap, then watch it boil in a log, like Native Americans made syrup. End your visit with a crepe in syrup. Donations are welcome. 10am-4pm (715) 459-1722, pointbassehistoire.com.
April 2, maple festivalPlymouth City Park, Plymouth: Discover how syrup is made, visit local producers, enjoy a pancake breakfast and buy maple products. Donations accepted for breakfast. 10am-3pm drawryfarmsmaple.com.
April 2, maple syrup party, MacKenzie Education Centre, Poynette: Enjoy a variety of activities at this free event, including live music, horse-drawn wagon rides, interpretive exhibits, a scavenger hunt, and food available for purchase . 8am-2pm (608) 635-8105, mackenziefriends.org.
March 19, First shaft tappingLeafy Grove Maple, N602 Leafy Grove Road, Merrill: State dignitaries will be on hand to officially kick off the season with the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association beginning at 10 a.m. There will also be tours of the maple grove, snacks and refreshments. www.wismaple.org
April 2, maple syrup partyPhelps School, Phelps: Watch tree-tapping demonstrations, visit local sugar bushes, browse arts and crafts, and sample maple treats at this free festival from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. phelpswi.us