“Sap is running right now. If it’s running this weekend we could be boiling this weekend,” Matthew Harrison, past president of the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia and 2016 Woodlot Owner of the Year, said Feb. 22.
With drill in hand, Harrison added another tap to the network of lines running into the Hidden Mountain Maple Farms family business. As temperatures reached plus-six in the afternoon sun, Harrison and a handful of employees worked from maple tree to maple tree using snowshoes to keep them above the heavy snow that fell just a week ago.
From the Lynn Mountain Road and Cumberland-Colchester border, around Rodney and to the foothill of Fenwick and surrounding areas, Northern Nova Scotia comes alive with maple production this time of year. Once a tough slog through the woods to get to makeshift maple camps, today’s maple operations are increasingly family friendly outings and there is a sugar camp for just about every activity level out there. Harrison’s own operation can be driven right up to, but recognizing many like to enjoy the outdoors Harrison says they are opening pet-friendly snowshoe and cross-country ski trails this season.
“There’s pretty good trails here. Help yourself. They can loop around the whole sugar woods.”
Another popular destination when the sap starts running is Highway 2 in Fenwick, where the Donkin, Thompson and Ripley sugar camps share a common road. With trails throughout the sugar woods and the main road itself, family and friends can enjoy walking a short walk from the road to enjoy the natural sweet treat or go the extra distance to experience an off-grid operation complete with a hydroelectric dam. The ‘big three’ have drawn visitors from all over the world to experience one of Canada’s most recognizable exports.
Anyone looking to enjoy the other Canadian tradition of snowshoeing have more opportunities than ever before to experience the sport without the cost. Hike Nova Scotia reports the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill and Parrsboro Recreation Department both lend out snowshoes to residing constituents. For more information contact Active Living Coordinator Rachael Little at 902-763-3025, or Sarah MacNeil at 902-254-2036.
Four sweet facts about maple syrup
• The first written account of maple syrup dates back to 1606
• It takes 40 litres of sap to make 1 litre of syrup
• Of the 13 species of maple found in Canada, only three can be used for syrup
• Canada produces 80% of the world’s maple syrup