Are you ready to experience something sweet?
The Virginia Maple Syrup Trail highlights pure maple syrup in the central Appalachia area where the delicacy can be consistently made. Maple syrup starts by collecting sugar water, or “sap”, from maple trees in late winter and early spring during the freezing and thawing cycle. That sugar water is then boiled down to make a delicious syrup. The syrup producers’ sugar camps remain up year-round even outside of their busy processing season, and you can hear their stories, view their equipment, and enjoy their tasty syrup.
Your passport begins in Highland County, home to the official maple festival of Virginia. You’re invited to visit seven sugar camps in Highland County throughout the year, excluding the busy Maple Festival weeks and weekends in March, to learn the techniques of how maple syrup is uniquely produced at each one. Call ahead to the sugar camps, schedule a visit for a tour, taste their syrup and get a stamp on your physical passport. Passports are available at the sugar camps themselves upon arrival, at local businesses or at select Virginia Welcome Centers. After all seven camps are visited, there will be a prize, but the real incentive is to have more one-on-one interaction with the farmers who run the camps. Discover all that happens even beyond maple syrup on these these farms and in the scenic, unspoiled mountains of Highland County. If you want to know where your food comes from, this a great family agritourism opportunity!
*** Please note that due to potential high volumes of people and the busy time to produce syrup, passports will be unable to be stamped from March 7 – 20, 2022. ***
Virginia Tech is trying to locate all producers of maple and other tree syrups, no matter the size or scale of their production (from hobbyists to full-scale commercial producers) in the region. One goal of this project supported by VDACS is to start a syrup producers association to help those interested in maple and other syrups like yourself find assistance, equipment, and markets for your syrup. If you want to learn more about producing syrups from maple and other tree species and the new association, please contact Guinevere Unterbrink at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Puffenbarger’s Sugar Orchard
In the heart of the Blue Grass Valley, the Puffenbarger’s Sugar Orchard is a multigenerational family owned business that produces “sugar water” in to sweet maple syrup! –Read More–
Laurel Fork Sapsuckers
Laurel Fork Sapsuckers is a family-run sugar camp that you can join for high elevation views of western Highland County and a tour of the maple syrup making process. They have used materials from their farm, as well as equipment from the county that folks used over 100 years ago. –Read More–
Mill Gap Farms
Mill Gap Farms is the only producer in Virginia who is certified Organic by the USDA. They utilize the latest technology from Vermont and Quebec to produce their maple syrup. –Read More–
Back Creek Farms
The Lowry family has been making maple syrup since before the Civil War, and they still use the open pan passed down from Pat Lowry’s great-grandmother. –Read More–
Sugar Tree Country Store & Sugar House
They utilize reverse osmosis techniques for making syrup but value the importance of old-fashioned family time to bring you a full range of maple products. –Read More–
Bruce’s Syrup and Candies
Advancing beyond just old-fashioned buckets and kettles in the early days, they now utilize a vacuum system, reverse osmosis, state-of-the-art evaporator, filtration and bottling equipment. –Read More–
Held annually during the second and third weekends in March. For over 60 years, visitors have been drawn to Highland County to tour real maple sugar camps for a cultural and culinary adventure! In 1999, The Library of Congress designated The Highland County Maple Festival a “Local Legacy.” In 2014, the Governor of Virginia signed a bill into law designating the festival as the “official maple festival of Virginia.” Each year, tens of thousands of visitors are drawn to this unspoiled, rural region of Virginia to celebrate the “opening” of the trees and observe the process of maple syrup-making. Sugar camp tours provide a unique and educational experience that portrays a rapidly vanishing way of American life. *** Please note that due to potential high volumes of people and the busy time to produce syrup, passports will be unable to be stamped from March 7 – 20, 2022. *** (Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation)
Please click here for further details about the Maple Festival.
Several sugar camps that are part of the Virginia Maple Syrup Trail are open during the annual Hands & Harvest Festival and Wintertide in the fall and winter of the year. Feel free to stop in to have your passport stamped without a need to schedule an appointment! You can stir apple butter, press cider, shop local for holiday gifts, and enjoy so much more during these special events. Learn more about each one by clicking on the respective links below.