Summertime Splendor of the Maple Forest

Welcome to Niagara!

If you’re visiting the Niagara Region for the first time this summer, I can probably guess a few things that are on your list to see:

✅ The epic Niagara waterfalls
✅ The picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake
✅ Ships squeezing through the locks of the Welland Canal

If I had visitors coming here, these are the must-see attractions that I would absolutely recommend!  

What you may not know is that you can find pure maple syrup and learn all about where it comes from right in the heart of Niagara — all summer long. If you’re looking for an adventure that’s off the beaten path – add the Discover Maple Tour at White Meadows Farms to your must-see list

Re-Discovering the Sugar Bush

Aren’t Sugar Bush tours a spring thing? It’s true, most maple festivities happen in March and April during the sap collection season. However there is so much more to know about the forest that creates our precious sap that isn’t visible in the springtime. Those who are not from Canada (or any other country where the possibility of icicles forming on your nose is just a normal winter day) you may not be visiting us during the peak of the maple syrup harvest. So if you’re reading this and know even a smidge about making maple syrup you might be thinking:

What could I possibly show people in the middle of July that has anything to do with maple syrup making?

Over the years, international visitors were stopping by our farm through the summer months and asking the age-old question: Where does maple syrup come from? The more that people were asking, the more it got me thinking — perhaps I can show you…

By the end of Summer 2013, I had a few ideas swirling in my mind. I decided to start out by taking some photos of the sugar bush, after all a picture is worth a thousand words. I hadn’t really spent much time in the forest during the “green” months before – what a sight it is! Every season has a unique beauty and summer is no exception. The first thing I noticed was how the air cooled as I stepped into the forest, escaping the summer heat. The shade of the trees gave a brilliant glow to the forest floor. I’d spent my childhood on this property and even the trails looked different to me now. With the plant life and trees flourishing, I couldn’t even see around the bend in the path like I could during the winter months. This sparked a realization and a newfound passion: I can’t just show this to you in pictures, I need to SHARE this with you.

I couldn’t wait to tell my family and the rest of the team about my ideas to bring the summertime sugar bush to our guests. We decided to take a walk down the trails and make note of all of the things we noticed that are different about the trees, the sap lines and even the sounds and smells of the forest. One of them said it was like re-discovering the sugar bush all over again, and at that moment the Discover Maple Sugar Bush Tour was created!

What to Expect on the Tour

So we know maple syrup is harvested in the early Spring season but technically it’s “made” the summer before. Summer forest maintenance is just as important as any other time of year. Learning about how maple syrup is harvested while fully immersed in the growing maple forest is one of the things that makes the tour so unique. The Discover Maple Tour is a 90 minute journey from our Sugar Shack to the heart of our working Sugar Bush with an expert guide leading every step of the way.

Sugar Shack

Before a wagon ride to the forest, the tour starts out in our Sugar Shack– nicknamed “the hub” of the farm for good reason. During the harvest season this is the room where all of the magic happens✨. It’s a little quieter this time of year but no less impactful. Seeing the equipment quietly waiting for the next round of harvest gives the same sense of the anticipation felt all winter long as we anxiously await the emergence of spring. Here you’ll learn all about the sap to syrup ratio, the syrup finishing process, the different colours of maple syrup and more! Once your interest is piqued – it’s off to the sugar bush…

Wagon Ride

While riding on the tractor-pulled wagon, take in the sights of the rolling fields surrounding the forest. Use this opportunity to take a selfie in the warm breeze and get to know the other tour guests.

Walking The Trails

As the wagon enters the Sugar Bush there is a noticeable difference in the air, both in the temperature and “freshness”. When the tractor’s engine stops in the heart of the forest, a calm silence is felt as everyone disembarks. Follow your guide down the winding forest trails and learn all about tree tapping, sap collection and managing the forest’s health throughout the year. After the 1-hour walk you’ll be ready for what comes next…

Taffy on Snow

No visit to the Sugar Bush is complete without Taffy on Snow. That’s right, SNOW even in the summer, that’s Canada eh? 🇨🇦😉 The final stop in the Sugar Bush is a visit to our Taffy Shack where pure maple syrup cooks over an open fire into a delicious candy treat. As the warmed syrup is poured over the snow it hardens as it’s rolled onto a sticky lolly. 

Maple Syrup Tasting

After tasting the Maple Taffy and the wagon journey back to the farm the four colours of maple syrup await.  Golden, Amber, Dark, Very Dark — all are pure maple syrup, each with a distinct maple flavour. 

See you in the Sugar Bush!

Whether learning about the production of maple syrup interests you or just being immersed in nature is your thing, The Discover Maple Tour is probably right up your alley (or trail 😂).  After all a visit to Canada is incomplete without a taste of pure maple syrup. We hope to see you soon, as sweet adventures await!