As snow melts, the season’s sweetest treat begins to flow from the surrounding maple trees uniquely thriving in the Northeastern part of the U.S. In fact, the Sugar Maple is New York State’s official tree. You may have even noticed webs of piping running through wooded areas during your travels. These are sure signs the Adirondack Coast’s maple season is in full swing!
In order for the sticky sap to flow, daytime and nighttime temperatures need to strike a sweet spot (pun intended): slightly above freezing during the day and just below freezing at night. This means the Adirondack Coast’s maple production reaches its height around the end of March each year. Visitors head to our shores from far and wide around this time for Maple Weekends, a statewide celebration of this "liquid gold" and all of its goodness. This year, Maple Weekends falls on March 23-24 & 30-31 and maple farms across New York State invite visitors to their sugar houses to experience firsthand how pure, mouth-watering maple syrup and other related products are made. Visitors also have the opportunity to enjoy fun, family-friendly activities, taste New York’s freshest syrup and purchase maple products.
If it’s the purest of syrups you’re after, the area’s memorable maple farms and sugar houses won’t disappoint, offering up the standard “Fancy”, “Medium Amber”, “Dark Amber” and “B” grades travelers to Northern New York have come to know and crave. As natural sweeteners with nutritional value, these syrups present endless possibilities for adventures both inside and outside the kitchen. Bring some home to drizzle on your pancakes or waffles, in your coffee, or over your oatmeal, but not before exploring what other delicious confections the following Adirondack Coast sweet stops have in store.
Parker’s Family Maple Farm | 1043 Slosson Rd, West Chazy, NY
Parker family generations have been tapping trees for sap in West Chazy since the 1800’s. Today, theirs is one of the largest operations in the U.S. with a 1,000-acre maple farm producing 40,000 gallons per year. That’ll cover a lot of pancakes (and don’t worry, they’ve got those too). Fun fact: you need about 40 to 50 gallons of sap to produce just one gallon of “pure” maple syrup!
Want to learn more about production processes and how it all works? Meet the Parker family during your visit to the farm, which also includes a gift shop, restaurant, and equipment dealership. You’ll quickly learn the maple sugaring tradition is about more than just syrup and pancakes (although, we can all agree those are amazing!). This is a celebrated lifestyle and an agricultural art here on the Adirondack Coast, often carried on throughout generations, with historic roots in Native American tradition.
Whatever your maple desires might include—an agricultural history lesson, equipment to start your own operation, or maybe just a really, really great snack (the maple ice cream is highly recommended!)—visitors of all ages and interests will savor something sweet here.
Bechard's Sugar HouseI 61 Sanger Lane, West Chazy, NY
Today, Bechard’s Maple honors the legacy of father and son team Maurice and Marvin, who opened the farm as a hobby in 1998. After his father’s passing, Marvin continued the tradition with his wife, Tammy, and together they’ve grown from the original 300 taps to today’s 9,000 (and counting!).
With a background in contracting, Marvin designed and built the farm’s pancake house himself. Visitors can stop by for full pancake breakfasts complete with eggs, sausage, and bacon starting the first week of March (follow them on Facebook for the latest event updates!).
While you’re there, be sure to tour the original sugar house, where visitors will find uniquely shaped glass containers artfully filled with varying shades of shimmering amber liquid, among other treats: maple candies made in house, pancake mixes, sugars, recipes, cotton candy, doughnuts, sauces, and more! Whatever your sweet tooth is after, you’re sure to find it here.
Sacred Roots Maple | 161 Atwood Rd, West Chazy, NY
Sacred Roots is the artisanally curated maple haven you’ve been looking for, run by the young and friendly husband and wife duo, Ben and Ashley. The couple celebrates a deeply rooted and spiritual appreciation for their surrounding land and its 100-year history in the maple industry (hence, the farm’s name).
Bring the whole family along while the air is still a crisp and enjoy sleigh rides! Any other time, treat yourself to tasty samples and demonstrations. Learn how the couple proudly combines past traditions with modern technology by using a wood-fired evaporator to boil their sap. Fun Fact: the sap that comes from Sugar Maple trees is a translucent liquid with only 2% sugar content - because of this, it must boil, evaporate, and caramelize to transform into the sticky syrup we all recognize! With 66 acres of maple trees in their “sugarbush”, as the farms are often called, the pair takes great joy in creating an exceptional experience for their visitors.
Brandybrook Maple Farm & Olde Tyme Wine | 439 Brandy Brook Road, Ellenburg Center, NY
Escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and retreat to family-owned Brandybrook Maple Farm & Olde Tyme Winery in Ellenburg Center, a hamlet known for its quiet roads, scenic drives, and magnificent white wind turbines. Harvesting sap from 5 sugar bushes throughout the Adirondack Coast, this small farm operation continues to produce a variety of tasty creations since first opening its doors in 2007.
Here you’ll find the favorite maple standards—syrups, sugars, creams, and cotton candy—but you’ll also find an expanding list of more than 12 reds, whites, and fruit wines enhanced by (you guessed it!) their very own pure maple syrup. Book an appointment in advance and tour the winery and sugar house, sampling some the Adirondack Coast’s sweetest libations—all made using a combination of estate and local grapes, as well as other fruits. The first of its kind in Ellenburg Center, this stop is ideal for anyone looking to unwind with more than a shot or two of maple syrup!
There’s so much to tap into during the Adirondack Coast’s springtime maple madness! Planning to stick around for a bit after satisfying your craving for our “liquid gold”? Check out these other nearby attractions.
Other stops near West Chazy, NY:
Other stops near Ellenburg Center, NY:
Put on your favorite fuzzy hat and gloves, because I’m going to take you on a tour of a beautiful winter wonderland that I got the chance to explore recently. Ausable Chasm allowed me to experience a snowy two hour trek that has never been more fun, or breathtaking.
The Chasm offers many summer activities such as white-water rafting, trail-hiking and their super-cool Adventure Trail (see it here), but did you know they also offer guided and unguided tours of "the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks" in the winter too? If you haven’t seen the roaring river on a perfect, glimmering wintry day, then you are missing out!
My mom tagged along with me on this adventure and on a 32 degree day in Upstate New York we were worried about staying warm, but after 30 minutes of walking we found that the light layers we were wearing were perfect for this active winter trek.
Winter tours can be either one hour or two, unguided or guided at 10AM or 2PM. Tours must be booked ahead of time by either calling or booking online and start at $25 per person (ages 8+). Going unguided is completely fine, but being our first time, we decided to opt for the guided tour and we highly recommend it! Our tour guide, Caleb, was amazing and gave us a different perspective on the Chasm then we would have gotten by just wandering on our own. The guided tour also allows access to the Inner Sanctum trail, which takes further into the Chasm - definitely worth it!
Ice cleats are also a must on these tours and are available for rent at the Chasm ($5 a pair). They made a world of difference when crunching around the fresh-fallen powder.
And with the proper footwear, we were off!
The first stop was a large mounted rock with bilingual signage standing next to it for all of those unguided tours. Caleb explained that this ancient sandstone slab and all of its ripples indicated a time when our area was covered by the Cambrian Sea well over 1,500 years ago!
The next stop was a similar sandstone rock with a bit of a mysterious background. Caleb explained the story of how these marks were made thousands of years ago by an animal with little claws and a narrow tail that dragged behind it. No fossil matching this description has been found in our area.
After a few more minutes of beautiful scenery, we reached the famous Elephant's Head rock. We stood on a wooden deck hovering above the chasm, and looked to the other side where two major fault zones created this amazing rock formation that just so happens to look like an elephant's head.
My favorite part of our exploration was a tall cliff etched from calcium-filled sandstone rock, dubbed the “Post Office”.
If you're scratching your head as to why there would be a "post office" here, you're doing the exact same thing we did, but the Caleb told us the reason for the name and its pretty cool. The calcium in the rock makes the sandstone soft and easy to inscribe on, which resulted in people leaving letters and notes stuck to the wall by pushing in pins and tacks. There were times when the entire cliff was covered in little weather sheets of paper, hence making it look like a very disorganized Post Office. Now, people have just resorted the etching words and names into the rock, so next time your are visiting, be sure to leave your mark at the Chasm's Post Office.
As you can see in this picture, the side of the cliff has been weathered away,leaving hundreds of nooks and shelves as a testament to its easily worn nature.
Jacob’s Well is just a few staircases away was another mind-blowing example of nature in its most creative forms. This literal hole in the solid rock of the cliff was weathered away from hundreds of years of sand and water swirling in a little eddy in the rock. Eventually, it was ground down to the size it is today: over two feet wide in places, and a good 8 feet down.
For those of you who have been white water rafting at the Chasm during the summer, you'll know that the rafts used are a tough, neon orange rubber. Did you know that only a short time ago the rafts were made of wood? Thankfully, those boats were retired in favor of the safer ones used today. This part of the river is where the rafts are easily lowered down the side of the chasm using a conveyor belt and pulley system. In the past, the boats had to be manually carried up the side of the cliff at the ending point and then driven on a truck back to the starting point. Can you imagine!? .
After this point, it was a light walk back around to the beginning, pinching off the loop by crossing another white-frosted bridge.
This was the last leg of the journey, and I can wholeheartedly tell you that this adventure was a great one! Definitely one of the most beautiful memories I have of winter on the Adirondack Coast. The crisp smell of the air, the vibrancy of the snow against the rock, sounds of crashing water from below...all things that are even more amazing in person.
Ausable Chasm has been operating since 1870, making it the longest operating natural attraction in the United States and whether its during the Winter, Summer or Fall, it is definitely worth the visit!
Hidden high in the corner of New York State lies, or floats, a jewel of the past that makes history come alive just by stepping on its shores. Valcour Island claims 968 acres of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, and lies a mere mile from the Town of Peru Boat Launch—a short 2-3 minute cruise across the bay. Stuck in an archipelago of the Northern Region of Lake Champlain, Valcour Island features historic sites and recreational facilities like no other island. On the north side facing the mainland sits the Bluff Point Lighthouse, which offers tours every Sunday from July to August. Learn more at the official Lighthouse website.
Lurking high on a cliff set deep in crepuscular forests is the Seton House—an 88-year-old solid-stone manor reminiscing in fabled folklore of the family’s ghosts who supposedly wander the grounds at night. It’s even complete with the boarded up windows, and a dilapidated NO TRESPASSING sign harshly bolted to the 10-foot-tall, thick wooden door. Brave enough to venture near it?
If the haunted mansion wasn’t enough, there’s more in store for the history buffs and thrill seekers. The word itself, Valcour, means “value of the heart”, and multiple theories have surfaced about it being named after a deep betrayal—perhaps an explanation of the lone, enigmatical grave residing under a carved rock headstone. It’s set deep in Smuggler’s Harbor, the locally famous bay coined for hiding Benedict Arnold from the British Navy during the Battle of Valcour.
The Western Cliffs call to those looking for a dip in the cool water on a late evening, when the humidity settles in thick. Hanging out over the water, the jagged rocks form a perfect place to CAREFULLY jump in.
Valcour Island provides a perfect place for adventures, campers, and history buffs alike. Belonging to the small town of Peru, it is a renowned part of the Adirondack Park Preserve and has become a major part of life for those who are interested in Lake Champlain, the history of it, and the many opportunities it provides on the Adirondack Coast.