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sampling maple syrup

Quintessential Vermont's Sweet Surprise

Superb skiing, robust autumn foliage and rich cheese provide a taste of Vermont, but the real sweetness comes in its maple syrup.

Vermont has the largest density of maple trees in the U.S., which is partially responsible for the vibrant colors that wash across the landscapes every autumn. Vermont also produces a staggering 40 percent of the nation’s maple syrup.

If you happen to travel to Vermont in the spring, you will find all things maple at every turn. It’s a wonderful time to visit, and there are many fun activities available for all family members.

Visit a sugarhouse

There are more than 1,500 sugarhouses operating in Vermont, and you can smell the steaming maple syrup in the streets almost wherever you go. Many sugarhouses offer tours that show you how maple sap is turned into the rich, amber-colored sweet syrup we love on pancakes and waffles. All of Vermont’s sugarhouses sell maple products from maple sugar to maple candy and syrup. Here are a few you may want to visit:

Bragg Farm Sugarhouse & Gift Shop is in beautiful East Montpelier and is open year-round. For eight generations, the Bragg family has used traditional means (buckets and a wood-fired evaporator) to produce maple syrup. Take a tour of the facilities and head out on a walking trail through the maple woods. Families with young children might want to visit with the farm’s ponies, goats and rabbits. Don’t leave without trying a popular “maple creemee,” a local soft-serve ice cream specialty.

At nearby Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in Montpelier, your family can tour the property, walk a nature trail, watch a multimedia presentation in a woodshed theater and even go cross country skiing. Look for the whimsical carved characters that owner Burr Morse sculpted with a chainsaw; they are scattered throughout the property. Burr has been seen on major news networks as the spokesperson or barometer of how the maple season is going. The Morse family has been maple producers for 200 years. Check the website for their “Flapjack Fundraisers,” which give you the chance to enjoy pancakes, syrup and maple-cured bacon while supporting a needy cause.

Cabot Creamery Co-op dairy farm member Richardson Farm in Woodstock also produces maple syrup using traditional methods to produce their fine products. The Kosher-certified farm has 8,000 maple taps and produces 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of syrup a year in its wood-fired evaporator. Shop its store for an array of maple and farm-fresh dairy products.

If you’re looking for a sugarhouse and a unique place to spend the night, consider Moose Meadow Lodge & Tree House. Tucked amid 86 secluded acres with hiking trails and stunning views in Waterbury’s Green Mountains, the LGBT-friendly luxury log cabin lodge offers uniquely appointed rooms with outdoor-themed décor. Owners Greg Trulson and Willie Docto have a sugaring operation on the property and feature their maple products on their breakfast menu.