A sure sign that spring is on the way is the annual tapping of sugar maple trees in February at the Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods, followed by the ever-popular Maple Syrup Hikes led by our naturalists the first three weekends in March.
This year's hikes are offered on Saturdays and Sundays, March 2 through 17, providing visitors with a tour, and taste, of the process. Participants will follow the process from sap to syrup and taste the final product.
The one-hour hikes run every half-hour from 12:30 to 2:30 pm, and are open to all ages. Registration is required. Hikes fill fast, so register soon. Cost is $6 per person. Children three and under are free. Special sessions designed especially for large parties or Scout groups are also available. Call 847-968-3321 to save your spot, or register online.
Ryerson Woods is one of the few places where climate conditions are right for maple syrup production and where the trees grow to a diameter and height that allows for tapping. For this maple syrup season, the naturalists at Ryerson will take a conservative approach to sugar maple tapping that occurs annually in February.
Traditionally, 30–35 sugar maple trees are tapped for syrup production. This year, based on recommendations from the University of Vermont's Proctor Maple Research Center, a more conservative number of trees, 10–15, will be tapped in an effort to curb the stress to our sugar maple trees caused by drought conditions in 2012. Although there will be a decrease in the quantity of trees tapped, it will in no way affect our popular Maple Syrup Hikes. To learn more about drought conditions in the area, visit the National Weather Service's drought report.
Ryerson Woods is located on Riverwoods Road south of Half Day Road and west of the I-94 Tollway in Riverwoods. For additional information on this or other programs, call 847-367-6640 and request a free subscription to our Horizons quarterly newsletter.