Maple sugaring

MDC is presenting a series of free educational Maple Sugaring programs in January and February, the peak season for maple sugaring in Missouri.

What makes winter so special for maple lovers? For about six weeks, from mid-January to the end of February, nature cooks up its own sweet delights within sugar maple trees as the sap begins to flow, ready to be tapped for making sugar and syrup. Anyone can learn skills to collect, boil down and, create their own maple syrup or sugar from trees they may have in their own backyards.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is presenting a series of free educational Maple Sugaring programs in January and February, the peak season for maple sugaring in Missouri. The programs are free, open to all ages, and will be held at Rockwoods Reservation in Wildwood. Some of the programs will be tailored to families, and others to homeschoolers.

Participants will learn the fascinating history of maple sugaring, visit the sugar bush to see where sap is collected, and learn how to turn the sap into syrup. The entire program is outdoors, so participants should dress for the weather and wear appropriate footwear for a short hike. A portion of the trail is not stroller/wheelchair accessible.

Participants will be broken into three small groups, each led by MDC staff, to better maintain social distancing.

In Missouri, this time of year is prime maple sugaring season because it produces the right weather conditions. It has the perfect combination of below freezing temperatures at night and above freezing temperatures during the day that causes the sap to ‘flow’." The greater the night-to-day temperature difference, the more the sap flows. But come March, leaves and seeds open on the trees and the sap changes, calling an end the sugar production season. Sap from the sugar maple tree has the highest sugar content – about 3-percent – and produces the most sugar per gallon of sap collected.

As these are in-person programs, for the safety of participants and our staff, MDC encourages all guests to observe social distancing guidelines. Participants will be asked to maintain at least six feet from others and follow St. Louis County mask mandates.

The ample sugaring programs are free but advanced online registration is required. The programs scheduled for January are:

Conservation Families: Maple Sugaring, Saturday, Jan. 23:

9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. class, register at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZER

12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m., register at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZED

Homeschool: Maple Sugaring, Thursday, Jan. 28:

9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. class, register at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZEz

12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m., register at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZEK

Participants should sign up only for their preferred timeslot. There will be 15 maple sugaring programs scheduled in February, including 10 homeschool and five for families, which will be posted soon. Those wishing to participate in those can find them on MDC’s St. Louis events page at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZP6 as soon as they go live.

Rockwoods Reservation is located at 2751 Glencoe Road, off Highway 109 between I-44 and Highway 100.