Nature programs explore the sweet tastes of spring

  • This month, naturalists are demonstrating how to tap for maple syrup with in-person and online programs across the suburbs.

      This month, naturalists are demonstrating how to tap for maple syrup with in-person and online programs across the suburbs. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Posted3/4/2021 3:03 PM

The warmer, sunny days and cool nights of March encourage maple trees to produce their sweetest sap. Learn more about the process of making maple syrup at events around the suburbs this month.

Cook County


The Forest Preserves of Cook County is offering "Sap's Rising" at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through March 21, at the River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Ave. in Northbrook. Walk in the sugar maple forest to learn about the sweet process of maple syrup making. All participants are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing. Registration is required for this free event by calling River Trail at (847) 824-8360.

Trees offer an abundance of resources such as the sap used to make maple syrup. Each week during the sap run, staff from the nature center are talking about this liquid gold and show you a new or interesting way to eat maple syrup. Facebook message your weird and crazy suggestions and see if the staff picks yours to try! The "Sampling Syrups" Facebook Live events are at 2 p.m. Thursdays, starting Feb. 25 to March 11.


DuPage County

This month, the DuPage Forest Preserve District is offering "Maple Sugaring" at Kline Creek Farm or "DIY Maple Sugaring: The Basics" at Fullersburg Woods. Register online at or by calling (630) 876-5900. Group size is limited to 10 in each session and will follow current health guidelines regarding COVID-19. Participants must wear masks that cover the nose and mouth and practice social distancing.

In "Maple Sugaring," find out how sap becomes syrup as you examine a maple tree, check the collection buckets, see a tapping demonstration, and observe sap thickening over a fire. These 20-minute tours are a great way to spend time with your family in nature on Saturdays and Sundays, March 6-28, at Kline Creek Farm, 1N600 County Farm Road in West Chicago. The tours begin at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3 and 3:30 p.m. You must wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Cost for this all-ages program is $5 per person.

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In "DIY Maple Sugaring: The Basics," learn how to tap maple trees at home and make your own syrup with just a little know-how and a few tools. You must wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. This program for ages 18 or older costs $10 per person. The program will be on Saturday, March 13, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Fullersburg Woods, 3609 Spring Road in Oak Brook.

Kane County

• Celebrate the coming of spring with a deep dive into the process of maple sugaring with Naturalist Josh, during this episode of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County's "Out & About" podcast. The Feb. 25 podcast is available at

The Forest Preserve District of Kane County also is offering the video "Maple Sugaring In The Digital Age" on Facebook. Learn the history and process of maple tree tapping and syrup production but can't join one of our maple sugaring events in person? Jump into this virtual tour to explore the fascinating world of maple syrup.


• The Fox Valley Park District's annual Maple Fest tours on Saturday and Sunday, March 20 and 21, are already full.


Lake County

Lake County Forest Preserves is hosting "Ask an Educator Live" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, on Zoom and Facebook. Bring your questions about backyard syruping.

They will show participants how to tap your maple tree. Throughout March, teachers and scout leaders can reserve a "Virtual Maple Syrup Field Trip" where naturalists will use the maple syruping process to meet science learning standards and enhance classroom curriculum.

Though there will be no in-person programming this spring, families can go on self-guided Maple Syrup Hikes through Ryerson Woods. With informational signs along the designated trail, you'll learn the science behind how trees make sap and how to turn that sap into real maple syrup.

Browse all virtual education offerings and register online at

McHenry County

Reserve your tour for the annual Festival of the Sugar Maples!

The flowing of the maple sap is a sure sign that spring is just around the corner! Celebrate the change of seasons and McHenry County Conservation District's 50th anniversary with this annual favorite.

The Festival of the Sugar Maples will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays to Mondays, March 6-8 and March 13-15, at Coral Woods Conservation Area, 7400 Somerset Drive in Marengo!

New this year: Mondays have been added to space out visitors and accommodate your family to enjoy this annual outdoor experience!

Reservations are required at Sign up for a free time slot Saturday, Sunday or Monday. Tours leave every 15 minutes.

Take this opportunity to learn the fascinating history of maple sugaring and the evolution of the sap collection process. Tours last approximately one hour and involve a half-mile hike through a snowy woodland trail. Dress for the weather, and face coverings are required. No pets please.

Stop by the sales tent and pick up some pure maple syrup (from Wisconsin and Vermont), maple flavored candies, maple syrup straws, and fresh maple cookies from Kay and Jo's Bakery in Marengo will be available for purchase. Looking to try to tap your own maple tree? Pick up a spile with instructions on how to make your own syrup.

Since 1979, the McHenry County Conservation District has educated thousands of visitors about the process of turning the sap from maple trees into delicious maple syrup.

This year's event is made possible in part by a generous donation from AmeriGas sponsorship of the Evaporator House!

The McHenry County Conservation District also is hosting "Webby Wednesday: Night of Nature Knowledge" from 7 to 8 p.m. each week. On March 10, the topic will be "Sap Science." Join them on Wednesday nights for an adult learning opportunity. These virtual programs will cover a range of subjects. It is free for McHenry County residents or $5 for nonresidents. The program content is for ages 14 or older. Participants must register for each program to receive the web meeting link. Register at

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