Maple Sugaring Days

infographic: A cartoon black bear stands in the forest holding a bucket with NPS logo.

First maple sugaring event coming in March 2023!

Saturday and Sunday, March 4-5, 2023

10 am-3 pm

Dechow and Olsen Farms in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Located on M-22 and Port Oneida Road.

Join us March 4-5, 2023, from 10 am-3 pm for Maple Sugaring Days, the first-ever maple sugaring event at the Lakeshore. Come experience the sugaring process through time. Learn the history of maple sugaring from the Anishinaabe, then travel to the present day at the Olsen Farm. End your adventure by sampling warm syrup or making maple taffy.

The event is free with a park pass.

The fun includes:

  • a guided hike,
  • a visit to a historic sugar shack,
  • sap boiling demonstrations,
  • kid's activities,
  • and maple syrup sampling.

On Saturday, March 4, there is also a community pancake breakfast.

Maple Sugaring Days is presented by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in partnership with Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear. This event is in collaboration with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians' Natural Resource Department.

Visit two sites for the Maple Sugaring Days event. If you want to follow the timeline, start your day at the Dechow Farm for a guided history hike to see tapped maple trees and sap boiling. End your visit at the Olsen Farm to experience first-hand how the sap is finished and try some warm maple syrup. There is nothing like it!

Plan on spending 2.5 hours at the event, visiting both locations. If you arrive after 2 pm, you will only have enough time to take-part in the activities at one site.

Parking is available at each farm site. Look for the parking signs with arrows off of M-22. The lot is in a snowplowed field near the farmhouses. You can either drive and park at each site or follow the groomed path to cross M-22. Port-o-johns are available at each location.

Dress for the weather. The path for the hike at the Dechow Farm can be icy, depending on the conditions. If there is snow or ice, attendees are encouraged to bring their own traction devices, trekking poles, or snowshoes for the event. Snowshoes will be available to borrow and loaned on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no advanced registration needed.

Dechow Farm

Start your experience by meeting park rangers at the entrance to the site. Just past the parking area, you will see the greeter table where you will get an event orientation and find information and meeting location for the hike.

Explore the Dechow Farm and discover the history of maple sugaring on a (just over) 1 hour, 1-mile guided hike to a historic sugar shack. This hike heads out from the large maple tree and up a hill to the upper field and location of the tapped trees and sugar shack. Hikes are every 15 minutes starting right at 10 am. The last hike begins at 2:15 pm.
No reservations required.

While you are there, visit with the Dechow family. Hear about their lives on the farm, including their sugaring experience.

Plan to spend 1.5 hours at the Dechow Farm.

Olsen Farm

Visit six stations at the Olsen Farm anytime from 10 am-3 pm. If you visit the Dechow Farm first, after your guided-hike head over to the Olsen Farmhouse. In the historic kitchen, see how the boiled down sap is finished into syrup, candy, or sugar. The other activities are inside and outside the barn. Be sure to stop at all six stations for the full experience.

Plan to spend at least an hour at the Olsen Farm.

Inside the Olsen House

  • Finishing the syrup
  • Making maple sugar and candy
  • Syrup grading scale
  • Sample warm maple syrup
  • Items for sale including fresh maple syrup, books and resources, and Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear items

Inside the Olsen Barn

  • Sugaring exhibit

Explore the history of sugaring and overview of the process. This is a must if you are unable to go on the guided-hike at Dechow.

  • Weather and climate activity

How does weather and climate play a role in the flow of sap? How are changes in northern Michigan changing the sap season?
Find out about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and discover science happening at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Outside stations

Sugaring activities

  • Test your skills to balance maple sugaring pails on a yoke
  • Anishinaabe method of warming syrup
  • Drilling practice using a traditional brace and bit

Syrup fun

  • Maple taffy activity
  • Make some maple snowcones

Childrens games

  • Jump rope and bean bags

Share your experience at this event on social media using #shareSLBE or #SleepingBearSugaring. Email any feedback or if you would like to be involved in the 2024 event: e-mail us.

Dechow Farm:
3991 W Harbor Hwy, Maple City, MI 49664

Olsen Farm:
3164 W Harbor Hwy, Maple City, MI 49664

Last updated: February 28, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


231 326-4700

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