Springtime and maple sugar fun in Mason
Tucked away near the New Hampshire – Massachusetts border, bucolic Mason comes alive during the early springtime as the days warm and the sap starts to flow once again in the region’s ancient trees.
Don’t know much about how sticky sap turns into silken syrup? Get your family’s sweet tooth ready! Maple sugaring time in Mason makes for an educational – and tasty – early spring outing.
The best place to stop first in Mason is also the reason why the tiny town is on the maple sugar map: Parker’s Maple Barn. A bustling restaurant specializing in hearty breakfast foods slathered liberally with maple syrup, Parker’s also offers visitors the chance to learn about the traditional art of maple syrup production.
Before your family sits down to eat, head first to the sugar house (just follow the smell of wood smoke). There, find out about tree tapping and sap collection, how Native Americans made zinsibukwud (maple sugar) by placing hot rocks into the sap and watch the roaring wood-fired evaporator produce Parker’s own syrup.
Need an early spring walk to burn off your maple-laden feast? Try Mason’s Russell-Abbott State Forest or dip below the Massachusetts line for a family hike at Townsend State Forest. If mud season makes a walk in the woods just too messy, head a few miles down the road to stroll around Fitchburg, Mass., (the Fitchburg State College campus is especially pedestrian-friendly).
And speaking of the woods, your family just might notice a cozy little cottage at the edge of the forest that looks strangely familiar. Pickety Place is now an upscale gourmet restaurant in Mason, but the 1786 cottage once inspired the illustrations for a famous edition of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Be sure to bring your camera if you stop by – Pickety Place houses a fun museum dedicated to the classic fairytale.
Maple sugaring season is a brief one in New Hampshire, so don’t miss out on a trip to Mason. The sap usually runs from early March through mid-April, weather permitting.
Places to check out:
Parker’s Maple Barn: Sugar house presentations are open to all on weekends through mid-April, but call ahead to schedule a weekday tour. Parker’s is also home to a fun-to-browse gift shop that features toys, T-shirts, candy and bottles of the sweet stuff in all shapes and sizes.
1316 Brookline Rd
Mason, NH 03048
Pickety Place: Located on picturesque Nutting Hill Road, the restaurant’s setting is so perfect it seems like Little Red Riding Hood could stop by at any moment for a visit. Check out the gift shop for a delicious selection of homemade jams, jellies and other gourmet goodies.
248 Nutting Hill Rd
Mason, NH 03048
Ben’s Sugar Shack: Hooked on maple syrup? Head over to Ben’s Sugar Shack in Temple for an instructional tour and free samples.
83 Webster Hwy
Temple, NH, 03084