Midwest Living Review
A gift from Mother Nature, maple syrup is produced in limited regions -- Canada, New England and a few Great Lakes states -- where sugar maples thrive and an early spring climate of cold nights and warm days encourages the sap to flow. One of those favored places is Geauga County, Ohio's maple syrup capital. Abounding with sugarhouses, it's an ideal setting for the March Maple Madness Tour, a self-guided weekend driving adventure organized by the Ohio Maple Producers Association. Your first stop should be the Burton Log Cabin, a Maple Madness hub where you can pick up a tour map and directions. Because the log cabin is a working sugarhouse, it's easy to find; just look for the cloud of steam rising out of the evaporator where sap is being boiled down into golden syrup. In Chardon, the picture-perfect county seat, you can sample a maple stir for $1 at the town square's sugarhouse. A favorite local treat, a maple stir is a bowl of hot syrup stirred with a stick until it turns into tasty maple candy. Out in the countryside, learn how Native Americans invented maple sugaring at Swine Creek county park; take a wagon ride through the maples at Sugarbush Creek Farm; and chat with an Amish farmer as he tends the wood-fired evaporator at Sugar Valley Maple. (Visit the Amish sugarhouses on Saturday because they're closed on Sunday, and bring cash. Virtually every sugarhouse sells fresh syrup, but small operations don't take plastic.) Prices range from about $10 for a pint of syrup to $50 for a gallon. And one final tip: Wear boots. Geauga County is snow country, and in March, locals say the white stuff is "sugar snow" that makes the sap run faster and the sugarhouses seem cozier.