Adapted from an earlier post
By Peter Kurtz, Environmental Education Program Specialist
Did you know it’s almost maple syrup time? Every year at the end of winter, maple trees can be tapped to collect sap. This sap can be turned into maple sugar and syrup. In Philadelphia, the sugaring season runs from February into March.
Parks & Rec sites across the city will celebrate this winter’s end tradition over the next month. Our environmental centers and partners host maple sugaring events for children and adults. Read more about maple sugaring, and come check it out for yourself at one of our events!

How it works

Maple sugar is a product that’s unique to North America. 70% of the world’s supply comes from the province of Quebec in Canada. Maple syrup is also produced commercially in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and the upper midwest. All species of maple can provide sap to produce sugar. But the aptly named sugar maple is the preferred species. It provides more sap over the course of the season than other species.
A maple tree in the process of being tapped. Photo provided by Trish Fries.

Here’s how to tap a tree:

  1. Find a healthy tree at least a foot in diameter.
  2. Drill a small, 7/16” hole about 3” into the trunk of the tree.
  3. Place a bucket under each tap to collect the sap.
When a warm day follows a freeze, sap will flow from the tap. A good day can produce up to two gallons of sap per tap.

Sweet rewards

Maple sap is a wonderful drink on its own. You can also boil it down to make syrup or sugar. For many years, maple sap was boiled down outdoors in big vats over a fire. You can see how this works at one of our maple sugaring events.
The evaporator at the Wissahickon Environmental Center. Photo by Trish Fries.

It’s also easy to make maple syrup or sugar in your kitchen. But it takes some time to make a good amount. Five gallons of sap will boil down to one pint of syrup, or about one pound of sugar. Try it once, and you will understand why pure maple syrup is so expensive. If you’d like to try this at home, come to one of our maple sugaring programs to learn how!

You might also try making maple candy. Watch one of our demonstrations to learn how!

                                         Maple candy making at Pennypack Environmental Center. Photo provided by Peter Kurtz.

2020 maple sugaring events at Parks & Rec sites

Listed in chronological order

Pennypack Environmental Center

Maple Sugar Workshop

February 8, 2020
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Learn how to make maple syrup and sugar from the trees in your backyard. Indoor session followed by a short walk to tap maple trees.

Tacony Creek Park

Maple Sugaring Festival

Tabor Gateway, 744 East Tabor Rd. 19120
February 15, 2020
2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In October, Tacony Creek Park neighbors joined with Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership and BKLvisions to create a beautiful maple tree with leaves that express how they feel about trees, water, and nature. See the tree at the Maple Sugaring Festival, add more leaves, and learn about and enjoy delicious maple syrup! Rain/snow date: Saturday, February 22, same time & place.

Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center

Maple Sugar Day

February 22, 2020
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Bring the family to see how we make maple syrup and maple candy, and enjoy fun winter activities. Taste maple syrup!

Wissahickon Environmental Center- Tree House

Maple Sugar Day on Forbidden Drive

February 29, 2020
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Join us on Forbidden Drive (near Northwestern Ave.) for maple sugaring demonstrations, pancakes with real maple syrup, a taste test of different syrups, and freshly made maple candy to taste. Pennsylvania Maple Syrup products will be available for purchase. No registration is necessary for this free, all-ages event. This all-weather event is held outdoors.

Fox Chase Farm

Maple Sugar Day at Fox Chase Farm

March 7, 2020
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Enjoy maple tours, candy making, pancake tasting, maple product sales, crafts, storytelling, and winter-themed games. $3.00 per person.


Each month of the year, our centers host great events like bird-watching, moonlit hikes, and hands-on activities for adults and children. View the options in our handy Finder app.