GET ACTIVE: A sweet hike through the sugarbush

It’s not uncommon to work up an appetite after a workout. After this hike, you might just have a hankering for pancakes.

Part education, part recreation, the Aullwood Farm Sugarbush Walks add a little learning to your scenic stroll through the sprawling grove of sugar maple trees.

“You can have an educational experience and get your steps in,” said Laurie Cothran, Aullwood Audubon development and marketing manager.

As the days get longer, sap begins moving in the sugar maple trees making this an ideal time to explore the sugarbush and the sugar house and, maybe, get a taste of the fresh maple sap. Hikers will discover how sugar maple trees are tapped for their sap and how that sap is turned into sweet maple syrup all while enjoying a short hike led by one of the Aullwood educators.

“It’s fun to learn something new and have someone explain the process to you,” Cothran said.

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A round trip hike to the sugar house measures in at just over a half mile but that can be just the beginning of a much longer adventure as the 200-acre wildlife sanctuary includes eight miles of walking trails that wind through woods and wetlands, prairies and ponds. The trails can be explored at your leisure, not just during organized hikes.

“You could cobble together a much longer hike and increase your steps by hiking several trails,” Cothran said. “And maybe even pass a troll or two.”

Aullwood is the home of “The Troll that Hatched an Egg,” an exhibition by recycle artist Thomas Dambo with the giant creatures found along their own 1.3-mile Troll Trail. But long before the trolls took up residence, there were other adorable Aullwood inhabitants with a sustainable farm on site.

But this time of year, sap and syrup are the stars. And if you’d prefer a hearty breakfast before you hike, the upcoming pancake brunch offers both. Friends of Aullwood board members will try their hand at flapjack flipping. Guests can also fuel up with sausage and eggs before heading out on the Sugarbush Trail with Aullwood volunteers leading the way and explaining the process of maple sugar making.

“What’s better than mixing fitness with pancakes,” Cothran said with a smile.

Learn More

* Aullwood Farm

Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

General admission: $12 adults (13-64 years old), $10 Seniors (65+ and active-duty military), $8 children (4-12), children 3 and under are free unless otherwise noted.

Membership: Members of Friends of Aullwood, National Audubon Society and ANCA are admitted free. Membership info at https://aullwood.audubon.org/landing/about/become-member

More: Aullwood walks are weather dependent and are cancelled if there is thunder, lightning or heavy rain.

* Sugarbush Walk

What: Learn how maple syrup making got its start, take a hike in the sugarbush and taste a delicious syrupy treat.

When: Saturday, March 5 at 2:30 p.m.

Where: Aullwood Farm, Charity A. Krueger Farm Discovery Center, 9101 Frederick Pike

Tickets and info: https://aullwood.company.site/ or call 937-890-7360

* Pancake Brunch

What: Enjoy a delicious brunch, a walk in the sugarbush and a visit with the farm animals at Aullwood Farm

When: Sunday, March 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Aullwood Farm, 9101 Frederick Pike

Tickets and info: https://aullwood.company.site/ or call 937-890-7360

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