COUNTY—The Northeastern PA Maple Producers, along with the Wayne Conservation District and the Wayne County Penn State Cooperative Extension, present the annual Self-Guided Maple Tour kicks off this Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17 with nine local sugar bushes open for public perusal.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days, maple enthusiasts can visit Burke's Maple, Nebzydoski's Maple Farm, Shemanski Maple Syrup, Sugar Creek Maple Farm, Watts Hill Maple Farm, Morning Sun Farm, Augusta Acres, Journey's End Farm and Altmeier Sugar Shack to learn a little about how maple syrup is made.

The open houses are free for the public to attend.

“This is a great opportunity to see the maple syrup process from the tap to the table,” said Wayne County Conservation District Forestry Specialist Kelley Stewart in a press release.

She explained in a latter interview that due to the weather so far this year, many of the producers are likely to be in the midst of their first boils this year, sending the succulent syrup smell wafting through the air at the tour locations.

“Every sugar bush is different,” said Stewart, noting producers vary from large-scale production to small household operations.

Peggy Simons of Morning Sun Farm near Rileyville noted her operation is, “somewhat old fashioned in the way we make syrup.”

Simons explained, Morning Sun Farm, run alongside her husband Bob, is a small sugar bush using techniques that were commonplace in the 1800s.

“Going on a maple tour is like seeing Spring when it's still invisible,” said Simons. “It's the secret part of Spring.”

Reiterating that this weekend looks to be promising for maple production, Kristin Curtis of Journey's End Farm in Sterling explained the experience is “something you have to see in the moment.”

Given the promising syrup-harvesting weather recently, Curtis noted those on the tour will have “the chance to see how pure maple syrup is made and how simple/complicated it can be.”

In addition to the learning experience, visitors to Journey's End Farm, now in its fourth generation of operation, and the other sugar bushes on the tour will have the opportunity to sample and purchase fresh syrup and syrup products.

Tour takers can also attend a pancake breakfast on both days, featuring local syrups from producers on the tour.

Saturday's breakfast is from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Newfoundland Moravian Church and Sunday's is from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. by the Costello-Monahan-Brown American Legion Post 964 at the Pleasant Mount Community Center.

Both breakfasts cost $8 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under.

Maple enthusiasts can see as many or as few sugar bushes as they wish, though with between two and three hours of driving time connecting all nine locations, it may be best to split the trip over both days, Stewart recommended.

Helping those wishing to take the tour get around, there will be a bus tour leaving from the Park Street Complex in Honesdale at 8 a.m. and returning at 3 p.m. on both days.

The bus will take travelers to the pancake breakfast offered each day, then stop at around six of the producers of the tour.

Cost for the bus tour is only $8 per adult and $4 per child.

Those wishing to partake in the bus tour are asked to contact Kelley Stewart (570-253-0930) to reserve seating.

As of press time Monday afternoon, Saturday's bus tour was almost full but Sunday's still had plenty of room.

Noting that Pennsylvania is one of the leading maple syrup producers, Stewart stated the tour is also a great way to engage in local history, as the process was learned from Native Americans by early settlers.

“Sugar maples are unique to this continent,” said Stewart, “This makes maple syrup a unique product.”

More information about the self-guided maple tour is available from the Wayne Conservation District by phone (570-253-0930) or online (www.wayneconservation.org).

—Information from a release was used in this story.