Maple Tree Tapping


By Merrily Borg Babcock

Spring is in the air, and it’s a good time to get out of the house for a visit to Wayzata’s Big Woods and Shaver Park. The Maple Sugaring season is upon us and soon we will be able tap the trees for the syrup making process.

Tree tapping for maple sugaring is dependent on the weather. Temperatures need to be below freezing at night and above freezing during the daytime. When temperatures are between 28 and 40 degrees, the fluctuation creates the ideal situation for the sap to flow. 

All materials needed for tapping trees will be provided, thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, The Retreat, a recovery center located in the heart of the Big Woods.

Here are some of the interesting things participants will learn at this event:

  • It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
  • Trees to be tapped must be at least 12 inches in diameter.
  • Sugar Maple, Black, Red and Silver Maple are the best trees to tap, because they have the highest sugar content, but Birch, Walnut or Boxelder may also be tapped.
  • Native Americans taught Minnesota pioneers the skill of making maple syrup, which provided sweetener when sugar was scarce.
  • We will use cans to collect sap, but the Native Americans used birch bark containers fixed with fir tree pitch glue the bark together to stop leaking.
  • Native Americans knew it was time to move to the “sugar bush” camp (the hardwood maple forests) when they saw the crows return.
  • Maple sugaring stops when the sap runs cloudy, the trees start budding, or the frogs start croaking after a thunder and lightning storm.
The sap will be reduced outside on a barrel wood stove in the Old Holdridge neighborhood.  All working “sappers” will be able to bring home syrup depending on their chosen tree and the length of Mother Nature’s sapping season.


If you are interested in learning more about the Maple Sugaring process, the Parks and Trails Board will be organizing the Maple Tree Tapping event this late-Winter/early Spring 2019. The event is free and open to the public.

Registration is currently filled for 2019.