Purple Woods Conservation Area
|Location:||Scugog Township, Ontario|
|Character:||Sugar Maple Forest|
Purple Woods Conservation Area
By Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority
Purple Woods Conservation Area, the site of the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority’s annual Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival, is a 17-hectare sugar maple forest and open meadow located in the midst of the provincially significant Oak Ridges Moraine. Here one can use the viewing platform that is only steps from the parking area to get a tremendous view south all the way to Lake Ontario from the crest of the Oak Ridges Moraine.
A short 0.5 km trail allows for a quick stroll down into the hollow. This is where you will find the sugar shack, which is the heart of this operating sugar bush. Visit in mid-March and discover how maple syrup production has changed from early native methods to the modern methods used today (Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival). Syrup and maple products are also available for sale at this time. If you visit in the spring and summer, you may have the opportunity to see or hear some of the more common forest birds in the canopy of this mature deciduous forest.
HIKING: The short trails at Purple Woods Conservation Area are great for a quick stroll through the mature sugar maple forest. Those looking for a more extended hike can access the Oak Ridges Trail from this Conservation Area.
PET POLICY: Pets are permitted within Purple Woods Conservation Area. Please clean up after your pet, and keep them on a leash (maximum 2 m long) at all times. Please note that dogs are not permitted at Purple Woods Conservation Area during the Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival (mid-March). Pet owners violating these regulations will be fined.
WILDLIFE VIEWING: A short hike into the middle of the mature sugar maple forest will often reward visitors with the sweet sounds of several different forest bird species.
NATURE STUDIES: This area is a great place to go for those wanting to improve their forest plant and bird identification skills without having to venture too far from the car.
Season of Operation
This conservation area is open year round.
Directions to Purple Woods Conservation Area
Purple Woods is located approximately 5 minutes north of Oshawa at the intersection of Simcoe Street and Coates Road (Concession 10).
Maple Syrup Festivals
By Christine Wisman
Last spring was the first time I attended not only one but two Maple Syrup Festivals.
My first stop was Sunderland, Ontario, 100 km northeast of Toronto, where they close down most of their main street so vendors could set up shop, bathtub racing could take place and horse-drawn wagon rides were held.
For entertainment there was the McCakill Line Dancers and the Outback Cloggers along with others. The music and dancing were great to watch. I couldn't help but sing along with the songs that I knew. I even noticed a young girl, who wasn't more than 3 years old, dancing along the side of the stage with the dancers.
There was also a Militia re-enactment with drill demos, pancake eating contests, a Doggy Fashion and Talent Show, Arts and Crafts and Harlaine Maple tours to witness the miraculous transformation of sap into maple syrup.
The best part of Sunderland was their all day pancake breakfast which was served at the local legion. The line-up was slightly long but well worth the wait when you got your pancakes with the delicious homemade maple syrup.
My next stop was Purple Woods Conservation Area, just north of Oshawa, where the Oshawa 21st Scout Group and many other volunteers held its 36th Annual Maple Syrup Festival. This is held on top of Oak Ridges Moraine where you get a spectacular view. I was told that only a few years ago, you were still able to see the Toronto skyline but the trees have grown too tall now to see.
On top of the ridge there was a pancake tent where you could get your fill of pancakes and maple syrup. Once you were full, you could walk off those pancakes by hiking the trails of the conservation area. Here I saw hundreds of Sugar Maple trees all attached by plastic pipelines and only a few that are tapped with a sap bucket attached. Along the trails there were historical displays where they showed how maple syrup was discovered and the old methods of boiling.
As I came to the bottom of the trail there was a remnant pioneer log cabin complete with artifacts that they used back in the day and horse-drawn wagon rides and of course, the Sugar Shack. Here you see a huge stainless steel pot on top of a burning stove with gallons of sap being boiled down. There is nothing in the world like the smell of maple syrup being boiled.
In that moment, standing in their sugar shack, I was reminded of the years I spent with my grandpa in our sugar shack at the cottage, the hours spent boiling down our sap and how lucky I am to know how this process is done. Even more so I look forward to our future annual boiling held each and every year at the family cottage.
Maple syrup season is the time of year that reminds us that the warmer weather is just around the corner, a good reason to snap out of those winter blues and visit your closest Maple Syrup Festival. You won't be disappointed.