Maple Sugaring 2014 and A special look at Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center, Chatham NJ

2014 UPDATE:

Snowy days have not been great on my updating timeliness!  Want to know where the latest maple sugaring events are happening what’s left of February 2014 and March?
Here are a few links to some great nature/environmental centers:

Bergen county:

Tenafly Nature Center Maple Sugaring- LINK here to register ($5/Member $10/Non-members (Children under 2 are free). Pre-registration required. Please call (201) 568-6093 for more information or visit this link to the website)

  • (Sunday) Feb 16, 2014- 12:30-1:30pm ; 2pm-3pm
  • (Sunday) Feb 23, 2014- 12:30-1:30pm ; 2pm-3pm
  • (Sunday) Mar 2, 2014-  12:30-1:30pm ; 2pm-3pm
  • (Sunday) Mar 9, 2014-  12:30-1:30pm; 2pm-3pm
  • (Sunday) Mar 16, 2014-  12:30-1:30pm; 2pm-3pm
  • (Sunday) Mar 23, 2014- 10:30AM- PANCAKE BREAKFAST & Maple Sugaring -(Program intended for adults and families with children 5 and up.)

James A. McFaul Environmental Center

  • (Sunday) Mar 9, 2014-  9, 10, or 11am- Public Demonstration of Maple Sugaring- and Pancake Breakfast ($5/person) Reservations required, form here

Essex County

Check out our friends at Barista Kids for Maple Sugaring Events this winter! Link here

Hunterdon County

Maple sugaring-

(Saturday) Feb 15, 2014 1-2:30pm  at Echo Hill playground-“MAPLE SAP COLLECTION- ages 5 through adult; $3 per person”

  • Description: “One aspect of Maple Sugaring that is not really covered during our March Maple Sugaring program is collecting the sap.  Many methods are used on commercial farms, but the basic idea is the same—moving the sap from the maple trees to the stove.  Come find out and participate in the process at Echo Hill!  We will meet at the playground and then walk to the sugar bush (five to ten minutes).  This year, this program will also be available to groups during weekdays in February or early March—please call us to schedule a group.” ($30/group!)
  • More details here

(Saturday) Mar 8 2014 (9-3pm) “MAPLE SUGARING – PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE

  • Raindate: Sunday, March 9 (check our website or call 782-1158 for cancellation information; Tours begin every 20 minutes and last about 1 hour.  Pre-registration is not required.
  • More details here

Morris County

  • (Saturday) Feb 15 2014 2pm at Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center – Maple Sugaring Demo $3/person
  • (Sunday) Feb 16 2014 2pm at Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center – Maple Sugaring Demo $3/person
  • (Saturday) Feb 22 2014 2pm at Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center – Maple Sugaring Demo $3/person
  • (Sunday) Feb 23 2014 2pm at Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center – Maple Sugaring Demo  $3/person
  • (Saturday) Mar 1 2014 12PM – MAPLE SUGAR FESTIVAL -“Enjoy ‘Hikes through Maple Sugaring History,’ games, maple syrup snow cones, crafts, syrup taste tests, and more. Rain or shine.Cost: $4/person ages 3 & up.
    For more information, please call the Great Swamp OEC at 973.635.6629.”

Somerset County

Environmental Education Center located in Basking Ridge has a 90-minute program for Maple Sugaring during February and early March

Maple sugaring is a tradition in the Northeast that began centuries ago with the Native Americans and colonists. People of all ages are invited to see this tradition brought to life at the Environmental Education Center (EEC). You will see how trees are tapped, view sap-collecting methods past and present, and see the boiling process that produces delicious New Jersey maple syrup. This 90-minute program is conducted at our Sugar Shack, a ½-mile hike from the EEC. Please arrive at the EEC 20-30 minutes before the program start time. Organized groups (such as schools) may schedule weekday demonstrations by calling the EEC at 908 766-2489, ext. 332.
February 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, & 23, 2014
March 1, 2, 8, & 9, 2014
Saturdays – 10:00am, Noon, and 2:00pm
Sundays – Noon and 2:00pm”

Website here

Union County
(Saturday) Feb 15, 2014 1:30pm (and Monday Feb 17th at 3:30PM) at the Trailside Nature Center- “See how 100 percent real maple syrup is made from the sap of a sugar maple tree during “The Journey of Sap to Syrup.” Find out what equipment is needed to collect sap and take part in a taste test to see if you can identify the real thing. This “sap to syrup” program will be repeated on Monday, Feb. 17 at 3:30 p.m. For more events check out website here

(Sunday) Feb 23, 2014 1-4pM- Maple Sugaring Fest with Flapjacks! at Reeves-Reed Arboretum ($5/person or $20/family) Free to members- Includes a family scavenger hunt, maple syrup challenge and sampling maple syrup and flapjacks, for more details check out this link-

Now back to the review!!!!

Editor’s Note:  Thanks to Thu and family for checking out this great place, we love nature centers and are happy to include this one.

247 Southern Blvd, Chatham, NJ 07928, tel: 973-635-6629; GSOEC Hours:  Open 9am to 4:30pm daily- closed on major holidays

Trails: Open from dawn to dusk

General Info:

Trail Map:


On the last Sunday of February 2012, on the spur of the moment, we decided to check out the “Maple Sugaring Demo” and discovered the hidden gem “Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center (GSOEC)” in Chatham, Morris County.

The GSOEC small building looks like a wooded cabin inviting visitors to explore wildlife indoors and outdoors.  There are hands-on games in the hallway like “Feel the fur” and “Match the Dinosaurs”.  The Auditorium exhibits show life-size wildlife animals such as the White tail Deer”, “Black Bear”, “Grey Fox”.

Maple Sugar Demo

Once the demo began, our teacher Ms. Kristen, explained how to spot a Maple Tree, extracting sap, and converting it to Maple Sugar-Syrup.  Then, she took us outside to natural wooded Great Swamp; challenge us to find maples trees to collect its sap.   Our oldest son was very excited since he was asked to carry the collection bucket.  Then another teacher used an outdoor wooded stove to heat the sap, evaporate the water, to extract the sugar-syrup.


Afterwards, we were free to explore the 4 trails of the Great swamp.  Each trail is short less than a mile, so it’s perfect for our two young kids (6.5 and 3.5 yrs old) to run around in the woods.  GSOEC is a great Free indoor and outdoor place for kids to learn and play in nature. They also offer various kids/family programs, camps, birthday parties for a $fee.    Check out their website and calendar.

Side note to cyclists: Like to bike?  The Great Swamp area is awesome for cyclists, here is a map for 2 loops, Loop 1 is 18.1 miles, and Loop 2 is 24.3 miles.  I have two friends that are aiming for a 100 mile bike ride this year, and are beginning to train here.  Good luck Beth and Danielle!!! I’m a very beginner biker and managed to do my own version that was closer to 14 miles. I had to walk a real small part of it because of the hills, but in general it’s not that hilly..

Video & Pictures

Check out our video on the Great Swamp thanks to the Nguyens, Jay Sayah for another original creation for our soundtrack, and my long suffering husband, Rick for audio production:

Pictures are below:

Have you checked out all our other indoor play areas? We have included a map of all NJ indoor playgrounds, NJ children museums, including chuck e. cheeses in NJ and all your recommendations in one page. Check it out, and comment if we are missing something.