Highland County may be one of Virginia's most lovely places through its softly undulating hills, stunning mountain views, and charming tiny villages. Although the area is known for its natural beauty, it is maybe even more well-known for producing true Appalachian maple syrup. In fact, a Maple Syrup Trail has been established to promote this delectable local product.

The Virginia Maple Syrup Route promotes the production of pure maple syrup in the middle Appalachia region, where the specialty is continuously produced.


Even when the syrup manufacturers' busy processing season is through, their sugar camps remain open all year. Here visitors can discover their stories, see their machinery, and sample their delicious syrup.

Virginia is for lovers of maple syrup and the trail will not disappoint if visitors are looking for a delightful trip they won't ever forget.

Get The Passport And Start Exploring

The Virginia Maple Syrup Route leads to eight locations in Highland County, including farms, stores, and local shops. This passport program allows visitors to visit seven different sugar campsites in Highland County year-round, except the hectic Maple Festival days and weekends, to get a taste of each one. Two of the member camps are closed to the public during the Maple Fest, adding to the mystery. Visitors are encouraged to phone beforehand to the sugar campsites to book a tour, sample their syrup, and receive a passport stamp.

There will also be a reward if all seven sites are toured, but the true motivation is to have more personal time with the ranchers who administer the camps. The route is designed to be completed in phases so visitors can take their time to appreciate each stop while taking in the spectacular landscape.

RELATED: No Fakes Here: The Best (Authentic) Maple Syrup Your Money Can Buy

The Stages Or The Sugar Camps To Explore

Although all maple syrup makers produce wonderful pure maple syrup, each has its own history and expertise. Visitors can view and learn about anything from modest to big farms, conventional to modern techniques.

Puffenbarger's Sugar Orchard

In the middle of the Blue Grass Valley, Puffenbarger's Sugar Orchard is situated on Maple Sugar Road. The Puffenbarger family continues the tradition of their grandfathers by bottling authentic Virginia Maple Syrup from the very same sugarbush. To turn "sugar water" into delicious maple syrup, they presently use a vacuum collection system, a reverse osmosis unit, and an oil-fired evaporator.

Laurel Fork Sapsuckers Farm

Laurel Fork Sapsuckers is a family-run sugar farm that offers high-altitude vistas of western Highland County as well as a tour of the maple syrup production process. To construct their sugar campsite and event building, they utilized resources from their plantation as well as machinery from the county that was employed over a century ago. Through four various cooking methods, they will demonstrate the history and growth of the maple syrup business. After the tour, visitors can take a self-guided stroll on their recognized Tree Farm.

Mill Gap Farms

The USDA has recognized Mill Gap Farms as the only organic farm in Virginia. The farm uses cutting-edge expertise from Vermont and Quebec to make their maple syrup. Visitors can see Merino, Suffolk, Finn sheep, and hens and alpacas at the farm. Visitors can even camp in their cottages to experience Highland County's serenity and magnificent vistas.

Duff's Sugar Mill

Duff's Sugar Mill is a tiny, family-run old-fashioned sugarhouse where the plants are still manually opened, and the sugary water is gathered in buckets. Cooking takes place in a wood-fired exposed pan with an iron kettle for finishing. Visitors can get a detailed look at how syrup was created in the past and take a tour of a nineteenth-century farmhouse.

Back Creek Farms

Back Creek Farms is a new take on a conventional sugar production enterprise. Since before the Civil War, the Lowry household has been producing maple syrup, and they still utilize the open pan handed down from Pat Lowry's great-grandmother. They barrel-age their maple syrup and are constantly coming up with fresh infusions to entice visitors' palate in complement to genuine maple syrup. They also make hickory syrup.

Bruce's Syrup and Candies

Bruce's Syrup and Candies is situated on the Folks Family Ranch, which has been producing maple syrup and other goods for over five decades and faces the lovely Blue Grass Valley. They currently use a vacuum system, reverse osmosis, a state-of-the-art evaporator, filtration, and bottling machinery with the old-fashioned pailS and kettles they used in the beginning.

Sugar Tree Country Store & Sugar Cottage

Sugar Tree Country Store & Sugar Cottage is a unique rural store in the tiny village of McDowell, going back to the early 1800s. They make syrup using reverse osmosis technology, but they still cherish old-fashioned time with family to provide visitors with a comprehensive selection of maple products. Other items in their store include handcrafted apple butter, jam, and even birch sap, all of which may be carried home or mailed.

RELATED: If You're A Fan Of Pancakes, You Can't-Miss Pennsylvania's Maple Syrup Tour

Don't Miss The Highland County Maple Festival

The Highland County Maple Festival takes place every year in March on the second and third weekends. Visitors have been lured to Highland County for more than six decades to explore authentic maple sugar farms for a gastronomic and cultural excursion. The Highland County Maple Festival was recognized as a Local Legacy by the Library of Congress in 1999. The festival was designated as the state maple fest of Virginia by the Governor of Virginia in 2014.

Hundreds of travelers go to this unspoiled, rural part of Virginia each year to witness the blooming of the trees and the technique of maple syrup production. Sugar camp tours offer a unique and instructive experience that depicts a quickly disappearing way of life in the United States.

Hiking in the USA is must have experience and this trail surely finds a place on the list. The Virginia Maple Syrup Trail is a sweet treat packed with information and a beautiful landscape. It's definitely worth checking out for all maple syrup fans.