March maple history hike

  • Nicholas Briggs and Brother William tap trees at sugar camp in 1878.   Courtesy

Published: 2/24/2021 10:03:57 AM

It’s maple syrup season. In March, join Mark Stevens for a four-mile round trip guided hiking tour to the Shaker’s remote sugar camp. Tours are March 20 and  March 27 from 1 to 3 p.m. Tickets are on sale at at $50 per person, and to ensure social distancing, each tour is limited to 12 people. Masks are required and participants should dress for the weather and come prepared to hike four miles round-trip through the woods on trails that could be muddy or icy. For more information, please contact Rae Easter at or 783-9511, ext. 205.

On this exclusive tour, take a walk back in time with local land surveyor Mark Stevens who will guide you to the remnants of the 1800’s Shaker Village maple sugar camp, now seemingly lost and forgotten deep in the woods. This site was once a thriving “sugar camp” that a group of Shakers relocated to each spring during the maple sugaring season during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Shakers spent their days gathering sap and evenings boiling maple syrup and making candy.

At the conclusion of the maple season, the Shakers would emerge from the camp and return to Shaker Village with their sweet harvest in hand. Records indicate that in 1864, at the height of American Civil War, the Shaker Village Church Family set out almost 1,200 wooden buckets for the gathering of sap and produced nearly 700 barrels of maple syrup. The syrup was not only an important sweetener for the Village community, but was also an important cash crop for sale to the outside world.

At the site, you’ll get to explore the foundation remnants, compare historic photos with existing site conditions, and hear an excerpt from a journal entry written in the late 1880s by Shaker Brethren Nicholas Briggs, where he describes life at this sugar camp when it was a hubbub of activity.

All participants in the tours will receive a complementary bottle of exclusive maple syrup made by David Lamb, which is produced locally from real Shaker maple trees.

Mark Stevens is a licensed land surveyor, certified wetlands scientist, and licensed designer of subsurface disposal systems. He has a degree in engineering from the Community College of the Air Force and a surveying and forestry management degree from Unity College.

Canterbury Shaker is located at 288 Shaker Road in Canterbury. For more information, visit

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