Highland County is home to the southernmost commercial Maple syrup producing industry in the United States. Our unique climate and elevation makes Highland County the prime location for maple syrup production in Virginia. Families in Highland County have been producing Maple syrup for hundreds of years with some families even continuing the tradition into the sixth and seventh generations. In addition, our Maple Festival, which takes place the second and third weekends in March is the second largest Maple Festival in the country and definitely the largest south of the Mason Dixon line!
If you find yourself in Highland County outside of our “Maple Season,” which runs from early February through the end of March, we hope you’ll still stop in to one of our camps and learn about one of Highland County’s signature products – maple syrup!
|Laurel Fork Sapsuckers
Do you know what a “sapsucker” is? If not, we suggest making a trip to the Laurel Fork Sapsuckers sugar camp to ask the Sapsuckers crew yourself! Laurel Fork Sapsuckers has the highest elevation of any sugar camp within Highland County and is located 10 miles west of Monterey off of Rt. 250 west, left onto Clay Hise Lane. They are a small, family-run sugar camp that is always welcoming hands-on participation. (By the way, the family, including family patriarch Ronnie Moyers, holds a goal to give hand-shakes to every visitor!) While you’re there, enjoy seeing the traditional, wood-fired way maple syrup has been made for centuries as they use one-hundred-year-old, locally-made open pans in their production process. Enjoy the ¾ mile loop trail through the sugar bush with various outdoor kids activities available. Call ahead to schedule a visit. (540) 468-2289 Follow them on Facebook!
|Rexrode’s Sugar Orchard
Located north of Hightown on Route 637 (Maple Sugar Road), Rexrode’s Sugar Orchard features a stand of maple trees well over 200-years-old. The Rexrodes use the old-fashioned, open-pan system of evaporation as well as the newer wood-fired evaporation method with miles of plastic tubing to gather the sugar water. Carrying on the family tradition of maple syrup making, Derek Rexrode, Highland County’s youngest sugar producer, makes sure things run according to plan. And his grandmother, Anna Lee, is close by supervising like she did for many years when her husband and veteran sugar producer, Everett, ran the camp. Call ahead to schedule a visit. (540) 468-2725 Follow them on Facebook!
|Sugar Tree Country Store & Sugar House
Located near the center of McDowell, this operation employs a modern reverse osmosis concentrator and oil-fired evaporator. Operators Glenn and Fern Heatwole are always excited to welcome guests with a warming smile, and Glenn and his family are always happy to take you through their syrup-making process. Guests can also view antique maple-producing tools that are on display! Not only can guests learn about syrup-making, but Sugar Tree Country Store also offers a great shopping opportunity. This old country store features maple products (of course!) as well as pottery, jams, hand-made rugs, children’s books and toys, and other cooking sauces and kitchen utensils. Closed on Sundays. (540) 396-3469. Visit their website!
|Duff’s Sugar House at Fair Lawn Farm
Located southwest of Monterey (3 mi. south on U.S. 220 and 3 mi. west on Route 84), Duff’s Sugar House is a small, family-run sugar house where the trees are still “opened” by hand and the sugar water is still collected in buckets. Owners Tim and Terry Duff pride themselves on making their visitors trip a homecoming experience. Their motto is “You come as guests and leave as friends,” and that is surely evident by their warm, Highland County hospitality. In addition to Duff’s Sugar House, guests (or new friends!) can also tour Fair Lawn Farm, where the sugar house is located. Farm animals, an apple orchard, and a pond are just some of the things to experience while you’re there. (540) 468-3094 Visit their website!
|Puffenbarger’s Sugar Orchard
Puffenbarger’s Sugar Orchard has been in operation for over 100 years. Ivan Puffenbarger, who owns the camp today, started helping his father, Melvin, when he was too little to do much. When Melvin operated the orchard, he drilled trees with an auger operated by hand, collected the sugar water in buckets, and carried those buckets by horse to the sugar house. He would only make about 10 gallons of syrup a day, which was very good in that era. Ivan helped his father until he married his wife, Sis. They decided to purchase the maple syrup business from Melvin in 1959, and they immediately set out to make substantial changes. Their main focus was on increasing production. Ivan and Sis built a new sugar house and began using a tractor to tow barrels of sugar water back to the sugar house. They went from 250 buckets collected each day to about 1,000, and it took eight men most of the night to collect all of the water. Today, Puffenbarger’s Sugar Orchard is one of the most state-of-the-art sugar camps in Highland County. (540) 468-2771 Visit their website!