Purple Woods Conservation Area is a great place to hike, year-round, with a spectacular southern view, access to the Oak Ridges Trail, and our Sugar Shack (500 m) and accessible Discovery Walk (900 m) trails. Spring and fall migratory song birds, summer monarch butterflies, and beautiful fall colours make this Conservation Area an all-seasons destination.
In March, everything changes. This 41-acre property, located on the top of the Oak Ridges Moraine, is home to a large and actively tapped 150-year-old sugar maple forest and our annual Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival. Purchase Festival tickets and discover how maple syrup production has changed from the early Indigenous Peoples' methods to the modern methods used today. Syrup and maple products are also available for sale during the Festival.
Scavenger Hunt Through the Seasons
MARVELOUS MONARCH - SUMMER
Check out the milkweed plants on the Discovery Trail, where you might see monarch caterpillars and chrysalis. If you are not able to find a monarch, then look for this giant sculpture in the pollinator garden. If you can find a stick nearby, you can actually tap the wings to make different sounds.
Click here for a free colouring page on the monarch butterfly and learn about their life cycle and why milkweed is so important. To learn more check out our blog posts, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Monarch Watch - Are You Ready?
SNOW SURVEY SIGN - WINTER
One of our winter monitoring projects is to measure the snowpack at this site, which is the furthest north part of our watershed. By calculating how much snow there is, we can determine the type of water levels in our creeks in the spring and if there is a potential flooding risk across our watershed.
For more information on snow and how snowflakes are formed, check out our blog post, Know Snow.
CHRISTMAS TREES - WINTER
It smells like Christmas. We make this wigwam every year to show a type of shelter that could have been used by Indigenous peoples in the area to provide them and their family with shelter. We used recycled Christmas trees that are donated to us from a local supplier, so they get a second life.
Learn about the different types of trees in Purple Woods Conservation Area. They are either deciduous (sugar maple) or coniferous (white pine). See how many different types of deciduous trees you can find. How many coniferous trees can you find? Check out Study.com's Deciduous vs. Coniferous Trees: Lesson for Kids
WANNA GO TUBING? - SPRING
We tap about 800 sugar maple trees using these blue tubes and spile, which is placed in the tree after we drill a hole into the bark.The sap rises up from the roots and by gravity, travels down the slope to the Sugar Shack, where we boil it to make delicious maple syrup. Did you know that it takes 40 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup?
Click here for activities and to learn about maple syrup.
CABIN - SPRING
Our early European Settlers would live in a cabin in the sugarbush with their family during the month of March and collect maple sap to make maple syrup as an important item to trade with merchants in local towns for things like butter, eggs and milk.
For more information on the history of maple syrup in Ontario, check out this website.
Visit all eight of our Conservation Areas throughout Durham Region. See you on the trails!