Tuesday, March 15, 2016

2016 NH Maple Experience is Here!

As spring returns to the North Country this year, so does the New Hampshire Maple Experience at The Rocks Estate. Scheduled to run March 12, 19-20, 26 and April 2, the Maple Experience offers visitors a chance to learn about and participate in each step of maple sugaring, a treasured rite of spring in the area.

“The Maple Experience program at The Rocks is really hands-on, and that’s what sets us apart from other maple tours,” said Nigel Manley, manager of The Rocks Estate. “Participants drill holes in the trees, put taps in, and hang buckets. They also learn to identify different types of trees, so they can tap their own sugar maples at home.”

Maple Experience visitors will enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride through the historic Rocks Estate as part of the program. An interpretive guide is on board each wagon, sharing some of the local history and information about sugaring.

Maple Experience tours include a visit to the sugar house, tucked into one of the many renovated historic buildings at The Rocks. Here, visitors will watch fourth-generation sugar maker Brad Presby at work. Guests are invited to purchase a New Hampshire Maple Experience commemorative mason jar to fill at the sugar house with warm syrup to bring home.

Adjacent to the sugar house is the interactive maple museum and education center, featuring maple sugaring artifacts from the extensive collection of legendary Sugar Hill sugar maker Charlie Stewart.
Visitors will also enjoy a maple syrup tasting – paired with the traditional fresh donut and sour pickle. Maple cooking demonstrations by chefs from the Sugar Hill Inn, Chef Joe's Catering Service, Adair Country Inn and Indian Head Resort. will be staged each day of the Maple Experience at noon. Onlookers will be invited to sample the finished product, and each recipe will be printed and available for visitors to take home. Kingdom Kernels Kettle Corn will be onsite, with their delicious fresh popcorn in a variety of flavors including maple.

The Rocks and its gift shop will be open during Maple Experience days from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Maple tours are offered at 10 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:15 p.m., and 2 p.m. Reservations are recommended, with walk-in visitors allowed as space allows.

The Rocks staff will be selling mixes from widely-famous Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar
For those looking to turn the Maple Experience into a weekend-long North Country stay, Hill. The Rocks is again partnering with local inns to offer weekend vacation packages.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2015 Maple Experience is a wrap, but Maple fun continues at The Rocks!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the farm to enjoy the 2015 New Hampshire Maple Experience this year! While our official Maple Experience season is a wrap, there is plenty to do at The Rocks Estate throughout the year, and we hope you’ll visit us again soon.

If you missed the Maple Experience weekends, don’t despair! Check out our custom private tours – from maple to moose and wild flowers to wild turkeys, we’ll build a guided tour around your interests! (Visit our Blog post about custom tours, or contact us at (603) 444-6228 or info@therocks.org to learn more.)

And if you simply can’t get enough maple, join us Saturday, April 11, for our annual Maple Dinner at The Rocks. The dinner is catered by Chef Joe Peterson of Franconia, who skillfully works maple into each delectable course. The Maple Dinner benefits The Rocks Projects Fund, which helps finance educational programs offered year-round at the farm. Reservations are recommended. More information, including the menu, is available at our online calendar.

The Rocks’ also offers a self-guided Maple Experience tour during the summer and fall. From July through mid-October, visitors are invited to stroll the Maple Trail at The Rocks and visit the interactive museum. The trail meanders along old stone walls, through forest, field, and sugar orchard. Interpretive signs along the way share information about the Estate’s enchanting history as well as the time-honored tradition of maple sugaring.

Our hiking and walking trails are open year-round, and The Rocks hosts a variety of events and educational discussions throughout the year. To find out what’s happening, please visit our online calendar. We hope to see you at the farm soon!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Custom Maple Tours at The Rocks Estate

On weekends during maple sugaring season, syrup lovers flock to The Rocks to enjoy the New Hampshire Maple Experience. But sometimes folks are passing through during the week and miss out on the fun.

A young visitor from Texas learns how to tap a tree.
To accommodate those mid-week visitors, we’re offering private custom Maple Tours at The Rocks. The tours started quite by accident, really, when a few people called last year looking for a maple tour during the week. They ended up getting a two-hour private maple excursion with Rocks Estate manager Nigel Manley, and a new adventure was born at The Rocks.

“The thing I like the best when I’m on vacation is usually something that happens by mistake. You manage to meet the owner of a place, or you run into people who are really enthusiastic and knowledgeable about something you’re doing, and you learn from them,” says Manley. “People want that happy coincidence, and these custom tours allow us to make sure they get it.”

During the custom-made private Maple Tours, small groups – generally 2-5 people – get the full Maple Experience – in a timeframe that meets their specific scheduling needs. While the program can be adjusted to accommodate each group, generally it includes a short video covering the intriguing history of maple sugaring, a discussion on how to identify and tap a maple tree, a visit to the sugar house to learn what happens there, exploring the interactive maple museum, and a sampling of maple syrup.

“Both my 9-year-old and my teenager loved our maple tour,” says Tara Edelman, whose family visited last week for a custom tour at The Rocks. “It was really fun and informative.”

Custom tour visitors leave with a half-gallon of maple syrup – and many happy memories. To help hold onto the latter, Manley sets up a Pinterest board for each group with photographs from the day.

While maple sugaring season is short-lived, the custom Maple Tour is available year round – even when the sap is not running and the sugar house is not in operation. “It’s really exciting for people,” says Manley. “Even if they get to tap a tree in October instead of March, that’s pretty cool for them if they’re coming from someplace where maple syrup is not a regular springtime ritual.”

Beyond Maple Tours, The Rocks offers custom experiential tours year round, covering topics from the Estate’s formal gardens and captivating history to the art and science of growing Christmas trees and informative wildlife adventures.

Custom tours are $250 per group for two hours (and the maple tour includes a ½ gallon of syrup). To learn more or book a tour, call The Rocks at (603) 444-6228 or email info@therocks.org.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It's Maple Time!

We love winter at The Rocks Estate, but we’re also really excited to see the days growing longer, the sun making more regular appearances, and the sap buckets appearing on sugar maples around the property.

That’s right – its maple time! Maple sugaring season is always a favorite in this neck of the woods. Those buckets – and the more modern plastic tubing that reaches from tree to tree – are a sign that spring is on its way, and that our stores of maple syrup and sugar are about to be replenished!

A young guest helps tap a tree.
At The Rocks we love sharing the history, process, and pure deliciousness of maple season through our interactive New Hampshire Maple Experience. Visitors to the farm during maple season will hear about the long and intriguing history of this early spring ritual of the north woods, learn how to identify a sugar maple, and get a chance to tap a tree – the first step in collecting the sweet sap that is boiled down into maple syrup.

Other highlights of the Maple Experience include horse-drawn wagon rides through the estate and a visit to our working sugar house, where 4th-generation sugar maker Brad Presby shares an insider’s knowledge of all things maple.

The Maple Experience culminates in a syrup tasting, complete with a fresh donut to savor the sweetness, and a tart pickle for contrast. That pairing is as much a rite of spring’s arrival as buckets hanging from trees and smoke rising from the sugar house.

The New Hampshire Maple Experience comes to The Rocks Estate this year on March 14, 21-22, 28-29, and April 4. For more information, please call us at (603) 444-6228, visit the Maple Experience website, or check our online events calendar