The sugarhouse and museum reopen June 1 (the same day as our 33rd Annual Wildflower Festival), but the trails at The Rocks are open year-round, every day, from dawn to dusk.
The Maple Trail begins at the parking area, where you’ll head up the grassy path to the right of Fanny’s Playhouse and turn left into the woods. The wide trail leads visitors through the forest and past the site of the Glessner Family’s “Big House.” John Jacob and Frances Glessner created The Rocks in the late 1800s, and their family spent summers here for many years. While the 19-room mansion designed by Isaac Elwood Scott no longer stands, the Maple Trail passes by the bee house, where Frances kept bees for a time. (Read more about the fascinating history of The Rocks here.)
Beyond the bee house the Maple Trail turns left through a break in the stone wall and meanders down through the sugar orchard. Look for the blue and black sap lines running through the trees. Interpretive signs along the trail explain the process of maple sugaring, a springtime ritual at The Rocks and throughout New England for many generations. You’ll learn why sap flows in sugar maple trees during the warming days of early spring, how to identify a sugar maple from other trees in the forest, and some of the history of sugaring.
The trail ends at the former sawmill/pigpen building, constructed in 1906 and carefully restored for use as The Rocks’ sugarhouse and Maple Museum. (Take a look inside the Museum with our online panoramic view.) In the sugarhouse, you’ll see some of the equipment used to boil sap into maple syrup and sugar and view a video of the sugaring process. The interactive museum features both modern and historic sugaring equipment. Both open June 1. The magnificent view from the building is of Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range.
To return to the parking lot, head up the road (to the left, as you’re looking at the mountains) a bit and follow the signs back into the woods. The trail winds up the hill and back to Fanny’s Playhouse, where you’ll find maps and information about some of the other trails at The Rocks.
A walk along the Maple Trail takes 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how long you spend taking in the scenery, reading the signs, and enjoying your time in this beautiful place. Leashed pets are always welcome at The Rocks.