Who wants pancakes smothered in maple syrup? I do, I do! I am in Barrie in March and it is the perfect time to squeeze in a few end of season Winter activities and experience my first Ontario Maple Syrup Sugar Bush. Where am I headed? My first stop will be to check out the 100+-year-old Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bush for PANCAKES drenched in golden syrup and the rest of the day will be spent exploring the great outdoors at Horseshoe Resort. Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, tubing down a mountainside and my first attempt at Fat Biking. It is a winter wonderland less than 2 hours North of Toronto and only a 15-minute drive from my staycation home base at Casino Rama Resort. Let’s begin.
Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bush – The most important meal of the day is breakfast and what better way to start my day than a visit to the Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bush. Five generations have tapped the trees on this land since 1904 and there is no sign of them slowing down. You can walk the trails of the Sugar Bush and everywhere you look you will see the sap running. Most of the trees are tapped with the sap running through tubes directly to the production facility.
They do have a few trees tapped in the old school way with a bucket. Drip, drip, drip. It takes 40 litres of clear sap to make 1 litre of maple syrup. One drip at a time it’s a slow process. Thank god Shaw’s have over 4000 trees in their Sugar Bush.
If you visit during the weekend you’ll have a chance to enjoy horse-drawn waggon rides through their trails. It recreates the way they collected the sap until the late 1960s.
Ok, now for the good stuff. Be prepared for a lineup. On weekends people will line up out the door for Shaw’s Maple Syrup famous pancake breakfasts. I’m personally not a fan of flapjacks so for me it is all about the French Toast. While you wait for breakfast to be delivered check out the maple syrup and family history that lines the pancake house walls.
With a full belly, it is now time to burn some calories. The one stop for the day is Horseshoe Resort where all manner of winter activities are available. The big question is where to start.
In no particular order here are some of the activities you can try out for yourself. By the way, there is a lodge with lockers for you to leave valuables and grab a hot beverage or two if it is really cold out. They also have plenty of rentals on hand so you don’t need to have any equipment to enjoy the activities.
What the hell is a fat bike? Apparently, it is the latest winter sports trend. Imagine a trail bike with super fat tires designed to ride the snow packed trails. This is not your commute to work bike unless of course if your commute is from your house to the back forty of your property. Not as hard as you may think and plenty of fun for all ages and abilities.
Cross County Skiing
Inspired by Nordic Olympians? Try your skill at cross country skiing. Rental equipment is on hand at the lodge if you don’t have your own. It’s a great cardio workout and for those of us with bad knees, it is very low impact. Doesn’t Alexa look ready to rock the trails?
How does a 200+ pound man walk on the top of snow? With snowshoes of course. Hit the deep drifts without sinking all the way to the bottom. Rentals provided at the lodge.
What goes up must come down. Now, this is my kind of sport. An escalator takes you to the top of the mountain. Then you sit in your tube and whizz down to the bottom of the hill screaming like a twelve-year-old. It’s awesome and worth repeating as many times as you can. Join tubes with a friend and you’ll go down even faster.
Of course, all this sportiness and activity has me calling out for a spa treatment and some pool time back at Casino Rama Resort. After I enjoy a little fireside warm up first, though. Anyone have the ingredients to make Smores?