Last fall, I took an ATV ride along the trails that wind through the beautiful Great North Woods of New Hampshire and Vermont with Corrine Rober of Bear Rock Adventures. Corrinne knows the extensive trail system intimately, as her company rents ATVs and snowmobiles in the Great North Woods. For this particular ride, she suggested a trip to April’s Maple in Canaan, Vermont, on the western side of the Connecticut River. The route would take us along the Rail Trail through Colebrook & Stewartstown and the Commerce Trail in Canaan, Vermont.
We left Bear Rock’s headquarters in a Polaris side-by-side and made our way along backcountry trails, stopping at several scenic outlooks, before running alongside the Connecticut River for several miles until we reached West Stewartstown. A quick ride along Main Street took us over the river and into Canaan, Vermont, where we hooked up with the ATV trail again. Another 30 minutes of scrambling up and down steep, rocky slopes and winding through dark forest brought us to the home of April’s Maple.
April’s Maple is run by April Lemay, who gave up a lucrative career in business so she could return to her family’s maple syrup farm. The company is located on 800 acres of land that has been in the Jackson family for generations.
Obviously, maple trees dominate the surrounding forest, connected by a marvelously complex and Dr. Seuss-like network of hoses that carry the syrup to the sugaring house each spring. (Gone are the quaint hammered-in spigots and metal buckets most people envision when they think of maple syrup harvesting.) When I finally met April, one of my first questions was what happens when a moose meets up with all those tap lines. “It’s a real mess,” she replied.
The April’s Maple store and restaurant offers the ideal respite to a day on the trails. The kitchen serves all kinds of maple-based sandwiches and treats, including all-day pancakes, sliders (BBQ, ham and cheddar, roasted chicken), maple griddle sandwiches, hot dogs, soups, salads, chili, and more. But the most famous item on the menu is the Maple Cremee—maple soft-serve ice cream served in a cone and dipped in maple crunch. I’m happy to say, it lived up to the hype. Meanwhile, the store sells every type of syrup product imaginable, from syrup by the quart to maple candy to maple mustard and cotton candy.
After lunch and a tour of the syrup-production facility, Corrine and I climbed back into the ATV and headed back along the trails to New Hampshire. And I had to agree that April’s Maple was a pretty sweet destination for an ATV ride.