Savouring a Weekend Getaway on Lanark County’s Maple Trail
It goes without saying that Canadians are well known for their maple syrup. That sweet, liquid gold I pour so generously on my pancakes every Sunday. In Ontario, Lanark County is known as the province’s Maple Capital where towns are taking the beloved maple and incorporating it in all different kinds of tasty ways that will have any foodie surprised and delighted, myself included! I was lucky enough to be invited by Lanark County Tourism to explore the Maple Trail. Knowing that my mom loves food as much as me, I brought her along for a food-filled road trip.
Keep on reading to find out how to plan your weekend getaway on Lanark County’s Maple Trail.
The History of Maple
Before I can even dive into food, I always think it’s good to get a bit of background on what I’m eating. When it comes to maple, Canada is the world’s largest producer with a long-standing history. Aboriginals were the very first to start tapping trees for maple. Wheelers Maple located in the Lanark County, states that the legend of Maple actually dates back over 4,000 years ago where a child saw an icicle growing off a broken twig and when he gave it a taste, it was sweet. After showing his family broken twigs with icicles, they started harvesting the sweet sap by digging underneath a root, severing it, and collecting the sap.
Interestingly, there are over 129 species of maple tree worldwide, but just three are good for producing maple. Also, it typically takes 40 litres of maple sap to turn into just one litre of maple syrup! While maple syrup is the most popular product, you should definitely give maple butter, maple sugar, and maple taffy a try if you haven’t already done so.
Fun Things to Do for Foodies in Lanark County
A great way to explore this maple haven is to hop on a bike a cycle through the countryside. If you are looking for some great routes, click here to find the best routes in Lanark County.
If you’re like me though, you may hate riding up a bunch of hills. At Heritage Bikes, they offer e-bikes which do most of the work for you! My mom especially loved the e-bike which was easy and quick to learn how to use.
You can rent the bikes and explore on your own, or book a tour with options to choose the town, countryside, and custom tours. Since my mom and I wanted to continue on the Maple Trail, we went on a custom tour. Along the way, we would stop at historic landmarks where our guide would tell us interesting stories about the area. For example, we learned that Canada’s last pistol duel was held in Perth between two men fighting over a woman – a tale as old as time.
As part of our maple experience, we cycled to Coutt’s Country Flavours Store. This local shop has been in the same family for over 150 years. The family has around 6,000 maple trees which they tap to create some fantastic maple products from fresh syrup, to homemade baked goods, maple butter, and maple jellies. My mom and I tried the maple iced fudge brownie which was deee-lish!
Top Shelf Distillers
This is a very cool distillery to visit which makes vodka, gin, cocktail bitters and best of all…moonshine! Prior to visiting, I wasn’t too keen on tasting moonshine since I’m not fond of drinks that make my throat burn. However, after visiting I think moonshine may be my favorite new drink!
Top Shelf Distillers is a fairly new company having only opened in 2014, but they’ve revived a 200-year tradition of distilling in the town of Perth. I especially liked that they always try to source locally so the maple they use for moonshine, for instance, comes directly from the Lanark County region. I was lucky enough to get a tour of their facility and then do some sampling after.
They have many different flavors of moonshine from Maple to Apple Pie, Mint, Blueberry, and 100 Proof. I was told the best way to sample moonshine is to treat it like wine. Swirl it around in your glass, give it a smell, and take a small sip. My favorite was the apple pie, which was sweet and easy to drink without the strong taste of alcohol. I liked it so much, I even bought a bottle to bring back home.
I think this may be the start of me becoming a moonshine aficionado.
The Good Food Tour
Located in Almonte which is just a 40-minute drive from Perth or a 35-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, this food tour is a fantastic way to explore the maple trail with local businesses. The tour is run by Cathy Reside, who seems to know everyone in Almonte, and has great knowledge and love for her town. Her ‘Good Food Tour’ takes around 3 hours to complete with plenty of food and drink samplings to leave you stuffed at the end, so come hungry!
On our Downtown Meets Uptown tour, we visited a coffee shop, brewery, and chocolate shop just to name a few! I won’t spoil all the foodie adventures here, but I can say that my mom and I had a great time sampling and exploring the beautiful town of Almonte.
Equator Coffee Roasters
Included on The Good Food Tour, this place was started by a husband and wife duo. Together, they’ve been roasting, delivering, and serving, fresh, fairtrade organic coffee since 1998. This was such an interesting place to visit since you actually get to see the facility where they roast their coffee. On tour, we learned all about the process of coffee from producing to sourcing, roasting, and brewing. It’s quite a lengthy process and the berries that coffee beans come from all have to be picked by hand. Afterward, you will have a much deeper appreciation for coffee.
We ended the tour by sampling coffee. A few tips I learned to make the perfect coffee:
- Grind the coffee just before you plan to brew. A burr grinder is the best option to use
- Use filtered water and boil exactly to 190 for darker roasts, and 205 for lighter
- It’s very important to time your brew. If you go too long, it will taste bitter
- If the coffee is fresh, it should “bloom” once the water is added
When you have good, fresh coffee, you actually don’t need to add milk and sugar. The taste on its own is really good. Since we were on a food tour, we didn’t have a chance to hang out at the coffee shop, but it’s a really cool space and a perfect spot for a blogger like me to get work done. Lucky for me, they also have a location in Ottawa, so I will be back!
Hummingbird Chocolate Maker
Run by another husband and wife duo, this chocolate shop works directly with the cacao beans. Starting with beans coming from the Dominican Republic and Vietnam, they will grind them to become a paste at the shop, then add sugar, let the chocolate rest, and temper it for a glossy shine, before they finally put it in a mold and wrap it up. It’s also the first Canadian company to win the best bean to bar chocolate in the world!
Every Saturday they offer tours so you can actually see how the process works, and best of all, you get to do some chocolate sampling. What we learned about sampling is that you shouldn’t just put the chocolate in your mouth. Start out by smelling it, and then put it on your tongue to warm it up a bit and let it melt. This will help you uncover the different flavors of the chocolate which may have subtle notes of maple, a touch of heat, or maybe even some sea salt in it. I especially liked the Maple chocolate. This was another place where my mom and I bought some goodies to take home during our trip.
Crooked Mile Brewery
A fantastic spot to try some British-inspired craft beers. We started with a tour of the brewery and learned the process of making beer, which typically takes a total of 18-20 days. Then we got into the good part and sampled some of their products. They offer five flagship ales and typically two special seasonal ales every month. They also like to incorporate maple into their craft beers, where the ‘Lanark Maple Brown’ and ‘Seven Maple Farms APA’ have used fresh local maple and harvested hops.
We really liked that the brewery allows you to bring your own food in while tasting their ales so we paired our ales with some tasty pizza next door.
Other Maple Trail Experiences
There’s still plenty more maple experiences on Lanark County’s Maple Trail so you may also want to give some of these a try:
- Parkside Spa– Try the maple manicure and pedicure, or the maple sugar scrub.
- Tay River Aqua– A waterfront spa where you can relax in their pools before getting a maple sugar body scrub.
- Perth Brewery – Try the “Oh Canada Maple Ale”
- Sam Bat – Calling all baseball fans! At sam bat, you can get a baseball bat made from maple wood and get a tour of their facility.
- Also, check out this list made by locals on ’24 Things To Do In Lanark County’
Where to Eat in Lanark County
Located in a beautifully restored, stone heritage building, this was one of my favorite things to do in Perth Ontario. Chef Jamie Troutman has created an amazing 5-course Maple Flavours menu using the freshest seasonal, all-Canadian ingredients. His menu is also paired with Canadian wine and spirits for a fantastic dining experience.
Chef Troutman developed his menu by taking elements from artist’s paintings and interpreting them in his dishes.
The service was excellent and we loved that Chef Troutman actually came out to serve and explain his dish at the beginning of each course. The maple was deliciously integrated into each meal. I won’t ruin the surprise of telling you everything that’s included in this amazing five-course menu, but I will say that my favorite was the play on a cheese dish. It was a smoked-cheese wrapped in pastry with a maple, honey, lime syrup on top!
CC’s on the Rideau
We discovered this place as part of our cycling tour with Heritage Bikes. CC’s on the Rideau is located right beside Rideau Lake. It even has a dock where boats can park. It’s a fantastic spot, especially in the summer with Adirondack chairs on the outside patio.
Since it started raining by the time we got to CC’s, my mom and I sought refuge inside and warmed up with maple moonshine coffee which tastes as amazing as the name sounds. The service here is fantastic. Our waitress was very attentive and even the owner came by to say hi and check in on our meal. At CC’s, they love to incorporate maple into their menu so we tried two of the specials of the day: A cajun fish sandwich with a maple aioli; and Trout with a balsamic salad and maple mustard dressing. Both were delicious.
This is another restaurant located in Perth in a heritage building with decor that makes it feel like you’ve stepped into a local European tavern. They serve traditional European dishes like schnitzels, perogies, and goulash. As I was eating my way through the maple trail, I stopped to have the Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin.
Sunflower Bake Shop
A cozy bakery that makes all of its baked goods from scratch, with fresh, local ingredients. You will find over 10 different options for handcrafted bread, an assortment of cakes, muffins, and other baked goodies, including some great gluten-free options. They, of course, like to use the local maple which you can try with their maple sticky-bun for breakfast.
Don’s Meat Market
I recommend picking up some cheese and meat at this local Almonte shop and going to the nearby Blakeney Falls for a picnic along the river. You’ll find plenty of items to make your own charcuterie platter, or sausages and burgers to throw on a grill. Since we were on the hunt for maple, we tried the maple chipotle and maple bacon sausages which were great!
Mill Street Crepe Company
While mom and I didn’t get to try a maple crepe, they do serve hot crepes with Fulton’s maple syrup like the maple glazed pulled pork (sounds good, right?).
Other Great Eats on the Maple Trail
Try hard as we did, my mom and I just didn’t have the time and room to try all the maple goodies the area has to offer. So here are some other great spots on the Lanark County Maple Trail to try:
- Chesswood Restaraunt – Try the maple wrapped meatloaf or maple-bourbon BBQ bacon jam with some gooey brie cheese.
- Clyde Hall Historic Bed & Breakfast – A beautiful country estate located amongst a sugar maple forest. Try the slow-roasted maple bacon.
- Fiddlehead’s – Located in a historic woolen mill, go for Sunday brunch where you can try local maple on French toast.
- Wheelers Pancake House & Sugar Camp – They’ve been named one of the Top 10 maple experiences in Canada by Canadian Geographic. Located on 600 acres of maple forest, you can learn all about maple and have a fantastic breakfast here.
Where to Stay: Perth Ontario Hotels
A great place to base yourself on Lanark County’s Maple Trail is to stay in the beautiful town of Perth. Perth boasts 200 years of history and was originally a military settlement where a lot of Scottish an Irish Canadians can trace their roots. It’s very easy to explore the town by foot and see plenty of historic buildings.
We stayed at the Perth Parkside Inn & Spa which overlooks Stewart Park and Tay River. Amenities included a restaurant, Aveda Spa & Salon, fitness centre, Mineral Water Pool & Steam Room, free parking, and wifi. Our room had a fantastic balcony which overlooked the park. We also really enjoyed soaking in the pool and relaxing at the end of each day.
If you are looking for other accommodation options check out:
- Perth Manor Boutique Hotel – A quaint hotel built in 1878 for just 12,000 pounds!
- Almonte Riverside Inn – A heritage estate located on the (Canadian) Mississipi River
- Menzies House 1850 Bed & Breakfast – Located in the heart of beautiful Almonte
- Circa 1894 Bed, Breakfast, & Spa – A charming B&B located in Lanark Highlands
- Clyde Hall Bed & Breakfast – A luxurious countryside getaway located in Lanark Village
Overall, we loved visiting Lanark County as it was a welcome escape from Ottawa’s faster-paced city life. We had a fantastic time learning from local businesses about their passion for food and maple. And of course, the food was amazing! Being just a short drive away from my home in Ottawa, I’ll definitely be out on this Maple Trail again soon.
Where would your first stop be on Lanark County’s Maple Trail? Comment below!
A big thanks goes out Lanark County Tourism who sponsored my trip. As always, all opinions and travel tips are my own.
Still Want More?
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