Finding Virginia’s sweet spot: Highland County leaders launch Maple Syrup Trail

‘When people come here, you...see the unspoiled beauty of our mountains’

HIGHLAND COUNTY, Va. – Different parts of Virginia are known for the products they produce.

Many flock to Charlottesville for the wine trail, while Nelson County launched a beer trail about ten years ago, and now Highland County leaders have created a Maple Syrup Trail.

Highland County leaders hope you’ll tap into Virginia’s sweet spot.

“We’re typically considered the southern capital of maple syrup,” said Chris Swecker, executive director of Highland County Chamber of Commerce.

Every spring, sugar water is harvested out of the trees. Locals, like Glenn Heatwoll, transform that water into rich maple syrup.

Selling his maple syrup in his country store is Heatwoll’s livelihood.

However, many syrup producers do not have a storefront and depend on the annual Maple Festival to make it through the year.

“We obviously weren’t able to have our Maple Festival in March and everyone still is going to take a long time to recover from that” said Swecker.

The COVID-19 cancellation only emphasized the need for year-round promotion and visitation like the Maple Syrup Trail.

“One of the syrup producers brought it to us to try this. You know, there’s craft brewery, there’s those type of trails, and why not apply it here?” said Swecker.

There are eight stops on the Maple Syrup Trail and once you complete a tour you get your passport stamped.

“We are giving people the opportunity to bring their families and to see how maple syrup is made,” said Heatwoll.

The trail just officially launched in September, but Heatwoll says feedback is already sweet.

“When people come here, you kind of see the unspoiled beauty of our mountains,” said Swecker.

You may visit Highland County to taste the maple syrup, but you’ll certainly see the beauty that surrounds.

You do have to call and schedule your visit with the syrup producers in advance, because they are working farms.

About the Author

After working and going to school in Central Virginia for over five years, Lindsey’s made her way back home to the mountains.