That's the official weekend, but skiers and snowboarders en route to and from the state's resorts shouldn't wait to visit sugar houses at work across the region from mid-February to mid-April.

Maple sugaring is a tradition in New England, passed down across generations, involving care, foresight, labor, and an appreciation for the taste of a regional delicacy.

Kim Moore, who has tackled the task of spreading the word about New Hampshire's sweetest industry, says the state's sugar houses produce 90,000 gallons of syrup each year.

The timing of operations depends on weather conditions each year. Cold nights and warm days make the sap run, but too much of either can throw off the cycle. Each gallon of syrup takes 40 gallons (or so) or maple sap. Some farms use buckets hung on taps; some have gone to more modern plastic tubing that drains sap and collects it in roadside containers. Some producers continue to use wood-burning evaporators; others have converted to more modern methods, but the taste of the syrup that results remains as sweet.

More than 50 sugar houses across the state open their doors to visitors offering tours of the maple orchards and sugar houses filled with steam from evaporators turning sap into syrup.

The state's maple producers have a listing of sugar houses, and a Maple Hotline 603-225-3757 for up-to-the-minute reports on sap flow and related events.

Sugar houses, maple farms, and New Hampshire inns and B&Bs offer tours, lodging packages and maple products, with details available on the maple producers Web site, and at the State of New Hampshire tourism Web site.