Jim and Mary (along with Jim’s brother and two other couples) originally bought 56 acres of land on Little Sugarbush Lake for use as recreational property. In 1973, they made the decision to move from Edina, MN, with their two children, Debbie and Jay, with the idea of making maple syrup, which they did for twelve years. At one time, Maplelag was one of the largest producers in Minnesota, producing over 400 gallons in one season. They ceased production in 1988, as the early sap runs conflicted with the ski season as some of the trails were used for both purposes.
Adjacent land parcels were purchased over the ensuing years, so now the majority of the ski and snowshoe trails are on land which is owned by Maplelag Resort, totaling close to 660 acres. Part of the trail system is also on state, county, or privately owned land which is either leased or through which there is an easement.
Lodging began in 1974, at the suggestion of another maple syrup producer who asked if he could bring a group of friends and rent the Sugarhouse. It seemed like a great way to supplement the sugaring income. Flyers were printed and another business was created! The following year the interior of two small log saunas, which had previously been moved to Maplelag, were renovated and were also rented. At this point, guests brought their own food and it was similar to winter camping. Now, Maplelag has grown considerably and can accommodate up to 200 guests in a variety of unique, yet comfortable, accommodations.
Maplelag started hosting the Concordia College Language Village programs in 1976. Russian, Swedish, Chinese, Finnish, French and Spanish Villages have all been hosted throughout the years. However, Spanish is the only language that has been on site since 1996. So, for eleven weeks in the summer, Maplelag is shut down as a cross country ski resort and conference center and the entire facility transforms into “El Lago Del Bosque”. We feel that having a dual purpose enriches both endeavors and we are constantly building and upgrading our facilities to meet the needs of both.
Jay, his wife Jonell and their three year old son, Jake, moved back to Maplelag in April of 1997. They had been working at Izaak Walton Inn which is located in Essex, MT. Their family has now grown to include sons Jon and Jack and the new additon Jens and the family dog, Lucky. They each have their own unique contribution to the operation of Maplelag. Their home is located across from the cabooses.