As viewed from above, some corn mazes are complicated labyrinths of intricate, themed designs. Whether they’re looking for a challenge or just an autumn atmosphere, enthusiasts of all ages are attracted to corn mazes.
Add other activities — hayrides, pumpkin picking, campfires, and farm-themed playgrounds — and the result is autumn entertainment that many embrace as an annual tradition.
With cornfields covering over 13% (3.5 million acres) of Ohio land area, it’s only natural that corn mazes proliferate around the state; a quick online search found more than 100, so there’s sure to be one near you. We visited a few for a behind-the-scenes look.
McPeek’s Mighty Maze and Fall Festival
Located at the Coshocton KOA Holiday in Coshocton, the Mighty Maze is a part of the fall festival held by Ryan and Camille McPeek. Employee Amy Hamilton says they plant the corn like normal, and the maze is cut with a tractor and a GPS device.
Do mazers ever get lost?
“Some do need help,” she says, noting that guides are always available. Before closing each evening, employees sweep through the maze, looking for stragglers.
“We leave no man behind,” Hamilton jokes.
She says the maze can be navigated in 10 minutes or two hours, depending on one’s sense of direction and desire to stay lost.
On designated nights, adults can sample beer and wine from Ohio breweries and wineries at stations inside the maze. Flashlight nights are for intrepid souls who enjoy navigating a maze in the dark.
Other activities at McPeek’s include live music, food trucks, pumpkin painting, wagon rides, and trick-or-treat on October Saturdays — but the Mighty Maze is mighty popular. Hamilton says on their busiest day last year, over 1,000 people ventured through the corn.
McPeek’s Mighty Maze at Coshocton KOA, 24688 County Road 10, Coshocton, OH 43812. Open noon–9 p.m. daily through Oct. 30. 740-502-9245,
Lynd Fruit Farm
Amy Pausch, the “director of laughs and smiles” at Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala, designs each year’s corn maze in the spring, a project that takes about two weeks. Her finished design is programmed into a GPS device, and the maze is planted, not cut, into the field.
Pausch’s 2022 design, The Toga Maze, observed from a lookout tower in late July, was knee-high-ish. Mazes are planted much later than farmers plant corn crops, Pausch says, because a corn maze should be green, not harvest-ready.
Each maze includes a child-friendly “mini-maze” in one corner — this year’s corner is Gnomesville. Pausch’s past designs include patriotic themes, Jurassic Park, Journey to Oz, and Middle-earth. Visitors can participate in a scavenger hunt while they explore.
“We just want to keep it unique, so people have a reason to come back,” Pausch says.
Other activities include wagon and barrel train rides, a farm-themed playground, and individual campfires. Employees provide the wood, light the fire, and ensure no sparks remain at the end of the evening.
“We do get a little spooky at night,” Pausch says. “Doing the maze in the dark is very different from daytime.”
Guests who prefer to explore the corn-walled bowers at leisure may follow the “cheat line” and stroll smoothly from entrance to exit. As many as 1,000 people go through the maze each day. Pausch said the 2021 season’s total visitor count was 22,000.
During Extraordinary Days, people with autism and other disabilities can navigate the mini-maze, accompanied by trained employees, and enjoy the other activities, which are adapted as necessary.
Lynd Fruit Farm, 9851 Morse Road SW, Pataskala, OH 43062. Open 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sundays through
Oct. 30. 740-927-8559, www.lyndfruitfarm.com
Susan and James McDonald of McDonald’s Greenhouse in Zanesville created their first corn maze 17 years ago.
The maze, Susan McDonald says, was a natural progression, given their business of growing chrysanthemums and pumpkins. In other words, the McDonalds already had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.
What’s more, James McDonald’s father called himself “Old McDonald,” and after he died, his son assumed the title.
Using pencil and graph paper, Susan designed their first maze, a jack-o-lantern. “We had no idea what we were doing, and we were broke,” she says. The next year, the maze was a John Deere tractor, chosen, Susan says, because the corn was green. The third year, they created Noah’s Ark. That season kicked them into another level, corn maze-wise, Susan says. Now they welcome 10,000 to 12,000 visitors each year.
Each maze takes about 20 minutes to navigate, though many will intentionally extend that a bit. “You don’t really get lost,” Susan says. Road traffic and the barn help orient guests, and roving helpers rescue any anxious mazers.
This year’s maze design is the Three Billy Goats Gruff, because one of the McDonalds’ two sons raises goats. “Baby goats are the cutest things ever,” Susan says.
She stressed that her family’s fall festival isn’t scary. “Nothing haunted,” she says. Activities include a basketball grain wagon, backyard Twister, a bounce pad, child-size tractors, and doughnuts.
McDonald’s Greenhouse, 3220 Adamsville Road, Zanesville, OH 43701. Open 9:30 a.m.–7 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Saturdays; and noon–6 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 31. 740-819-5814, www.mcdonaldsgreenhouse.com