The corn maze ranks among favorite fall activities in Vermont for young and old, whether you're hoping to get lost for a few hours or to make it through in record time. With fun designs, lots of twists and turns, and sometimes a few frights (we'll get to that later), corn mazes are a great way to get out and enjoy the crisp autumn air in Vermont. Many Vermont corn mazes offer more than just the "maize", and you can expect to find a lot of extra things to do with the kids.
At Gaines Farm in Guilford, Vermont, after making it through the maze, visitors can ride a "cow train," nosh on favorite fall foods, play pumpkin bowling and visit goats, pigs, rabbits and chickens in the barn. For older maze-goers, the ghosts and ghouls from Gaines Farm's "horrifying" 230-year history rise up for a haunted hayride and haunted maze in October (see tip #5).
Since you only want to get temporarily lost in a labyrinth of stalks, here are a few helpful tips for successfully solving a corn maze:
1. Take a look at the map to get an idea of the shape of the corn maze. Even if you don't use the map to navigate, studying it before hand will help you know which general direction to go in. Plus, figuring out the first few turns will help ward off early corn-maze-vexation.
2. Look for landmarks at the edges of the maze. Trees, telephone poles, buildings, even road noise can help you bear in the right direction -- find them before heading into the maze. At the Kettle Farms corn maze in Hoosick Falls, NY, a broad tree line on one side of the maze will help you keep your bearings.
3. Want to do it the easy way? Keep the map out (if you have one) and track your progress through the labyrinth. For more of a challenge, stash the map in a pocket. Gaines Farm hides clues in the maze for a quick hint, or you can choose to rely on a sense of direction and trial-and-error -- if you dare.
4. Track where you've gone. When the walls are made out of corn, well, they start to look the same pretty quickly. Look for landmarks, like broken stalks, ones that grew crooked, fallen ears or even trees in the distance.
5. If you go for a fright in a haunted maze at Gaines Farm, make sure to pack your typical monster defenses: garlic, a tennis ball or squeaky toy to distract the werewolves, and good running shoes if all else fails.
6. If all else fails, and you're really, really lost, put your left hand on the left wall and keep walking -- eventually, you'll get out.
Unlike the exit to a corn maze, it's not hard to find a comfortable and convenient fall vacation home rental close to the famous Vermont fall foliage, food and festivals.