Are you considering visiting Hendricks County this fall?

Get lost.

You read that correctly. Get lost...with your entire family in any or all of the fun and challenging mazes that Hendricks County has to offer during the autumn season! Let's take a look at what's out there to hone your navigational skills.

Can you find your way through the heron at the 2017 McCloud Prairie Maze?McCloud Prairie Maze

The McCloud Prairie Maze opened over Labor Day weekend at McCloud Nature Park, just outside of North Salem, and this year's theme focuses on one of the park's inhabitants, the heron.

It's not uncommon to see herons at McCloud Nature Park and throughout Hendricks County, so Hendricks County Parks & Recreation is celebrating these majestic birds this year in their annual maze. Correctly navigating the giant heron will result in a walk of about a half-mile in length.

McCloud Nature Park and its Prairie Maze open daily from dawn to dusk, and entrance to both remains free. You can find maps to the maze inside kiosks located at the front of the Nature Center and at the entrance to the maze.

(Insider tip: If you only have one fall weekend free, I recommend checking out the McCloud Prairie Maze on Saturday, Oct. 21 during the Fall Colors Festival. The autumn foliage at McCloud is spectacular, and the Fall Colors Festival provides a ton of fun for the whole family. The Prairie Maze will host a scavenger hunt during the Fall Colors Festival, so you'll have the opportunity to scour every corner of the maze! More on that festival in a future blog post, but for now, mark it on your calendar.)

While you're out at McCloud for the Prairie Maze, be sure to check out the new observable live honeybee habitat, the 100-year-old historic truss bridge, the interactive exhibits within the Nature Center, the soothing Big Walnut Creek, 6.5 miles of trails and much more.

  • OPEN:  Sept. 2 through Oct. 31, 2017
  • HOURS:  Dawn to dusk daily
  • COST:  FREE! Leashed pets welcome.
  • WEBSITE:  Click here

Kevin, Bob, and Stuart await you at this year's Beasley's Orchard corn maze.Beasley's Corn Maze

Beasley's Orchard in Danville remains a fun, educational and entertaining place to visit any time of the year, but particularly during autumn, Every year, they host the hugely popular Heartland Apple Festival (Oct. 7-8 and Oct. 14-15 this year), a Hometown Heroes weekend (Oct. 21-22) and Dog Daze at the Maze (Oct. 28-29). 

Additionally, beginning Sept. 22, Beasley's Orchard will be home to a bunch of Minions. Oh yes, Stuart, Kevin, Bob are the stars of this year's Beasley's Corn Maze, which spans 8 acres. Will you be able to find your way out or will you need Gru to lead you?

(Insider tip: About a quarter-mile west of Beasley's Orchard, Old 36 is completely closed while construction crews install a roundabout at the intersection of County Road 200 East. If you're approaching Beasley's from the west through Danville, continue east toward Avon on U.S. 36 past the Kroger shopping center in Danville. Once you pass through the traffic signal at Wal-Mart, you'll be looking for County Road 300 East. Turn left (north) on County Road 300 East, and it will connect you with Old 36. Turn left (west) onto Old 36, driving around the construction barricades, and you'll be at Beasley's in about a half-mile.)

As long as you're out there for the corn maze, you might as well pick up some pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, and get some fresh fruits and vegetables from inside the historic barn. Make sure you try their apple cider while you're there, too. It's out of this world!

  • OPEN:  Sept. 22 through Oct. 31, 2017
  • HOURS:  1 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday; noon to 6 p.m., Sunday
  • COST:  $7/person; children ages 2 and younger are FREE!
  • WEBSITE:  Click here

Hogan Farms Corn Maze is full of family fun!Hogan Farms Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze

Up in Brownsburg, Hogan Farms Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze offers a huge corn maze that challenges families while also encouraging the fight against cancer.

The maze boasts several Cancer Awareness ribbons and a #fightcancer hashtag. The Hogan Farms maze opens on Sept. 23 and is available to experience daily on Tuesdays through Sundays. Upon your arrival, you'll be provided a map and a link to play Corn Maze Trivia as you navigate the maze. And as Halloween approaches, Hogan Farms has been known to make its maze haunted. You'll want to check their website for those dates as the time approaches.

(Insider tip: During the month of October, visitors to the Hogan Farms maze can also enjoy a pumpkin patch, a kids' zone and a petting zoo! Hay rides are available on the weekends, too.)

  • OPEN:  Sept. 23 through Oct. 31, 2017
  • HOURS:  2 to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday; closed on Mondays
  • COST:  $8/person; credit cards accepted
  • WEBSITE:  Click here

These folks have the right idea -- closed-toe shoes and hats in mazes.Preparing for Mazes

I work for Hendricks County Parks & Recreation, and every year, our Park Naturalists help patch up bare feet that were poked by cut and dried plant stalks in the McCloud Prairie Maze. We have found abandoned high heels stuck in the mud within the maze, and I'm a dad whose kids have complained of thirst, heat and/or cold in the middle of a maze.

So allow me to provide these tips as you prepare to tackle the mazes of Hendricks County this fall, based on my experience.

  • Dress for the weather. All three of these mazes are outdoor attractions and can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or two to traverse, depending on your family's navigational skills and travel speed. Layers work well, so you can add or remove clothing as your body temperature fluctuates during your walk. Make sure to have rain gear handy if the forecast calls for precipitation.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes. While flip-flops and sandals are comfy for summers in the back yard, you need to leave them at home to enjoy these mazes. Improper footwear invites your toes and feet to get stuck by dried plant stalks, sticks or anything else that may lie on the trails. I wouldn't recommend brand-new white sneakers either, especially after a recent rain. Wear boots or knock-around tennis shoes that you don't mind getting dirty or even muddy.
  • Bring water. As I mentioned above, it takes awhile to get through a maze. You will walk and get warm. You or your kids also will get thirsty. Bring water. If you're bringing your leashed pets to McCloud Nature Park or to Beasley's Orchard during Dog Daze at the Maze, bring water for Fido and Spot, too. We have a new water station outside the Nature Center, near the entrance to the McCloud Prairie Maze, that includes a doggie drinking fountain, but it's still a good idea to bring your own water to the park and then top off at the water station throughout the day.
  • Apply sunscreen. Take it from someone who has emerged on the other side of a corn maze as a lobster in the past: sunscreen is your friend. For those with short, thinning or no hair up top, hats are a good idea, too, lest you wind up with a burnt noggin. Again, learn from my past mistakes.
  • Bring insect repellent. Insects live outdoors. Don't get carried off by a swarm of mosquitoes because you were caught unprepared. Bring insect repellent.
  • Check websites before you go. You don't want to miss out on other activities that each of these facilities offers in addition to their mazes!

Have fun, and feel free to comment below to let us know what your favorite Hendricks County maze is and any tips I may have missed!