Are you considering visiting Hendricks County, Indiana, 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.

McCloud Prairie MazeThe 2020 McCloud Prairie Maze celebrates the snake!

The McCloud Prairie Maze opens officially opens on Saturday, Sept. 5, at McCloud Nature Park, just outside of North Salem, and this year's theme guarantees a good time. But you wanna know a secret? It's already open!

Designed by Hendricks County Parks & Recreation naturalist Jordan Tremper and mowed into the McCloud prairie (a week early!) by the department's Park Manager, Jim Holtsclaw, this year's snake-themed maze is perfect for the entire family. Correctly navigating the giant reptile will result in a walk of about a half-mile in length.

McCloud Nature Park and its Prairie Maze is open daily from dawn to dusk, and admission to both is absolutely 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. 17 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 huge wetland observation deck, 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. 5 through Oct. 31, 2020
  • HOURS:  Dawn to dusk daily
  • COST:  FREE! Leashed pets welcome.
  • WEBSITE:  Click here

Beasley's Corn MazeBeasley's Orchard tips their hat to front line healthcare workers in 2020.

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. 3-4 and Oct. 10-11 this year) and Dog Daze at the Maze (Oct. 17-18). 

This year's Beasley's Corn Maze design pays homage to all of the healthcare workers who have had one heck of a year in 2020.

Beasley's Orchard is offering FREE Combo Pass admission for all healthcare workers, whether you're from Hendricks Regional Health, IU Health or out of town. Healthcare workers will also enjoy a 50% off Combo Pass admission for their immediate family members throughout the entire fall season! 

This is a healthcare appreciation effort to allow the dedicated front-line workers the opportunity to enjoy a day with their families and to find some sense of normalcy during this difficult year.

This 8-acre maze takes most people about an hour to navigate, and rubber boots are recommended, especially if it has rained recently.

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 market. Make sure you try their award-winning apple cider while you're there, and their new hard cider, too. It's out of this world!

  • OPEN:  Sept. 19 through Nov. 1, 2020
  • HOURS:  9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays; noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays
  • COST:  $7/person; children ages 2 and younger are FREE!
  • WEBSITE:  Click here

Hogan Farms Pumpkin Patch & Corn MazThe Hogan Farm corn maze encourages everyone to get out and vote in 2020.e

Up in Brownsburg, Hogan Farms Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze offers a huge corn maze annually.

The folks at Hogan Farms want people to get out and vote in 2020 -- so much so that they created their corn maze this year to highlight that request!

But before you go to the polls in November to cast your vote, be sure to stretch your legs at Hogan Farms on any weekend in October.

Their pumpkin patch will also be open as you prepare for Halloween, and Hogan Farms is hosting a farmers' market every weekend with several different vendors.

(Insider tip: Learn more about Hogan Farms by clicking here.)

  • OPEN:  Oct. 3 through Nov. 1, 2020
  • HOURS:  10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays
  • COST:  $8/person; credit cards accepted
  • FACEBOOK:  Click here

Preparing for MazesPrairie Maze walk

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 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!