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.

Aerial view of the 2018 McCloud Prairie Maze (credit: Corey Cook)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 guarantees a hopping good time.

Created by Hendricks County Parks & Recreation naturalist Jordan Tremper and mowed into the McCloud prairie by the department's maintenance crew, this grasshopper-themed maze is perfect for the entire family. Correctly navigating the giant grasshopper 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 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. 20 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 observable live honeybee habitat, 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. 1 through Oct. 31, 2018
  • HOURS:  Dawn to dusk daily
  • COST:  FREE! Leashed pets welcome.
  • WEBSITE:  Click here

The 2018 Corn Maze Design at Beasley's OrchardBeasley'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. 6-7 and Oct. 13-14 this year), Dog Daze at the Maze (Oct. 20-21), and new event called Halloweekend (Oct. 27-28). 

Additionally, Beasley's Corn Maze celebrates Indianapolis sports teams in 2018. 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. Send the kids into the Barnyard Bonanza family activity area, and fire some apple cannons! Make sure you try their award-winning apple cider while you're there, too. It's out of this world!

(Insider tip: To learn more about the new attractions at Beasley's Orchard this fall, click here.)

  • OPEN:  Sept. 21 through Oct. 31, 2018
  • HOURS:  1 to 6 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday; noon to 6 p.m., Sunday; 1 to 6 p.m. on Fall Break weekdays
  • COST:  $7/person; children ages 2 and younger are FREE!
  • WEBSITE:  Click here

Hogan Farms Corn Maze 2018Hogan Farms Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze

Up in Brownsburg, Hogan Farms Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze offers a huge corn maze that celebrates the United States of America.

Make your way through an American flag, the Liberty Bell, a baseball, and more patriotic challenges in this huge corn maze. 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.

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

  • OPEN:  Sept. 29 through Oct. 28, 2018
  • 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 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!