While intricate paths made out of hedges date back centuries, the first recorded corn mazes are, amazingly, only from the early 1980s. Since then, they have become full-on fall tourist meccas that feature games, technology and other amusements integrated with the cornstalks. These four Milwaukee-area mazes are the cream of the crop.
OPENS SEPT. 16 | MEQUON
Trivia lovers, this one’s for you. Navigate the nearly 5 acres and answer trivia questions along the way. If you know your stuff, it might just help you escape more quickly. Answer wrong and you’ll find yourself at a dead end. Once you’re out, you can reward yourself with flavored popcorn or cider from the Snack Shack.
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OPENS SEPT. 17 | COLGATE
After you hit the over 65 fall activities at this farm’s Pumpkin Fest – like the tractor pull, animal barn and big swing – get lost in the two uniquely challenging mazes. The bigger one has trivia throughout, the smaller features a murder mystery game to play while you walk.
OPENS SEPT. 16 | NEW BERLIN
It may not have all the bells and whistles, but this maze does have a classic, simple charm. The random pattern provides a challenge of its own. After you make your way through, you can check out the Big Backyard playground, try pumpkin bowling and feed goats at the petting zoo.
OPENS SEPT. 23 | MUKWONAGO
With 14 acres and nearly 4 miles of paths, this maze can take up to 90 minutes to complete. For an extra challenge, you can compete against your family/friends to hit interactive checkpoints hidden throughout by connecting your phone. Afterward, brave the giant slide or take your shot with the corn cannon.
How does a corn maze get made? Brian Schuett of Schuett Farms gave us the skinny.
Before GPS technology, corn mazes were made by farmers manually measuring and staking out where the path would go, then trimming the field when the corn stalks were still fairly short. Now, farmers like Schuett put their designs into a software connected to the farm machinery that determines where the seeds will be sowed on the field, and it grows in the design’s pattern.
But before the field is planted, Schuett Farms’ maze starts as an idea. Schuett says his kids, brother, parents and other family members share ideas, then go with what’s popular that year. “This year, my kids are fairly young, so we decided that we were gonna do Super Mario Bros.,” he says. From an aerial view, you’ll be able to see beloved characters Mario and Luigi, as well as other features from the video game – all carefully designed and planted with their advanced agricultural technology.