Nothing says fall like hayrides, pumpkin patches and getting turned around in a cornfield with your friends and family. Oregon farmers have spent months strategically plotting out designs and then cutting stalks in their fields to form giant mazes full of fun twists and turns, and now they’re ready for you. Some mazes are big, some are little and some you can explore at night. All of them are guaranteed to bring the laughs.
Hurry, though, because these autumn attractions are as fleeting as the geese. Here are four fun mazes from around the state.
Get Lost in a Gorge Orchard
Packer Orchards is a fourth-generation family farm known for its U-pick apples and pies, located 6 miles south of downtown Hood River. “We’re the only corn maze here in the Hood River area — the Columbia Gorge, actually,” says co-owner Tammi Packer. “So we keep it pretty kid-friendly.”
The maze itself is only about 3 acres, one of the smaller ones in the state, but don’t underestimate it. “People say all the time, ‘We got so lost!’” Packer says. It’s generally open from mid-September through October.
When you do finally emerge, kids will love the hay tower to climb up, hay slide to head down, and a corn pit — filled 18 inches deep with kernels — to jump in. You can also try your hand at pumpkin bowling or making a candy apple.
If you want to crank up the spookiness, time your visit with one of the local high school football team’s three home games. That’s when the maze stays open at night. (Check the orchards’ fall festival web page for dates.) Bring a flashlight for the family-friendly Flashlight Corn Mazes and be prepared to scream in the stalks at the Haunted Corn Maze.
“All night long we hear people screaming,” Packer says, laughing.
Mazes and Hayrides Near Coos Bay
If you head inland from Coos Bay like you’re driving to Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area, you’ll go right past Mahaffy Ranch, an idyllic 100-acre working farm on the banks of the Millicoma River. Every fall the family’s oldest child, Ben, heads out with his three siblings to transform about 2 acres of corn into a maze.
“It’s beautiful,” says Shawna Mahaffy, the farm’s matriarch. “The corn will get 9 feet tall.”
There’s a special, toddler-friendly maze, too, typically made from hay. Finish either and you can while away the daylight blasting corn out of a corn cannon, petting goats or taking a pony ride. Pile onto a trailer covered with hay and get pulled behind a tractor for a classic hayride that lasts anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, too. Every weekend until Halloween, other activities will be happening on the farm as well, like live music or a workshop on, say, how to arrange flowers in pumpkins.
“People come back because it is so beautiful here,” Mahaffy says. “It’s just a field in a private valley showcasing our farm, our rustic barn and the beautiful red maples we’ve planted.”
Massive Labyrinth Near Grants Pass
Just west of Grants Pass, near where the Vannoy Creek flows into the Rogue River, you’ll enter the autumnal world of Fort Vannoy, a farm where the Crouse family has been working ancient river-bottom soil for half a century. This family loves traditions, especially in the month of October when their giant corn maze hits its prime.
The maze, usually open daily until the last weekend of October, covers about 8 acres, and the corn here can get so high — about 12 feet — that the farmers will start mapping the maze and cutting it out as early as July. Leading up to Halloween, you can add some fright to the experience and sign up for the “haunted” version. Ghoulish jump scares, anyone?
Round out your visit by letting the kids take a ride on the mini cow train or wandering through another 8 acres of pumpkin patch to find the perfect carver or warty goblin. Face paintings and horse-drawn hayrides make it a day.
A Field of Art in the Willamette Valley
There are corn mazes and then there are corn mazes that are works of art. The Bose Family Farm falls solidly in the latter.
The farm sits east of Albany near the South Santiam River, and each year in October the family transforms about 8 acres of corn stalks into an elaborate network of curved walls and confusing corners that can keep you scratching your head. To get a sense of the whole masterpiece, check out the drone photos taken by farm staff and posted on social media — wow.
“Last year we made it look like a wolf we called the Big Bad Wolf,” says Heather Bose. This year? “It’s kind of an angry pig.”
The maze, one of the largest in the state, can take about 45 minutes to complete. Take your time and find six scarecrows hidden in the maze, and you can enter to win half of a hog. Once out, you have about 35 kinds of pumpkins to browse for the perfect jack-o’-lantern — and no shortage of winter squash for a warming family meal.