Maze Field Trips
Originally published in TEACH Magazine, September/October 2023 Issue
Pathways winding through rows of sun-baked bales. The sound of hurried footsteps darting this way and that. The twists and turns that keep you guessing. That’s right, it’s maze season! And we’re about to let you in on some of the most exciting places to get lost amongst the hay. But they provide more than just fun too. Behind every maze is a story—one that celebrates farming and harvest time. Pair your class’ visit with a book, video, or other resource, and you’ve got yourself a perfect topic for a fall unit study. Here are some great places to have an a-maze-ing adventure.
Arata’s Pumpkin Farm
Half Moon Bay, CA
For more than 90 years, Arata’s Farm has earned a reputation for its pumpkins, but their biggest attraction may be their world-famous hay maze, called the “Minotaur’s Labyrinth.” Built out of 10,000 bales of hay, the 2-acre labyrinth is an exhilarating test of wits and patience, with a team of maze architects designing a new puzzle each year. Be sure to take advantage of the full school package that also includes a petting zoo, hayride, train ride, and pumpkin patch visit.
Bozeman’s iconic straw maze is no joke: constructed with over 5,000 square bales, this monolithic trail never ceases to amaze visitors looking for a challenge. The maze changes up its elaborate layout each time; previous years’ themes have seen replicas of a UFO, a 3D stagecoach, and a pitchfork-wielding scarecrow. If you get stuck, don’t fret—there’s a watch tower with a guide who can assist. And if you’re looking for more fun, there’s also a mini train, bungee trampoline, corn bins, and courtyard games.
Brown Ranch Hay Maze
Brown Ranch takes the prize for the largest hay maze in Oklahoma. Spanning a whopping 1 acre, this maze will put your instincts to work as you weave through over 1.5 million pounds of rolled hay. Ranch owner Larry Brown also takes the time to educate students all about hay and what it means for farm animals. You’ll find over twenty additional ranch activities as well, like cowboy basketball, giddy-up gliders, a three-storey hay castle, and so much more.
Burley Straw Maze
As its name suggests, this intricate maze is the main attraction at Burley’s annual fall fest. Built with over 1,200 bales of straw stacked 8 feet high and 4 feet thick, the tricky meander is no easy feat and travelling through it takes anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. The entire event is held outdoors and there are tons of other activities to explore, including a giant slide, jump pad, 100-foot zip line, barrel train, and more.
Halton Hills, ON
It’s apple time at Chudleigh’s Farm, and with it comes good ol’ fashioned country fun. Perfect for the younger visitors, the orchard’s huge hay maze is a much-loved rite of passage where kids can make their way in between hay bales or even walk on top and hop from bale to bale! With an impressive collection of 47,500 apple trees here, apple picking is something you surely won’t want to miss. School groups can also enjoy limitless access to tractor rides, farm animals, a play area, and a nature trail.
Dutch Growers Garden Centre
Dutch Growers has once again flipped its greenhouse into its very own indoor hay maze. Come rain or shine, kids can delight in a trek stretching over 1,000 square feet of straw bales with a bounty of pumpkins scattered throughout the course. To add to the excitement, there are colouring activities, as well as a scavenger hunt hidden throughout the maze. Best of all, it’s completely free.