There Are No Dead Ends In The Corn Maze

I’ve always been fascinated by mazes. And the corn maze is my number one favorite. Far less predictable than a typical hedge maze, the corn maze changes each year, adapting its complex network of passages to the whims of its creator. The corn maze challenges us to draw upon the very best of our navigational skills to face the unexpected. Not unlike daily life, I’d say.


These days, I hear corn mazes are designed on the computer. Still, I like to envision the lone mower, seated high atop his tractor, cutting neat paths through the ribbons of rustling corn. In my mind’s eye, I watch the slender stems fall in advance of the blade, a matted path of dried husks pointing backwards in their wake. Stiff as soldiers, the surviving stalks interlock to form impenetrable lines, their withered silks shimmering in the bright autumn sun.

Assuming this one is computer-generated?

Since I get lost easily, I always arrive at the corn maze with some trepidation. Entering in, I brace myself for a series of ever increasing challenges. One pathway ends abruptly at a vegetal dead end, while another beckons me onwards to discover I’ve already covered this ground. My frustration mounts the deeper I go in.

And in no time at all, I realize I am engaged in a game of strategy with decaying walls of corn. The dried stalks cast shadows before me, while the limitless sky, co-conspirator in the game, provides no frame of reference. Am I up to the challenge? Will I make it through?  These are the questions that I ask myself as I stumble onwards.


Mazes call upon that part of the brain that helps us create a mental picture of where we have been. This function is critical to all problem solving. Strategies used to solve mazes involve 1) taking note of environmental cues, 2) improvising when necessary, and 3) most importantly, remaining flexible. (Some say the simple strategy of holding your hand to the wall on the left or the right side will eventually bring you back out, but I’ve yet to try.)  In my view, the corn maze is representative of life’s problems. It’s up to you to map your way through.

Pumpkin patch/Photo: Gus Garcia for

As I travel through life, it’s hard not to feel frustrated by the many dead ends, the carefully laid plans that fall through and the paths that take me in circles and then back out again. Yet, personal growth hinges on learning to surmount these obstacles, to replace old strategies with new, sometimes shifting the course in a whole new direction. The corn maze embodies this journey.

With this mindset, I cross the threshold each year to march bravely through the twists and turns. And, with a little luck, finally arrive at the center.

Interesting fun fact: Largest corn maze in the world is located in Dixon, California and is 45 acres.

Summers Farm Corn Maze 
5620 Butterfly Lane, Frederick, Maryland. (301) 620-9316

Crumland Farms Corn Maze 
7612 Willow Road, Frederick, Maryland. (301) 845-8099.

Corn Maze in the Plains
Old Tavern Rd., Just off I-66, Exit 31, The Plains, Virginia. (540) 456-7339.



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About carole funger

I'm a landscape designer and Maryland Master Gardener living in the Washington, DC area. I blog about new trends in horticulture, inspiring gardens to visit and the latest tips and ideas for how to nurture your own beautiful garden. Every garden tells a story. What's yours?