Corn maze pro tips: How to avoid calling 911

October 13, 2011

(Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

But this is one of those situations where reality is stranger than fiction. Police in Danvers, Mass., responded Monday afternoon to a frantic woman lost in the maze with her husband, child and 3-week-old baby. It took a K-9 unit seven minutes to find the wayward family.

As Halloween approaches and the fall season drags on, we thought we’d round up some tips on how to master the art of the corn maze without ever involving the authorities.

Take it from a professional: Go to a maze with watchtowers. Purdue University agronomy professor Bob Nielsen, who operates KingCorn.org, isn’t familiar with this particular story but said getting lost in corn mazes is common.

”If the maze is large and well-designed,” Nielsen said, “it’s pretty easy to get lost. But I would think in most cases [being stuck for hours] would be pretty tough.”

Nielsen recommends visiting a maze with watchtowers around the property, or one that provides ways for lost visitors to notify corn maze authorities, such as by handing out flags on sticks.

Instead of using it to dial 911, consider using your phone’s GPS to point your way out of the maze. Crafty visitors to the Hedge Maze at Longleat Seat in England use Google Earth to pinpoint their exact location and find their way out of a labyrinth of more than two miles.

Build your own. You’d never get lost. Some literature: “Agritourism: A Beginner’s Guide.” Read up on how they’re designed first.

Avoid embarrassment by opting for the hayride instead. Some local options: Crumland Farms in Frederick, Md., River Valley Ranch in Manchester, Md., or Leesburg Animal Park in Leesburg, Va. (Going Out Guide has a complete list.)

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