Corn mazes are ubiquitous around Long Island during the fall. While some are kid-friendly puzzles that can be solved in mere minutes, others are full-blown labyrinths than span up to 10 acres (figure the size of at least six football fields). Don't expect to make just a few turns to find your way to freedom. With these mazes, some of which can take an hour to conquer, you'll have to answer questions and solve riddles to escape.
INFO 631-726-4667, hankspumpkintown.com
ADMISSION $10 (includes access to two easier mazes)
DIFFICULTY Very hard
With a theme of Buy Fresh, Buy Local, the 7-acre maze is a daunting barnyard scene. A map is provided, but it did little for Jennifer Hovestadt, 40, of East Yaphank, and daughters Gabriella, 12, and Isabelle, 10, when they visited on Columbus Day.
"I think we got lost at the first left," says Hovestadt, who wandered for more than an hour with a map in one hand and her BlackBerry in the other.
There are five help stations in Hank's where you can email for assistance.
Ten-year-old Ani Gerlach of Centereach figured out the most useful clue on her own.
"I understood quickly that you have to turn the map when you make a turn to make it work. Every time we passed a station, I marked it with the crayon," says Ani, who was navigating for her mom, Sophia Gerlach, 45. "I just told Mom to relax, and I'd get us out alive."
And she did, exiting in a scorching 45 minutes.
Harbes Farm & Vineyard
1223 Main Rd. (Route 25), Jamesport
INFO 631-722-2022, harbesfamilyfarm.com
Harbes' 7-acre "Wild West" adventure maze is designed on the premise of helping the Lone Ranger find his missing items -- that takes 20 to 30 minutes. Then, you can either exit over a bridge that overlooks the entire maze or go in search of the Four Desperados, which takes at least another half-hour. But you won't have to go at it entirely alone.
"We have five people in the maze whose job is to further the story and offer assistance," says maze designer David Harbes.
Anthony Castro, 15, and siblings Natalia, 11, and Michael, 7, all of Glen Cove, weren't that interested in helping The Lone Ranger -- but they did learn one useful trick: People nearby aren't any wiser about solving the maze.
"We'd hear voices and try to find those people, thinking they were further along, and we'd just end up at a dead end and have to go back," Anthony says.
Christa Corelli, 22, of Mastic, goes to Harbes every year. "The characters help," she says. "We got out in about 45 minutes this time. Last year, it took us two hours."
633 Victory Rd./Horseblock Rd., Brookhaven
This 10-acre Funky Chicken Gang maze has visitors finding wooden chickens and answering riddles. "There's an exit?" says Marie Rupolo, 39, of East Patchogue, after coming back out through the entrance with sons Evan, 8; and Brett, 2.
Since it was Evan's first corn maze, the family decided to go back in and let him try to navigate. "I wanted to come because Mommy and Daddy thought I'd be afraid," says Evan with pride, after completing the maze is a respectable 30 minutes.
Gabrielsen's Country Plant Farm
1299 Main Rd. (Route 25), Jamesport
ADMISSION $8 (ages 10 and younger must be accompanied by a paying adult)
While it is unthemed, this maze is vast at 8 acres. There are numerous exits, but you can spend 30 minutes or longer in there if you don't take the easy way out.
Gia Paguanni, 10, of Howard Beach ventured into the maze with cousin Heather Paguanni, 12, of Woodhaven. They came back out in about 15 minutes.
"It was scary," Gia says. "There were people in there scaring each other, so we found the first exit."