A 10-acre corn maze is just the place to get lost this fall at Stony Hill Farms in Chester. On crisp days, families run through the network of winding paths. Surrounded by the stalks, a competition ensues: Who will locate the exit first?
To heighten the excitement, visitors can pick up a maze-adventure game sheet. While in the labyrinth, keep an eye out for various word and picture stations. It takes about 45 minutes to tackle the maze, but nearly two hours to both complete the worksheet and conquer the corn. Can’t find your way out? Maze masters can point you in the right direction.
“It’s not just a corn maze,” says farm manager Dana Davis. “There’s a learning element and a scavenger hunt.”
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This year, you can get lost in the maze through November 7. For those who want a more laid-back experience, a mini 1-acre maze is available. On flashlight nights, held most Saturdays in October, families attempt the maze in the dark.
This year’s corn-maze design celebrates the 100th anniversary of the American Orchid Society. The design is also a nod to Stony Hill’s origin story.
In 1988, Dale Davis III, and his wife, Carol, started Stony Hill Gardens, a greenhouse operation with an emphasis on cut orchids. Since then, the business has expanded to include a large collection of flowers, herbs and produce. Stony Hill’s greenhouses, just a six-minute drive from the farm, are open to visitors.
These days, Dale and Carol’s three children, Dale IV, Brandt and Kaitlyn, as well as daughter-in-law Dana, all work for the family business.
Dale IV, Dana’s husband, is the man behind the maze. In late June, the corn is planted. Several weeks later, bridges are installed while the corn is short, and walkways are flagged off according to the design. The stalks grow until Labor Day weekend. Paths are created by hand, which takes seven people about two days.
When visitors need a break from navigating the maze, the bridges are welcome resting spots among the mind-boggling lanes. Peering over the tops of the stalks, guests can soak in breathtaking views of the foliage along the perimeter of the 30-acre property.
Last year, Michelle Laauwe of Oakland and her daughter took on the maze together. “We got lost a couple of times, but we managed to find our way out,” says Laauwe.
Moving away from the maze, there are family-friendly games and competitions galore. Race on a tricycle around a dirt track. Challenge family members to the life-size Barnyard Board Game.
Operate a hand-powered water pump to make your rubber ducky swim to the finish line. At the gemstone mining station, wash away the dirt to reveal treasures. Kids can climb the Noah’s Ark jungle gym or test their skills on the rope maze. Admission tickets to the farm range from $10.99 to $20.99 and can be purchased at stonyhillfarms.com.
For an added dose of classic Garden State fall fun, pick your own apples in the orchard or hop on a hayride to the pumpkin patch.
When your stomach begins to rumble, stop by the concession stand or peruse the market filled with produce and baked goods. Cider doughnuts, roasted sweet corn, homemade ice cream and more are all produced by Stony Hill or other local businesses.
As the day winds down, enjoy your treats at a picnic table. Then, snap a couple of photos near the oversized Adirondack chairs or the old red truck as you reflect on a fall day well spent.
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