LONDONDERRY — It's a fall favorite for families and those wanting to find a bit of seasonal adventure amidst rows and rows of cornstalks and paths.
It's also an agricultural art form heralding a continuance of seasonal warmth while blazing a trail toward the cooler days ahead.
When it comes to finding a fun fall activity, many families look no further than the local farm and its corn maze.
At Elwood Orchards on Elwood Road, the annual corn maze is a design of twists and turns leading around and through 15 acres of tall stalks and husks.
The Elwood family has run the farm since 1910, selling produce like apples, berries and other seasonal favorites.
Once fall arrives, families can then stop by the bucolic farm to choose the best pumpkins from a heaping pile, take a taste of a newly-picked apple or find just the right bumpy gourd to take home.
About 16 years ago, it was time to do something different at Elwood Orchards. A corn maze was added to give an extra boost to the local autumn season. The farm was already well known for its generations of working the land and offering fresh produce on the homegrown farm.
That led to the first field of corn that offered intricate designs and wandering foot paths.
The first maze was small, only about an acre of cornstalks to meander through.
Customers loved that early maze and the idea caught on in a big way with more and more field used as years passed, making the maze larger and larger.
In the spring, farm staff plant thousands and thousands of cow corn seeds to create the maze design
Once the seeds are planted, it's then time to create the official maze design on graph paper. The corn will typically then grow to about 10 feet.
Farm staff then go through the corn field to make sure unwanted corn leaves and stalks are removed so the maze paths can be cut.
David Leeds was helping out at Elwood one busy Sunday afternoon, keeping the crowds and groups in order until it was their turn to maneuver the maze.
"We have church groups, school groups, families," Leeds said. "Sometimes up to 30 or 40 people at a time."
Leeds said he went through the maze and it took about 24 minutes to get in and out.
"It was a lot of walking," he said.
And this year's maze is one acre larger than last year, just to try and make it different and a bit more challenging, Leeds added.
When farm closing time nears, a horn will sound to let any stragglers know it's time to exit.
Elwood's corn maze will be open during farm regular hours and nighttime hours are also available.
In Derry, J & F Farms also offers its own corn maze along with a lot of other seasonal activities and fun including a farm stand, petting area with horses, cows, and goats, and hayrides.
Crowds were also gathering this past weekend to take on the maze and then comparing times for how long it took to get through.
Families with small children, teens and older fans all meandered through the maze throughout the day.
"I made it out in about 20 minutes," said Christine Rogers of Windham. "I was shocked at how tall the corn is."
J & F is also a longstanding local farm, family-owned since 1906.
For information about Elwood Orchards call 603-434-6017. For information on J & F Farms, 124 Chester Road, call 603-437-0535.