Getting Lost in a Corn Maze is Awesome

Ever since I discovered the Vermont Corn Maze one autumn day many years ago, I’ve been looking around for a solid corn maze to venture into in the Toronto area.  Having experienced the poor excuse for a corn maze (i.e. too tiny) and the 5 to 10 acre ones, I sought out something really substantial and then I came across Hanes Corn Maze, which was 20 acres!

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Ever since I discovered the Vermont Corn Maze one autumn day many years ago, I’ve been looking around for a solid corn maze to venture into in the Toronto area.  Having experienced the poor excuse for a corn maze (i.e. too tiny) and the 5 to 10 acre ones, I sought out something really substantial and then I came across Hanes Corn Maze, which was 20 acres!

Eventually, I rounded up enough friends who dared to step into the maze with me just before the last week of October.  They weren’t really willing to tackle it at night so it was just a day trip that started off with picking up everyone along the way.

We had arrived around 11 or so in the morning and it was exciting just to drive up to the lot.  My friends were already gushing from seeing the giant wall of corn in front of us.  To walk the corn maze and visit the farm animals cost us about $11.50 (CDN) per person which wasn’t bad at all.

Getting ready to enter the unknown...in the corn...
Getting ready to enter the unknown…in the corn…

As we paid to get into the maze, we were given a clipboard with a map.  I had not realized it but there was a scavenger hunt with a puzzle to solve.  It would make sense considering I could simply walk out of the maze pretty easily.

The gist of the scavenger hunt is this:

On the map of the corn maze, there are fields under the checkpoints where a participant has to jot down a code.  Each code is revealed if you can locate the checkpoint.  Once you collect all the codes — you exit the maze and try and solve the puzzle.

The tricky part is that not all the checkpoints are revealed on the map.  Some are hidden away!

Every so often, there'd be a lookout point amidst the maze.
Every so often, there’d be a lookout point amidst the maze.
Just when you think it might be possible to cheat, here's the view from the lookout point. [photo credit: Lisa Sit]
Just when you think it might be possible to cheat, here’s the view from the lookout point. [photo credit: Lisa Sit]

I have to say that the scavenger hunt was a lot tougher than I anticipated. A couple of my friends were beginning to give up because we were circling around trying to find the right checkpoints butkept encountering the ones we had already found.  Using the map was actually making it confusing at times because of where we thought we were in the corn maze.

Eventually we began using the very edge of the corn maze as reference points and made it out — to some degree.  There were a lot of families, teenagers, and kids who approached us about trading checkpoint codes, some were in the maze for 2 or 3 hours!  I’ll leave that to your discretion. We only spent 1 and 1/2 hours thanks to our willingness to exchange a couple of codes.

Successfully exiting the maze! [photo credit: Lisa Sit]
Successfully exiting the maze! [photo credit: Lisa Sit]

After the maze, we were able to solve the puzzle and claim a small prize.  Nothing major but it was nevertheless fun to achieve.  Our eyes were however, trained on the bakery.  It was a very small space and there were so many people lining up to pick up a pie or some other sweet goodies.  I picked up a nice apple pie myself and a chocolate overload square (which was amazing).

Dropping by the Tiny Shop Bakery. Full of pies, cookies, and squares of all sorts. Way too many choices!
Dropping by the Tiny Shop Bakery. Full of pies, cookies, and squares of all sorts. Way too many choices!

This was only part of the day’s adventure!  Hanes Corn Maze is quite close to the Spencer Gorge Wilderness area where there are a couple of nice waterfalls and we eventually satisfied our hunger at the Thirsty Cactus, a local pub and grill in the town of Dundas.

 

Bruce Trail 9 – Scenic Drive to Sydenham Road

This part of the trail that passes through Hamilton is quite interesting because it weaves its way through a number of conservation areas in the city.  This meant that the trails were often quite wide and very well developed — some of which were even accommodating to horses and mountain bikes.

The previous section of the trail was a tad dry (lots of straight paved paths) so I was hoping that this section would be a little more exciting. Thankfully, it was an excellent section to hike through.  The timing was impeccable as there were many surprises along the way that made the whole journey so memorable. Right off the bat as we drove into the city of Hamilton to continue from Scenic Road, we encountered road blocks.  We weren’t sure what was going on but we simply assumed that it was construction.  It definitely delayed our start a little.  This time our group grew back to four people!

Apparently someone lost a book.  Good reading on the trail?

When isn’t it a good time to read?  I’ve never actually read while on the trail before but I suppose anything can happen.  I hope the book gets returned to its owner … unless it isn’t worth reading of course.

This part of the trail that passes through Hamilton is quite interesting because it weaves its way through a number of conservation areas in the city.  This meant that the trails were often quite wide and very well developed — some of which were even accommodating to horses and mountain bikes.

Along the trailSome beautiful and lush areas along the trail.

There are always little parts of the trail that you have to stop and take in.  For whatever reason, they always remind me of magical forests in fantasy novels and movies.  At a certain point, the group gets a little silly so we decide that we should greet fellow hikers along the way in different languages — each of us speaking a language that would not match up with our appearance.  As much as we laughed at our ridiculous idea, the action failed to take hold.  Perhaps later into the hike!

Deer!  This was the second one we encountered as we were hiking.

Along the way, we were surprised to encounter a number of deer.  It astounded me that they were literally metres away from the road behind the trees.  Makes me really appreciate how much takes place in the forest without drivers noticing anything whatsoever — not that they should anyways — for safety’s sake.

The deer spotting had us in a great mood but what made the day even better was stumbling upon Sherman Falls.  We didn’t notice it on the map so it was completely unexpected and it was a very pretty waterfall — one that you could walk right up to.  No one was around at this time which was quite surprising but later in the afternoon when I was driving home, I saw so many cars parked nearby.  What made this waterfall even more interesting is that it is technically private land.  The family who owns this piece of land with such a beautiful waterfall are very lucky but I’m also appreciative of the fact that they are sharing it with us all on the Bruce Trail.

What an unexpected treat to pass by Sherman's Falls.Someone had too much fun and forgot their sock.Enjoying a view of the forest along the escarpment.

Just when you thought the day couldn’t get any more interesting, we came across the remains of an old summer cottage in the Dundas Valley Conservation area.  I have to admit, people and their ideas of cottages haven’t really changed much — they are still large houses in what is supposed to be an “isolated” area.

The remains of a summer cottage.Dundas Valley Conservation area is a fascinating place.  We saw a runner who literally blazed by us.

Because we were passing through a relatively urban park, it is always interesting to see who you encounter along the way.  We saw people on horseback, mountain bikers, people simply out for a stroll, other hikers, and most surprisingly — one of the fastest runners I have ever seen.  He literally bolted up and over hills without slowing down even a bit.

What do we have here?  Pollen Central?

Once we passed through the major conservation areas, we came across a still water pond covered entirely with what I believe to be pollen.  Of course hikers just have to have a little bit of fun with this and so some of us began to try and skip stones across the water or in one case, just make a big splash to disperse the pollen on the water.  I suggested a skilled attempt at creating a happy face…

Quirky bakery

Along the way we decided to take a small detour because we noticed all these signs about the Dundas Cactus Festival.  We had no idea what this was about but it seemed like fun to check out. We also barely saw anyone with cacti (although it could be because of the rain).  I think I saw more chiropractors offering free spinal examinations than food joints.  Some food was pretty tempting … poutine along the hike?  Why not?

Strolling through the Dundas Cactus FestivalSome funky graffiti on the way to our destination point

After passing through a chunk of the festival, we joined back up with the trail and hiked towards our destination point on Sydenham.  It’s a pretty long uphill climb, but the views are nice and the weather wasn’t too bad that day, although it did get a lot warmer and more humid into the afternoon that day.

Unfortunately, my GPS for whatever reason decided not to record the track so I have no map data to provide this time around!

For now, check out the full gallery here and keep an eye out for the next Bruce Trail update!

Bruce Trail Part 8 – Felker’s Falls to Scenic Drive

The weekend right after I returned from Japan — a mere three days after I landed — my friends and I were eager to continue our Bruce Trail hike. They had been away for some time and I was away in Japan for quite a while so it was perfect timing regardless of my slight jet lag. This part of the hike was very much an urban hike.

It was a while since the last Bruce Trail hike.  The weekend right after I returned from Japan — a mere three days after I landed — my friends and I were eager to continue our Bruce Trail hike. They had been away for some time and I was away in Japan for quite a while so it was perfect timing regardless of my slight jet lag. This part of the hike was very much an urban hike.  A lot of road and urban park paths but there are always some interesting things to see.

Looking down at a small stream or brook along the Bruce Trail

Although quite humid, the initial part of the hike was great — having to visit Albion Falls.  It’s quite fun to see how people interact with the falls.  Some try to climb it, others just swim at the bottom.  We saw one family dog who got stuck on a rock at the bottom of the waterfall, refusing to leave or wade into the water.

Albion Falls

One of the peculiar things we encountered was that this section of the trail had so many stairs.  In fact, there were so many people who were making use of these staircases to train or keep in shape.  It was actually quite inspiring to see all these people keeping active regardless of who they were.

Encountered a lot of these staircases along this section of the route.

Every so often along the Bruce Trail, you notice something that just is so out of the blue or has been touched by someone I do not know, but that person has likely amused or brightened up many other Bruce Trail hikers.

Someone drew a cupcake on a fence.

Sections of the trail were a popular walking and bicycle path through Hamilton led us to small lookouts right over a brick factory.  It’s so bizarre to see something like this right next to a residential area but I imagine in the earlier years of the city, this was pretty typical.

Brick making factory

One of the definitive trademarks (in a manner of speaking) of this section of the trail was the incredibly tall staircase.  We saw so many people running up and down sections of it or going all the way up.  Some friends weren’t so keen on the stairs but we conquered it!

This looks like a normal trail but just a couple metres on either side of us are highways.

One of the awesome aspects about this section of the trail that goes through Hamilton is that you get some awesome views of the city after going up the staircases.  Too bad the trail is all sidewalk.

Some nice views of the city to the right.

Where there aren’t good views, sometimes you find some urban art to enjoy.

We get to enjoy some graffiti as we pass by highways or major city roads that are fenced off.

The trail finally veers off of the roads and takes us to a very nice tranquil area where we get to walk right next to this amazing natural wall or “mini escarpment”.

Enjoying the walk next to the geological formation

As we got closer to the end of the trail, we sort of got lost and ended up walking along a road parallel to the trail but we still made it to the right destination point.  Some of the fascinating encounters along the way were these signs with QR codes and instructions on doing push ups or jumping jacks.  I think there must be a neat health program somewhere in the community.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Still catching up since Japan but keep looking out for more updates!

For now, check out the full gallery for this section of the hike.

Bruce Trail Part 7 – Woolverton to Felker’s Falls

It’s going to be a while before we continue on the Bruce Trail so my friends and I wanted to hit the trail one more time before a few of us are away.  We had anticipated a hot and humid day but mother nature had something different in mind for us.  We also didn’t anticipate so many cyclists on the road but they were all riding for a great cause to conquer cancer.  This slowed us down a little so we started the hike a little late.

The start of the trail was overgrown but quite beautiful.  Wildflowers were numerous throughout this section of the trail.

It’s going to be a while before we continue on the Bruce Trail so my friends and I wanted to hit the trail one more time before a few of us are away.  We had anticipated a hot and humid day but mother nature had something different in mind for us.  We also didn’t anticipate so many cyclists on the road but they were all riding for a great cause to conquer cancer.  This slowed us down a little so we started the hike a little late.

Immediately I was impressed by the scenic environment as we hiked along the escarpment from Woolverton Road.  Everything was so lush and green and reminded me of worlds I’ve read of in fantasy fiction novels.  We simply stopped and took it all in.

Descending into a valleyThis section of the Bruce Trail had some stunningly lush and green.  Some parts reminded me of backdrops I had imagined from reading fantasy novels.

Along the way we encountered an incredibly large tree trunk — no roots or stump.  We’re not sure how it got there but we hypothesized that it could have rolled down the hill.  This tree must have had quite the stories to share in a manner of speaking.

We found an enormous tree trunk.  Where it came from we are not sure.  It appears to have rolled down the hill?A vibrant and green canopy

Much of this section of the trail we hiked this time were covered with a carpet of green.  I was surprised how it spread or at least grew so rapidly that it easily covered so much ground.  It does bring a sense of ‘magic’ to the trail though.

Checking the map.  Once we got into Hamilton, we were crossing a lot of these roads.Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Along the way, I spotted some peculiarities on this section of the trail.  I often wonder how people hike through entire sections of the trail — on occasion, I’ve noticed campfires.  Not sure if these are often permitted but this section had an awesome campsite.  That said, I don’t know how I feel about it being right next to the trail.

A great campsite location along the way.  I wonder how often this is used.

We had our own happy moment when we realized we had passed the 100km mark of the whole Bruce Trail since starting from Queenston.  What we were surprised to encounter as we trekked into Hamilton were fences set up right next to the trail.  I realize the property owners may be concerned about trespassers but it seems a bit extreme.  I have my doubts whether there are (or would be) trespassers but I admit anything is possible and am actually curious if these folks actually have had thru-hikers trespass deep into their properties.

After entering the Hamilton section of the trail, we began noticing a lot of fences.  I'm guessing a lot of folks are concerned with hikers trespassing into their backyard? A 1970s or 1980s vehicle remains.  Still puzzled how it made its way here.

Right before we got into the vicinity of the Devil’s Punchbowl, we encountered another old car wreck.  One day, it would be awesome to hear about the stories behind these car wrecks along the trail.  Perhaps they also served as a small home for animals at some point.

The stream running downwards is from the Devils Punchbowl waterfall.

It happened to start raining pretty hard but thankfully the tree canopy kept us pretty dry for the most part.  We took a little side trip to the Devil’s Punchbowl but there wasn’t really a lot of water coming down the falls.  It was getting pretty wet so we only spent a little time there and moved on.  Unfortunately despite us moving pretty quickly, my allergies were driving me nuts and I ended up getting separated from my friends.  Ended up walking up a steep hill twice trying to find my way back on to the right trail!

Interesting residential train crossing.Enjoying the graffiti along the tracks while passing under a bridge.

Passing through a section of the trail along the tracks — there was a lot of interesting graffiti.  More elaborate than the typical graffiti tags that I have encountered along the trail next to bridges or the random wall.  I realize there is a downside to graffiti but one has to acknowledge good artwork despite the medium that may on occasion be considered inappropriate.

Everything looks so different from the time we hiked in the spring.  Less muddy and darker greens.The final hike up hill is steep but a nice last real challenge (aside from the rain).

This section of the hike had some pretty steep climbs to tackle but the cool temperature that day made it a little easier.  We were really pushing the distance achieved this time around (20km rather than the average 15 to 18km) and not everyone had a good night of sleep (i.e. late night party) but everyone ultimately survived!

Passed by a treehouse in progress.  This looked pretty sophisticated.The final highlight, Felkner's Falls.

Near the end of the hike, we ended up finding an awesome treehouse in-progress.  It reminded me of Calvin and Hobbes — and how I often wished I had grown up with a cool treehouse.  It’s weird how no one I knew in Toronto actually had a treehouse.  Maybe it’s an urban neighbourhood thing.

We also enjoyed viewing Felkner’s Falls briefly but we ended up rushing to the car because the rain was really beginning to come down — and it was no longer too much fun to be a little ‘moist’.

At last!  Arrived at the Felkner's Falls Conservation Area parking lot in the rain.

This is the last Bruce Trail hike for some time as there are a number of travel plans in place so the core Bruce Trail hiking group won’t be around to make any progress.  Check out the full gallery from this hike but in the meantime, I’ll be training for Japan.