The exit is next to the entrance, but to get out of the largest corn maze in Southern California takes about 45 minutes of navigating through paths of circles and dead ends of gently swaying corn stalks that reach up to eight feet tall and seem to whisper at every turn.
Thousands of visitors flock to the Big Horse Corn Maze each October, which is on 12 acres behind Big Horse Feed & Mercantile. The Corona family’s farm annually dedicates a portion of their 165 acres to growing corn for their maze, which is the main attraction in their monthlong harvest festival.
“We know how to grow corn,” said Rose Corona, owner. She said her brother came up with the maze idea for their farm 15 years ago, after learning of a Utah-based company that professionally cuts corn into labyrinths.
“We create the design every year, and it’s usually dedicated to the military because they’re the only ones who can see it,” Corona said. This year’s theme is the patriotic eagle logo of the Gary Sinise Foundation, which is well known in Temecula for giving back to military heroes.
How is the design created? It starts with an image, according to Kamille Combs, consultant for the Maize, Inc. The Maize has cut more than 2000 corn mazes since 1996, and their first zigzag of rows began with a modified weed whacker and took three weeks to complete. But the process is now honed to a science by using a grid pattern that is matched to a computer design.
“It’s like a dot-to-dot on the back of a cereal box,” Combs said. “We’re matching points on the maze design to points in the field.” The end result is dirt pathways that span about five feet wide through thick clusters of seemingly endless rows of tall corn.
The mazes are generally created to conform to the same challenge level, Combs said.
“Typically, people like to be lost 45 minutes to an hour.”
Marlon Mitchell, an employee of the corn maze, said he navigated the maze once, after about 100 people had entered ahead of him.
“It’s pretty cool," said Mitchell. "It’s kind of freaky a bit because all you can see is the sky and the corn."
The last week in October is harvest time.
“At the end of the corn maze we chop it down and give it to our cattle,” Corona said.