This series is located in one of my favorite places in Central Illinois--Allerton Park, just outside Monticello, IL Not only were many weekends spent here as a teenager growing up in Monticello, but it's also special to us as a couple, as our wedding was held in this beautiful park! Three of the boxes have been placed for several years, and two were just added in April 2012. I have edited the clues so that you are doing the boxes in the order that you would get to them from the entrance to the park. If you've already gotten the old plants, it is still easy to jump in the middle and get the two new ones without having to retrace any of your steps.
I've listed this box as a 1-2 mile walk, though the clue is written so that you'll do one box, then drive to a new location and do another, etc. So essentially we considered each box to be more of a stroll. Of course if you were really adventurous, you could hike the whole thing, which would take quite a bit longer! Before you begin your search for the boxes, if you'd like to stop by the Visitors' Center you can pick up a map of the park for a suggested $1 donation. The map isn't required for these boxes, but may be helpful if you want to do any additional exploring. Visitors' Center hours are listed as 9a-5p. We really encourage you to explore the park beyond where these three boxes take you, because it's a wonderful location with so much more to see than you will on your journey to our boxes!
Now, on to the clues!
Box 1: The Fu Dog Garden
Enter Allerton through the main entrance, located off Old Timber Road (the original front entrance to Allerton has been closed for many years, so be sure you go to the current "active" main entrance!). You'll drive a little ways before coming to what used to be a choice to go straight or left. Now, however, the road to go left is closed to vehicle traffic. You will want to park here, however, and start your journey. You'll see the Fu Dog Garden just on the other side of the trees, but don't head there yet! Walk down the closed road until you get to a trail on the right. You'll notice it looks like the trail head has been newly paved with loose gravel. Once on this trail, you'll follow it until the trail splits. When it splits, head right and notice the Goldfish Pond on your right. It looks pretty murky, but there are actually fish in there! Continue walking, passing a spot to rest in honor of Earl and Beverly. When you get to another resting place in honor of Ron, follow a small footpath to the right. Eventually you will reach a concrete bench, which seems like a good place to rest for a minute. Have a seat and peer to your left through the "V" next to you. What's that you can see through the V? Hiding under what you can see through here lies your prize (recommended color: blue). Have a seat on the bench while you stamp in, and if you sit and watch long enough, you're sure to catch a glimpse of a few beautiful koi fish swimming in those murky waters! Once you're finished and the box is re-hid well, you can retrace your steps to your car, but I encourage you to continue on a short walk to the Fu Dog Garden! Head back to Ron's bench and walk straight a short distance until you enter the rear of the Fu Dog Garden--it's picture-perfect! Your car will be just beyond the gazebo!
Box 2: The Mansion
Drive or walk down to the Visitor's Center. Enter the Center and walk out the door that heads toward the mansion. If you happen to be here when the Center is closed, you can walk around the end of the building and follow the path leading out the door mentioned above. Continue straight on the concrete path and shortly you will notice a wooden structure on the right. If you've looked at the map, this is called the Wetland Boardwalk. The Mansion is hiding behind the second post on your left (near a tree) as you enter the boardwalk. You won't be able to reach it from above though, so walk to the left of the boardwalk to retrieve it. There is a gazebo nearby ideal for stamping--please be extra careful as this is a very high-traffic area. Once you're done stamping, if you continue on the concrete path, you can get a close up look of the mansion. You cannot tour the inside, however. (Recommended color: Black)
Box 3: The Sunken Garden
From The Mansion you can walk through the formal gardens toward the Sunken Garden, or you can return to your vehicle and drive a short distance. The Sunken Garden is located right across the street from the 4-H Camp. You will see tall white pillars from the road and there is a small pull-off parking area. Walk to the garden and enjoy the beauty and structure. If you're boxing with a friend, send them to the opposite end of the garden while you stand at the entrance. Without raising your voice above a normal level for conversation, go ahead and talk to each other--the acoustics in here are perfect, and you'll be able to hear one another as though you were standing next to each other! This is a reason this is a popular location for weddings (ours included!), so if there happens to be one going on when you are on the hunt for this box, you'll have to come back, as you do have to enter the garden to get this box! If you are able to visit, though, you'll want to note now many concrete koi fish you see (not the gold ones!). Once you have your number, head to the rear stairs, farthest from the road. Walk up them and head left behind the evergreens. Stay within the garden walls, so you will be walking between the trees and the walls. Count as many bushes as there were fish and you will find the box wedged in near the trunk. (Recommended color: Black)
Box 4: Death of the Last Centaur
Head back to your car, and you'll drive a little ways farther, past the 4-H camp on your right and a guest house on your left. You will soon arrive at parking for the Centaur on your left. It's not labelled from the road that this is the Centaur, but it's the last parking area before you get to the park exit on the right. If you get to this exit, you've gone just a hair too far. Walk down the path to the Centaur and continue down the many stairs. You will see four tall pillars in the distance. This is your destination. Once you reach the end of the metal "fence" and see a very tiny bench, look to the left. You will see a 5-10 foot tree stump that looks like it was struck in two, many moons ago. In the base of the taller half of the stump will be your prize (recommended color: brown or black). Have a seat on any of the benches and enjoy the peaceful quiet here while you stamp in! Please re-hide well and make sure this can't be seen from the trail!
Box 5: The Sunsinger
Hop back in your car and continue on the road to the highlight of the park: The Sunsinger! This is truly a sight to see at dusk, as the setting sun behind the statue is so beautiful! Head to the statue and take a drive around the circle back to the road you just came in on. On the way out, if you look closely through the trees, you will see an old pioneer cemetery on your right. There used to be a sign, but now all that's left are two metal posts standing at the entrance. You can pull off here to park (if you get to the bend in the road veering left, you've missed the cemetery!). Locate "Charles A.S." and directly behind him you will see the remains of a stump. Go to the back side and underneath some debris will be your final box! (recommended color: green)
***At times, the gates leading to the Sunsinger will be closed. You can still travel this road on foot if you would like, and it's probably a half mile walk to the pioneer cemetery***
We hope you've enjoyed the park! Our hope is to plant a few more highlighting some other great things about Allerton. As always, watch for muggles and potential poison ivy. At the time of this planting, there was none in the area, but in the summer months, it could be a different story. Please send feedback on the condition of our boxes and let us know what you thought about the place! Happy hunting!