This article is presented in partnership with Missouri Botanical Garden.

Shaw Nature Reserve’s wide variety of native plants, wildlife, and ecosystems always offer more to explore. Its seventeen-mile trail system provides visitors with an opportunity for adventure and discovery amidst 2,441-acres of protected and restored natural landscapes. The trails wind their way through diverse habitats including prairies, woodlands, glades, and wetlands. Visitors can pick up a trail guide and learn about seasonal highlights at the Visitor Center. 

In addition to providing opportunities for education and nature study, Shaw Nature Reserve trails offer an ideal setting for hiking, walking, jogging, and running. Families will enjoy the Nature Explore Classroom with climbing logs, natural building materials, and balance play. The one-mile Wetland Trail is another great option for families; this flat, gravel path leads to a three-hundred-foot boardwalk and observation blinds to view birds and other wildlife. 

The Whitmire Wildflower Garden, which surrounds the historic Bascom House, is often referenced as the most exceptional demonstration of native landscaping in the Midwest. Visually stunning and biologically diverse gardens provide inspiration for visitors seeking to enhance habitat for pollinators and birds by integrating native plants into their home gardens. Just east of the garden, the Brush Creek Trail leads through a shady woodland and across Brush Creek to the prairie. From the end of the three-quarter-mile trail Brush Creek Trail, visitors can extend their walk to the Prairie Trail or further south towards the Meramec River. The Prairie Trail leads to a hillcrest observation area offering panoramic views. 

Departing from the south end of the Brush Creek Trail or from the Maritz Trail House parking area, the Wildflower Trail and Bluff Overlook Trail are both three-quarter loops that provide special features of their own. The Wildflower Trail offers a diverse collection of wildflowers to entice hikers, while the Bluff Overlook Trail winds through an oak-hickory woodland and dolomite glade before arriving at an overlook with views of towering floodplain forest in the Meramec River valley below. 

Visitors looking for longer outings can easily join trails together and may want to start on some of the longer trails. Wolf Run Trail is a one-mile loop beginning east of Cypress Lake, formerly known as Pinetum Lake. Wolf Run Lake provides a midway resting spot with several benches nestled in the shade. Rus Goddard River Trail is a 2.5-mile loop with varying difficulty due to steep inclines, rocky glades, and bottomland forests. From this trail, visitors can explore a gravel bar along the Meramec River. 

To protect the health of visitors, Shaw Nature Reserve has implemented new ticketing and visitor procedures, and some buildings and facilities remain closed. For updated information and to reserve tickets, visit