One of our favorite places to hike near St. Louis is the Shaw Nature Reserve. Only about 30 min from the city, it feels a world away. The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis purchased the reserve land as a safe refuge for the plant collection from the smoke pollution of the 1920s. It has developed into a wonderful site to explore and view wildlife as well as view plants and habitat native to the Missouri region.
The trails range from an easy paved stroll to a more challenging climb up and down the bluffs towards the Meramec River. You can even take a jogging stroller on many of the paths. We have taken ours on paths far more rugged than our stroller really was meant to travel!
The reserve features beautiful wildflower gardens around a restored 1879 home on the grounds. The home is also open to visitors to enter and see the period furnishings and elegant woodwork.
One of the interesting features of the reserve is the variety of habitat featured. There are areas of prairie, glades, woodlands, and even a wetland area with boardwalks our kids love clomping across.
Of course our kids favorite area is the Nature Explore Classroom and Sense of Wonder Woodland play areas. These areas are perfect for kids to engage their senses by climbing both on or through trees, balancing across logs, making music, or just using their imagination to create and pretend.
If you happen to visit in mid April, you may see the dazzling sea of bluebells on trails near the River. (More on that here.)No matter which trail or area you explore, you can keep returning to the reserve over and over and discover something new each time!
Shaw is open daily from 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. Missouri Botanical Garden members can get earlier access. Download a Park Map here
Admission is $5; $3 seniors & children; members and children under 12 free