Plan Your Visit

Here are some suggestions of walks and hikes to help you familiarize yourself with Shaw Nature Reserve, in case this is your first visit. With the help of our trail map and these tips, we hope you will explore at least a bit of the 2400 acres that make up Shaw Nature Reserve.  

If you have small children

Near the main entrance and visitor center is the Nature Explore Classroom (NEC). This wonderful, outdoor play area contains logs to climb over and through, bamboo to build with, “music instruments” to play, pieces of wood in all shapes and sizes to build with, animal bones and skulls to study. Perfect for children ages three to ten.

There are also several easy walks for families with small children. To Wolf Run Lake and back is about a mile. The trail head and parking for Wolf Run Trail is on the east side of the Pinetum Lake, also near the entrance. There are several docks around Wolf Run Lake, and children (and adults) enjoy lying on the docks to see what little critters are in the water.

Another easy walk for everyone is in the Whitmire Wildflower Garden – and a must see, especially spring through fall. Five acres of Missouri wildflowers, ponds with turtles sunning themselves on logs, lots of bird activity can delight children, as well as their parents. You can walk to the Whitmire Wildflower Garden from the NEC. Just follow the trail from the NEC, walk around the Pinetum Lake and follow the signs to the Whitmire Wildflower Garden. Or you can drive around the Pinetum Loop Road and park in the gravel lot a short distance form the Wildflower Garden.

Many of the trails are stroller friendly, but a jogging stroller will be the easiest to handle and give the smoothest ride. There are two jogging strollers for rent at $3 for the day in the Visitor Center.

Walks of about a mile

Walks of about a mile from Whitmire Wildflower Garden, Bascom House and Pinetum Lake areas from parking areas that are accessible by car every day.

The walk around Pinetum Lake on the road is about 3/4 of a mile. 

Wolf Run Trail is approximately a one-mile round-trip loop from the Pinetum Lake parking (on east side of lake) and back.

The sod house and teepee in the prairie are also about a one-mile round trip from the Whitmire Wildflower Garden via Brush Creek Trail and back.

There are 14 miles of hiking trails, and with the help of the trail map a visitor can choose a short stroll or hikes of several miles.  There are many excellent places to hike.

If you are interested in running we have mapped out several runs including a mile route that includes information on where water and bathroom spots are located.

Geocaching and GPS

Visitors with GPS unitsGeocaching:
The sport of Geocaching began in 2000 when Dave Ulmer hid the first cache and posted the GPS coordinates on the Internet. Ulmer originally called it the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt.” Today, geocaches can be found almost everywhere, including Shaw Nature Reserve. To find these caches you need a GPS unit and the coordinates where they are hidden. When you find a cache you take an item, leave one in its place and then sign a register contained in the cache. Please keep all geocaches in their original location.

Visit http://www.geocaching.com/ to find the Reserve caches, and others all over the world.

Download Reserve geocache information

GPS Hiking:
Shaw Nature Reserve has created a guide for people familiar with using their GPS unit to explore new areas. We have listed GPS coordinates that lead you to places with unique views, historical significance or interesting ecology. Many of the coordinates lead you off the main trails and into parts of the Reserve that are seldom visited. Some are very obvious landmarks. Others are more difficult to find or may just lead you to a general area, such as to a cypress slough or a glade. We hope you visit as many of these sites as you can and enjoy the destinations as much as the exploring.

Download a brochure with GPS-based hiking opportunities and the first six official geocaches to be hidden at Shaw Nature Reserve!

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Picnicking

We always encourage walkers to bring plenty of water and whatever snacks they enjoy when hiking. We also welcome picnicking for those who want more than a snack.

We ask that you picnic at the specified picnic areas. Near the Visitor Center are a number of picnic tables. This area is conveniently located near the Nature Explore Classroom (NEC). If you have children between the ages of 3 and 10, be sure to check out this creative, "natural" play area.

At the new Glassberg Family Pavilions (behind the Bascom House), there are many tables and the setting is beautiful as it is surrounded by the prairie near the Whitmire Wildflower Garden.

A third picnic area is at the Maritz Trail House. Monday through Thursday, April through November, there is vehicle access to the Trail House, making it easy to use a cooler and have a more elaborate picnic. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, walkers must pack in their food to the Trail House. It is about ¾ mile from the Bascom House/Whitmire Wildflower Garden to the Trail House.

There is no grilling or cooking over fire at SNR.

Vehicle access

April through November, Monday through Thursday, the three-mile Trail House Loop Road is open to vehicles. There is parking at the Maritz Trail House and at the Wetland Trail Head. 

Shorter hikes using your vehicle on the Trail House loop road: 

From the Maritz Trail House, it is a one-mile round trip down to the Meramec River gravel bar and back up to the Trail House (using the Wildflower Trail and a short spur). 

From the Maritz Trail House to the sod house and teepee in the prairie is 200 yards out!

The Wetland Trail is 1.3 miles from the wetland parking/school bus stop, making the complete loop around the farthest pond (with a 300-foot boardwalk) and back. Along the way, there is short detour to an observation blind that has a viewing scope overlooking the wetlands. Children might think of this as a tree house of sorts. The Wetland Trail is ADA approved, making it a favorite for visitors with wheelchairs and strollers and for walkers who are looking for a smooth, compact, flat trail.