Natural Areas


Since 1980, Shaw Nature Reserve has become a focus for native habitat management and restoration: prescribed burning, correctly timed field mowing, selective thinning of woodlands, judicious use of herbicides for invasive species control, plant diversity enhancement, and reconstruction “from scratch” of prairies and wetlands. As a result, the Nature Reserve is able to offer 14 miles of hiking trails through a diversity of Ozark Border landscapes, including floodplain forest, upland woods, dolomite glades, tallgrass prairie, oak-hickory woodlands and savannas, and wetlands. Restoration of these habitats provides the Nature Reserve’s visitors a uniquely varied experience of Missouri’s rich biological heritage.

Wildlife Areas



The diversity of plant communities and the extensive acreage of Shaw Nature Reserve, combined with the educational resources of the Garden, provide a unique opportunity for outdoor education. The Nature Reserve serves as an outdoor laboratory for the development of innovative outdoor interpretive programs. The education staff, specially trained volunteers and guest instructors offer workshops, classes and natural awareness walks for thousands of children and adults each year. 

Some years ago we developed an outdoor educational area at the Nature Reserve: In collaboration with the National Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, the Nature Reserve has built a Nature Explore Classroom™. Using research-tested activities and unstructured play with natural materials in this outdoor setting, children will gain connection with nature, as a wholesome antidote to the increasing cultural problem of "nature deficit disorder." In 2015 we opened the Sense of Wonder Woodland to expand the Nature Explore Classroom. The Sense of Wonder Woodland includes a fire tower, tree-mendous bridge, elf house, story time area, and more.

Children's Nature Play Areas



Several interesting and historic buildings may also be found at Shaw Nature Reserve: the Bascom House, an elegant brick home built in 1879 by former Confederate Col. Thomas W.B. Crews and the Maritz Trail House, a rustic stone and log picnic pavilion. The Dana Brown Overnight Center is a complex of historic buildings (circa 1850), carefully taken down at their original locations and re-constructed at the Nature Reserve.


Hikes and Trails

Hikers consulting a map

There are 17 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.

Hikes and Trails