Learn more about COVID-19 policies, site information, and reserve or purchase required e-tickets in advance of your visit by clicking here. 

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.  



  • Please leave flowers and plants for everyone to enjoy. Do not collect or remove seeds, flowers, fruits and vegetables, plant labels, etc.
  • Please stay on trails.


  • No fires.
  • No alcoholic beverages.
  • Picnicking is allowed at the designated table areas only.


  • Bicycles permitted on service roads only.


  • No pets allowed, please. Assistance animals are welcome at the Shaw Nature Reserve. Please review these guidelines to help you enjoy your visit with your assistance animal.
  • Do not feed or handle the wildlife. It can be harmful to them - and you.
  • No hunting or fishing.


  • Shaw Nature Reserve is a tobacco-free environment. Smoking and tobacco products and devices are not allowed on Shaw Nature Reserve property, including all buildings, grounds, restrooms and parking lots.
  • We care about the environment. Please dispose of waste in recycle bins when appropriate. Do not litter.



  • Do not wade or swim in ponds, streams or the Meramec River.
  • Please keep your personal items with you at all times. Shaw Nature Reserve cannot be held responsible for missing items. If you recover an item on the grounds that does not belong to you, please turn it in to the Visitor's Center.  
  • For their safety, please supervise children at all times. One adult should accompany every five children.
  • No climbing trees unless part of a class.
  • Weapons and firearms are prohibited at the Shaw Nature Reserve.

Solicitation Policy

Shaw Nature Reserve values the visitor experience. In order to provide a distraction-free environment for our guests, we do not allow solicitation or petitioning of any kind from any outside, non-sanctioned entity on Shaw Nature Reserve property, regardless of the organization or cause being represented. This includes, but is not limited to, the circulation or distribution of literature, brochures, handbills, flyers, leaflets, signage, pamphlets, notices, cards, advertising, promotional items, petitions, registrations, etc. Informational tables and booths are not permitted unless authorization is given by Shaw Nature Reserve.

Shaw Nature Reserve property includes the grounds, buildings, parking lots and other facilities. Anyone not in compliance with this policy will be asked to leave the premises.

The rights of other visitors to enjoy Shaw Nature Reserve must always be respected. Shaw Nature Reserve reserves the right to ask a visitor to leave for inappropriate or offensive behavior. Visitors will be held liable for any damage to Shaw Nature Reserve property.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.


If you have small children

Near the main entrance and visitor center is a children's natural play area that includes the Nature Explore Classroom and the Sense of Wonder Woodland. These wonderful, outdoor play areas contain 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, a fire tower, a tree-mendous bridge, an elf house, and more. Open to all ages but best suited for families with children ages 2-12. 

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. 

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 tipi in the prairie is also about a one-mile round trip from the Whitmire Wildflower Garden via Brush Creek Trail and back.

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.

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 Nature Reserve caches, and others all over the world.




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Self-Guided Activity

Visitor Center TaleBlazer
After checking in at the Visitor Center you can learn more about the plants and animals of Shaw Nature Reserve with your phone while you hike. TaleBlazer games take place in the real world. Players interact with virtual characters, objects, and data as they move around their real location. TaleBlazer games can be played on most GPS-enabled Android and iOS smartphones.

Once a game is downloaded to your smartphone, you don't need an internet connection to play your games! Download the TaleBlazer (MIT STEP Lab) app from your phones’ app store. Once downloaded the Shaw Nature Reserve games should appear.

Our three games include information on wild edibles in the Whitmire Wildflower Garden, wetland flora and fauna facts at the wetland trail, and the life cycle of a monarch at the Nature Explore Classroom and Sense of Wonder Woodland. Each game is for a different age group. 



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 at the Glassberg Family Pavilions or at the Maritz Trail House

There is no grilling or cooking over fire at Shaw Nature Reserve.

Vehicle access

The three-mile Trail House Loop Road is open to vehicles year round. 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). 

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.