Shaw Nature Reserve Trail
Hwy. 100 & I-44
If you love wildflowers, Shaw Nature Reserve is the place to go. Its landscape blooms from spring to fall, showcasing its blossoms in a wide variety of habitats. A pre-hike walk through the Whitmire Wildflower Garden, where hundreds of flowers are identified in a condensed area, is a perfect way to learn what you'll see while hiking Shaw's wilder spaces. Shaw Nature Reserve is the most spectacular place to view wildflowers in all of Missouri, if not the whole Midwest. The place is absolutely incredible in late spring, when the early-blooming woodland flowers overlap with the slow-to-bloom grassland varieties. Nor is Shaw only about flowers its landscape includes savanna, forests, glades, river floodplains, a 20-acre marsh wetland, and over 100 acres of tall-grass prairie. With all these habitats and plenty of open space, it's a superb place for birding. This beautiful reserve is owned by the world-renowned Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. The garden bought land here in 1925 as a place to protect its living plant collections from the city's coal smoke. Its 2,400 acres include 550 acres on the south side of the Meramec, putting 3 miles of the river on the reserve. Shaw is a fascinating blend of natural and managed landscapes. While here you'll see lots of wild country, but might also witness human interventions such as controlled prairie burns and tree cutting for glade restoration. Surface: Mostly packed earth and gravel; mix of single-track, old roads, and gravel road.