Shaw Nature Reserve – Missouri


Opt Outside Day. The Friday after Thanksgiving. A day to go hiking instead of shopping! It felt like I had not been on a trail in forever so we decided to go to Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, Missouri. The Shaw Nature Reserve is an extension of the Missouri Botanical Garden. In 1925, 5 farms were purchased to create the reserve. No dogs are allowed so Ellie had to stay home for this one. Warning: There are tons of pictures in this post! There is just so much to see here! LOL!

The entrance is right off of the highway, but once you enter, it feels like you are a million miles from anywhere. Be sure to park at the cute Visitor’s Center and pay your admission. When we were there, it was $5 per person.

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We followed the signs to the back of the property to the Maritz Trail House. We first checked out the Crescent Knoll Overlook which provided a sweeping view of the glade.

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From here, we backtracked just a bit and hopped on the Wildflower (red) Trail. I am sure this trail would be so beautiful in the spring when the flowers are blooming on the glade.

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This trail was actually my favorite trail that we hiked. The trail leads past a little bit of bluffs as it descends down to the Meramec River Gravel Bar.

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All of the trails are signed really well at intersections so we really had no problems finding the gravel bar. This part reminded me a lot of Sherman Beach! We hiked here last year for Opt Outside Day!

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Down by the river we also found this HUGE tree!!

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After the gravel bar, we headed back to the parking lot via the Bluff Overlook (green) Trail. This trail was a bit more difficult as we had to hike back up on top of the bluffs.

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We arrived back at the Maritz Trail House which is a really cute stone structure.

Across the road on the Brush Creek (purple) Trail, we could see a teepee! While we didn’t plan on hiking this trail since it leads all the way back to the Visitor’s Center, we of course, had to check out the teepee.

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Next to the teepee, is the cutest house ever!! It is called the “Sod House” since sod covers the roof! I also loved the rustic door and windows. ❤

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We jumped back in the car and headed to the Wetland Trail parking lot. Just across the road is a bus stop that was built in 1939 by the CCC and was used along Route 66. In 2002 it was saved from demolition and moved to the Shaw Nature Reserve! What a cool piece of history!

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Up next was the Wetland Trail. This trail is about 1.3 miles round trip and circles several ponds. There are several different viewing platforms and a beautiful curved boardwalk.

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From the parking lot, if you walk just up the road a bit, to the right you will find the Serpentine Wall. This wall was built in 1946 to provide a windbreak for a boxwood garden. I found it interesting that the wall is only one brick wide, but the curved nature of the wall gives it its’ strength.

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Up next was to explore the wildflower garden near the Bascom House. Several trails meander between unique gardens.

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Our final adventure was to explore the children’s area because we are really just big kids, right?! I saw on Facebook where they recently installed a log bridge over the pond so we had to do it. Michelle and I both successfully crossed the bridge without falling into the pond =)

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All in all, this was a great way to spend Opt Outside Day. We had to much fun hiking and exploring all of the different areas within the Shaw Nature Reserve. Be sure to check this place out as you won’t be disappointed!

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