Shaw Nature Reserve

Shaw Nature Reserve (formerly Shaw Arboretum) is part of the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  It is located 35 miles southwest of Saint Louis, along I-44, in Grey Summit.  It was founded in 1925 when coal smoke was killing the living plant collections housed at the Garden.  Now the 2,500 acres of the Shaw Nature Reserve are dedicated to preserving the natural Ozark landscape and the indigenous plants.

Anne and I drove to the Shaw Nature Reserve on Saturday.  Being Garden members, admission was free.  It was warm, 88 °F was Saturday’s predicted high.  We enjoyed the shaded portions of the reserve, endured the sunny parts and quickly moved through them on our way to then next shady section.

The reserve doesn’t have the manicured perfection of the Gardens, but it is still well-tended.  There were plenty of wildflowers in bloom.  Milkweed and Cone Flowers are pictured with this post.  There was a lot more wildlife at the reserve than you can find at the Gardens.  I photographed a new bird species, the Eastern Phoebe.  I saw several more birds that I have not yet photographed.

We basically walked down to the Meramec River and back.  This walk took us through quite a few ecosystems and we didn’t have to retrace all of our steps.  We cooled ourselves by wading into the Meramec.  We saw floaters floating there, vultures circling the thermals and a rather cut kayak.

In past visits to the reserve, some family members have brought home unintended pets, pets of the eight legged variety, not to put to fine a point on it, ticks.  This time we checked for ticks throughout our walk and after.  We didn’t see any and I attribute this to the trail improvements that have been made, a wide gravel trail is not tick friendly.

It has been more than a few years since I had visited the reserve.  Anne had an internship there, so she had been there more recently.  I like the place, there is a lot to see and we did not see it all when we were there on Saturday.  The place is not particularly bike friendly.  All of the interesting trails are closed to bikes, but for a bike-hike exercise it could be made to work, there are roads that link the trailheads that are closed to cars.  Once we gain some familiarity with the place, we could hop, skip and jump from one bird paparazzi place to the next.

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