In this area, it gets hot and humid in the summertime. I have an inclination to stay inside where it's air conditioned, but that gets boring so I try to take advantage of every chance to get out of the house that I can. The forecast for today was "only" 90 degrees, and even hotter weather is on the way, so and I decided to do an outside activity. We took a look at our list of things to do and chose one we haven't been to in years--the Shaw Nature Reserve, the "natural" part of the Missouri Botanical Garden.
We packed a picnic lunch, applied sunscreen, and started on our adventure. The Shaw Reserve is located in Gray Summit, 35 miles southwest of St. Louis. However, from our house it's closer to a 25 mile drive, most of which is on a scenic section of Interstate 44. The Reserve was founded in 1925 when coal smoke from the city of St. Louis threatened the plant collections at the Botanical Garden. They actually moved their orchid collection there in 1926, but the pollution in the city cleared up before it was necessary to move anything else. Now it's a combination of natural Ozark landscape and managed plant collections. They also have offer educational programs and have an overnight center for groups.
When we got there we stopped at the Visitor Center to pay our admission fees and pick up maps. The Reserve has over 14 miles of hiking trails, but we only used two. The first, the Brush Creek Trail, meandered through sections of woodlands and tallgrass prairies. We veered off the trail to stop at the Whitmire Wildflower Garden, a five-acre demonstration garden which showcases Missouri and eastern U.S. native wildflowers, native grasses, shrubs and trees. The beautiful displays left me inspired but frustrated, as I compared them to the meager scraggly beds at my house.
We ate lunch on a bench by a lake under some huge bald cypress trees. When we took the cooler back to the car we noticed that the trailhead of the Wolf Run Trail was right there, so we decided to make that our next walk. This trail had a lake at the halfway point, which was a nice spot to sit for a few minutes. It was getting quite hot, though, and we decided it was time to head back to the car. The air conditioning felt so good!
Even though I had a great time, I think next time I go to the Nature Reserve I'll choose a little more temperate day.