With spring weather finally upon us, kids and adults alike are anxious to experience the great outdoors. Lucky for us, St. Louis abounds with family-friendly ways to enjoy natural beauty. So as you get ready hit the trails, let these options lead you down the path.
SHAW NATURE RESERVE
For a bird’s-eye view of the outdoors, head to Shaw Nature Reserve, just west of St. Louis. Among a multitude of spring activities on the 2,400-acre property, families can take to the treetops over the trails for a two-hour canopy climb that includes sitting on branches, walking on limbs and relaxing in hammocks, while learning about the forest. Upcoming sessions will be April 13, May 11 and June 8.
After exploring the tree canopy, descend to the reserve’s 14 miles of trails for hiking, or join the monthly trail fun run on April 20, May 18 or June 15. And see the signs of spring day or night with family-friendly activities such as spring wildflower walks, morning bird walks, Wednesday walkers and full-moon night hikes.
Shaw Nature Reserve is located on the south side of Interstate 44 at exit 253 in Gray Summit. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and free for Missouri Botanical Garden members and children 12 and younger. For more information, call 636-451-3512 or visit shawnature.org.
CASTLEWOOD STATE PARK
Castlewood State Park offers seemingly endless ways to explore Mother Nature. Hike or bike through miles of winding gravel and dirt trails amid towering trees along the Meramec River and Lincoln Beach. Ranging from about 2 to 7 miles, the scenic routes—Al Foster Trail, Castlewood Loop, Cedar Bluff Loop, Chubb Trail, Grotpeter Trail, Lone Wolf Trail, River Scene Trail and Stinging Nettle Trail—each have something special to offer.
The park is located at 1401 Kiefer Creek Road in Ballwin. Park general admission is free. For more information, visit stlouisco.com.
CREVE COEUR PARK
Bikers, runners and walkers can choose from a variety of scenic trail experiences at the 2,114-acre park. A wide, paved 3.7-mile trail loops around the calm waters of Creve Coeur Lake, which often welcomes visitors with sailboats. Another 2.6-mile paved trail wraps around the smaller, nearby Mallard Lake, and a 2.8-mile paved trail weaves through beautiful wooded meadows between the lakes.
And coming this summer, a Tree Top Adventure Course featuring zip-lining is being installed over some of the trails for even more fun family outings.
The park is located at 2348 Creve Coeur Mill Road. Park general admission is free. For more information, visit stlouisco.com.
For a break from the city, families can experience the countryside at Queeny Park near Des Peres.
Winding up and down rolling, wooded hills and open prairies, the 569-acre park has more than 7 miles of gravel and paved trails for running, walking, biking or even horseback riding.
Queeny is located at 550 Weidman Road & 1675 South Mason Road. Park general admission is free. For more information, visit stlouisco.com.
BABLER STATE PARK
With 13 miles of scenic hiking trails, visitors can wander through the wilderness of Wildwood at Babler State Park. And family-friendly nature programs are offered on Friday and Saturday nights, June through August, in the campground amphitheater.
The park is located at 800 Guy Park Drive. Park general admission is free. For more information, visit stateparks.com.
Amid 112 acres of oak hickory forest, guests can enjoy hiking on three miles of trails at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood.
Explore on your own or join the park’s naturalists for family activities, such as a hike and story time during You and Me Under the Canopy, beginning at 10 a.m. April 2. Other upcoming events include insights into the natural world—from a Community Forestry Workshop at 7 p.m. April 11 to a session about birds’ spring activities during Feathered Family Fun at 9:30 a.m. April 16. Additionally, the nature center has two floors of interactive exhibits.
The park is located at 11715 Cragwold Road. Park general admission is free. For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov.
KATY TRAIL STATE PARK
The nation’s longest trails-to-rails project, the Katy Trail offers miles of smooth and scenic course for biking, running or walking.
Among upcoming events, a family-friendly bike ride—the Katy Dawdle Ride—will take off at 10 a.m. May 18 from Frontier Park to explore the natural area east of St. Charles.
The Katy Trail has multiple access points. Park general admission is free. For more information, visit mostateparks.com.
Get a glimpse of wildlife up-close at Lone Elk County Park. Bison, elk, wild turkey, waterfowl, deer and more roam the 550 acres of natural grounds.
Take a hike on the steep and rocky 3-mile White Bison Trail, or run along the 6.5-mile Chubb Trail, which connects to West Tyson Park.
The park is located at 1 Lone Elk Park Road along Interstate 44 North Outer Road west of Highway 141. For more information, visit stlouisco.com.