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Traveling just over 18 miles through some of the most scenic areas of the Buckeye State, the Richland B&O Trail is an ideal way to immerse yourself in the region. Built partially as a result of the National Trails System Act amended in 1983, the path follows the disused line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad along a semicircular route between Butler and Mansfield in north-central Ohio. In addition to presenting stunning views and abundant wildlife, the trail passes through quaint towns with shops and restaurants.
Begin at Frances Hitchman Park in Butler, where commemorative benches depict the history of the railroad that operated along the corridor. Head northwest as the trail zigzags across several roads and weaves in and out of rural landscapes. Just outside of town, you’ll cross a fork of the Mohican River and enjoy beautiful views of the valley from the bridge. On the far side of the slow-moving river, the trail takes you into quiet rural fields. At the next crossing of OH 97, note that trail users have a stop sign and that motorists have only a warning sign, so use caution.
Cross the river again on a unique curved-deck iron trestle bridge that leads into Bellville, about 5 miles from the start. Just over the bridge, the Bellville trailhead is located in a railroad depot that’s a replica of the one built in 1906. The depot offers restrooms, parking, and some interesting information about area history. Several more road crossings are ahead, as is a view south toward downtown Bellville with its classic small-town Main Street shopping district.
After crossing OH 97 again, the path reaches Alexander Road. Here, you’ll find many restaurants; just take a right at this crossroads. Continuing on, you’ll pass underneath I-71 and then experience a serene journey for the next 2-plus miles, with only one rural road crossing and a few farm fields breaking up the pleasant forested environment.
Coming out of the forest, the trail parallels South Mill Street for about 1 mile and passes a water treatment plant just before arriving in Lexington. The Lexington Senior Civic Center (a former depot) on the left side of the trail provides a restroom and a place to fill your water bottle, the last opportunity for a pit stop for nearly 7 miles.
At mile 15, you’ll arrive at Deer Park, which supplies basic trailhead amenities, before arriving at Home Road Marsh. Here, you may see an abundance of bird species, from swallows to hawks, as well as an assortment of other animals, including turtles, snakes, deer, and raccoons. Rest on one of the many benches and observe wildlife. Afterward, reach Mansfield and the tranquil northern end of the trail at North Lake Park.
The southern trailhead in Butler is located in Hitchman Park. From I-71, take Exit 165. Head southeast on OH 97 toward Bellville. In 3 miles, turn left onto Main St./OH 97, and go 0.3 mile. Turn right to remain on OH 97, and in 3.9 miles, turn right again onto OH 97. Go 1.8 miles; OH 97 becomes Main St. in Butler. At Elm St., turn right and immediately look for Frances Hitchman Park on your left behind Butler Town Hall.
The northern trailhead in Mansfield is located in North Lake Park. From I-71, take Exit 176 for US 30 W. Travel westbound on US 30 6.7 miles, and take the exit for OH 39 S/Springmill St. Head south on OH 39 into Mansfield; turn right onto Bowman St. in 0.9 mile, then take another right at the first cross street (0.3 mile) onto W. Sixth St. In 0.5 mile, turn right onto Rowland Ave. and continue 0.3 mile into North Lake Park; a parking lot is available on the west side of the lake.
The Richland B&O Trail runs through the Richland County, Ohio towns of Butler, Bellville, Lexington, and Mansfield. What's nice about this trail is that the distance between towns is approximately the same throughout the trail -- approximately 6 miles. Throughout its run, the trail goes through several types of scenery from farmland through woods and into urban settings.
The trail is paved but I noticed that several areas are suffering from tree root uplift so the surface gets bumpy at times. In addition, some road crossings are tricky, particularly, either due to the amount or speed of traffic and in some cases the angle at which the trail crosses the road. The worst offending crossings have flashing stop signs directed at riders and pedestrians on the trail, but I feel that perhaps these crossings should also have push button flashers for the trail users to activate to alert drivers when they want to cross.
Overall a trail worth checking out.
Lots of scenery change from small towns, to fields, to forests.
Beautiful ride on a nice trail. Slightly uphill from Butler to Mansfield and downhill on the way back. The bike shop where I was planning to rehydrate was closed when I rolled back through, which made for a balmy 11 miles back to the car.
I'm relatively new to biking so I was glad to see how easy it was to ride this trail. There certainly was a lot to see. So, I decided to make a video of my trip and posted it on my You Tube channel. Two thumbs up for the Richland B&O Trail. https://youtu.be/0LHhB_RBfS0
Been riding this Trail every weekend from start to finish. a very easy relaxing ride. Me and my wife ride later in the day and light up the trail as the sun goes down. Hardly any bumps or hills.
I skate the Richland B&O Trail almost every weekend in the summer. It is a great Trail to skate. Its pretty flat the length of the entire trail. I skate the whole length about 4 Times a summer, And have not had any problems. The surface overall is a 7 out of 10 for inline skating and a 10 out of 10 for biking. There are plenty of benches to rest if need be. a couple of spots to use the restroom also. One of the best trails I have been on So far
I drove down from Lake County on Saturday, Sept. 3 & it was well worth the drive! Beautiful scenery, perfect temperature & the trail was in excellent condition. I started in Butler, rode to the end in Mansfield then back. There are many points along the way to stop/join the trail as well as a lot of various crossings (main roads, farm paths, etc.) but they were pretty visible & I found no problems with them interfering in any way. The trail is very flat with a number of straightaways which makes it very easy to see people ahead of you. Many people running, walking & biking the day I was out. Everyone I passed seemed friendly. The biggest impression it had on me was the scenery throughout the ride with open corn fields near Butler & Bellville to the shade of the forest areas. It was absolutely gorgeous & I highly recommend this ride. Stopped in Bellville afterwards just to explore a little & found it to be a very charming little town.
This trail was our maiden voyage from the comfort of our home town Ottawa river walk trail . We read reviews ,,looked at maps,, pondered the experience in our dreams,, and finally turned our dreams into reality on Saturday August 27. Our expectations were high. Starting point at Millsboro Rd., we headed south. There were several people on the trail. Cyclers, Walkers,Joggers, Inline skaters,Moms jogging with their children in giant strollers,,a cornucopia of fitness activity. We were smiles from ear to ear the whole time. we traveled a total distance of 32.5 miles,,( our longest journey to date ). The weather was perfect,, the trail was exceptional. Maintenance was evident and appreciated. We took advantage of the rest benches along the way.( Thank you Mid Ohio). Our experience is to be remembered as a most fun time. We cannot wait to experience the trail as the season changes to fall. Awesome day.
I had a business project in this area and a friend and I took our bikes to try out this trail. It was perfect! The scenery was gorgeous and the path perfectly flat. There are a fair amount of road crossings but easy to maneuver. Barely any traffic in either direction. Just beautiful. My favorite part was the old iron train bridge.
We biked from Lexington to Butler, and back which was 11 miles. Then went a few miles North of Lexington towards Mansfield. Also exited the path a few times and rode on the roads near the trail. We got in 30 miles.
Parked in Lexington. Mile 11. We first went to Mansfield, however weren't comfortable leaving our vehicle in a grafiti covered park near boarded up and burned out houses.
Lexington has a large parking area near the Lexington Park. Restrooms there as well. Bicycle shop in Lexington right at the trail. Eateries nearby.
The trail traveled through wooded and open farmland areas. There are several road crossings. Lot's of cornfields. Just an all around country area to pass through.
Rest stop in Bellville. Bellville offers a B & B, several eateries, Subway sandwich shop nearby,grocery store and hardware store. Ice cream stand near the trail as well.
Old train station in Bellville has flush toilets, a Fix It (for bikes), picnic table and water fountain. A local rider told us they actually test that water and it's good. It was crystal clear and refreshing!
We biked down to Butler at mile 0. Trailhead there has a large parking area, flush toilets and picnic area. Convenience store nearby if you should need anything.
Well worth the several hour commute we had to get to this trail. Flat and asphalt paved in good condition. Shade and open areas, and places to eat just off the trail. Friendly people from all around as well.
This is a great trail. Smooth pavement, scenic and great little towns to stop in along the way. I rode the double....North Park to Butler and back. Plenty of parking spots to enter the trail from. See Trail Links for details. By the way, Trail Links was very informative. There is a great lunch stop in Butler. Crossroads Cafe at the Methodist Church, just off the trail. Look for the Cafe arrow. Great home cooked lunch. The people couldn't have been nicer. They are open, Tues, Wed, Thurs, 10-3. Friday, 10-2. We plan on going back to the trail and the Cafe.
This is a great trail - shaded, not busy, well maintained with a wide path. The only drawback is the number of road crossings - there are many, but all but two are not busy so normally do not slow you down that much.
The Butler end has a nice parking lot and restrooms.
The path goes through Belleville which is a pretty little town. When riding this path before, we stopped for breakfast there at a small diner in town which was nice. On another ride here, we stopped for ice cream which is right off the trail - very good!
We stopped at Lexington (the trail continues to Mansfield) this day. There is a bike shop and the Lexington stop. We had lunch at Bucks which is a couple of blocks from the bike shop to the right. I had a greek salad - very good. This is a busy street so I walked which was not a big deal.
The path has some very nice rock formations about midway between Belleville and Lexington.
A mix of country and urban. The Mansfield area of this trail is littered with garbage and graffiti, but the park in Mansfield where the trail ends is very nice. The scenery in a few places is disrupted by chain link fences north of Lexington. The southern half of this trail is very nice
Only rode Belleville to Lexington at night. Will update after completing full trail.
Well paved and amazingly scenic. Rode to Mansfield and on into the town proper for lunch before heading back. Most beautiful section is between Lexington and Butler. Looking forward to riding this trial again someday when we are back in Ohio again.
We ride this trail whenever we are in the Mansfield area. One of the prettiest rides in Ohio. We especially like the section between Lexington and Butler. There is only one major road crossing and there are places to stop and explore in Butler, Bellville, and Lexington. Lexington has a small, but good, bike shop right on the trail. Butler has the Wiffle Stop restaurant with great homemade pies.
The trail itself is very well maintained asphalt. One day we rode there was a lot of debris from a strong thunderstorm. The very next day the debris had been cleaned off by a trail maintenance person. There are plenty of people using the trail but it doesn't feel crowded. Restrooms and water are available in all the towns along the way.
The trail is very quiet considering gong through a city and passes through some marshes with some great bird viewing. Its not too heavily used and when you get into some serious bike work its fairly clear. Like to start in Mansfield and have lunch in Lexington where there is a bike shop if necessary. Enjoyed this trail.
Rode on a Thursday morning (about 9:00), starting from the North Lake Park Trailhead. There is a very nice footbridge that takes you from the parking area over a stream (Toby Run) to the trail. The trail itself is well maintained and has a lot of tree cover, especially on the north end; so if it's a hot day, the cover provides ample shaded riding. The numerous bridges that the trail uses to cross streams & rivers are paved with concrete. The transition between the trail asphalt and bridge concrete is very even. We didn't feel the transition on our road bike (tandem). The Stoker was very pleased. There is a bike shop in Lexington adjacent to the trail in case you need supplies, repairs or just snacks. The Butler end has a convenience store nearby. Although the North Lake Park end is in Mansfield, there is no place nearby (within 1/2 mile) to get food.
Note: Google maps shows the trail to be longer than it really is.
I was confident I could ride the entire length of the trail, but my wife wanted to go with us and I was not sure about her. The trail was one of the easiest rides I've done, from the level ground, to great shape of the pavement, to the awesome canopy that serves as a great wind block. My wife was able to finish the ride in pretty good shape and the scenery kept her interested for the entirety. I'd recommend this trail to anyone from a novice to an expert.
Rode the entirety of the trail in September 2013. Parked at the Depot in Bellville, road to the Butler endpoint, biked the length of the trail to the Mansfield endpoint, then returned to Bellville.
Going north from Butler to Lexington, most of the trail has been repaved and is in tremendous condition. The trail from Lexington to Mansfield has a few more bumps, but is generally quite smooth.
There are some open areas where wind can be somewhat of a challenge, but most of the trail is tree-covered.
If you are looking for good food, Der Dutchman is just off the trail near the I-71 overpass, and has very good Amish food.
We are seniors and have only been cycling for two years, and this was the longest trail we've attempted. It was delightful.
We started at the trail head in Butler, beginning with a light meal at The Whiffletree, a local eatery that is worth a stop even when not cycling! At the north end, in Mansfield, we walked our bikes up an access path to Park Ave. W, (Rt. 430) for a bit of a rest and refreshment at another local eatery. We had to cross a 4 lane highway, but there was a traffic light, so no problem.
The countryside was lovely, as we meandered between corn fields, skirted along the edge of creeks and rivers, admired some exposed rock from long ago blasting, and of course, the woods and small towns. The converted old train station in Bellville was clean and much appreciated. Benches were placed here and there throughout the trail, sometimes reminding us of others who have passed on.
We were wise to start at Butler when our legs were fresh and could handle the slight uphill grade with no problems. Returning on the downhill grade was gratifying.
The only drawback to the entire ride was the large number of road crossings.
I went on a Wednesday and started from Mansfield. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because of the unsafe area to park at the beginning of the trail.The park at the beginning of the trail did not look like a safe place to leave the car so I flagged down a policeman who recommended parking at the corner of Home and Marion. That made it a little more that a 15 mile ride. I really liked this trail because of the scenery and the little towns along the way. The asphalt was in good shape and in the beginning of the ride someone had marked where there were bumps with white paint - thank you to whoever took the time to do that. I stopped a few places to take pictures, pick up water and use the restrooms and everyone was very friendly. I would definitely do this trail again in the fall to see the leaves changing. And there are so many other things to do in this area like seeing the Mansfield Reformatory where the movie Shawshank Redemption was made and other areas where various scenes were made. Malabar Farm is close by where Louis Bromfield owned a farm where Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart got married. Kingwood Center in Mansfield is a beautiful home and garden that can be toured. Mohican State Park is also nearby to canoe, etc. This is a beautiful part of Ohio.
Very near the trail in Bellville is Wade Botanical Gardens. Leave the trail at Dill/Gatton Rocks Road. It's at the top of the hill. There are a few picnic tables so we brought a light lunch in our bike bags to enjoy the place. A collection of hundreds of hosta are featured in the shade garden and hundreds of daylilies bloom in July in the sunny garden. THere is no admission fee. This is also the site of Wade and Gatton Nursery and has a bathroom. Worth a stop if you are both a gardener and a bike rider.
Visiting in Mansfield, I discovered the Gorman Nature Center -- beautiful and nice hiking -- and the Richland B&O trail. I'm used to Ozark's hiking so the paved, relatively level B&O sounded like a distance challenge. The flora and fauna were wonderful and with a few short rests and a couple of sandwiches, lots of water, and some fruit... Well, I was sorry to reach the end -- but I did have an hour to traipse around Butler, pick up another apple, and watch the traffic while waiting on my ride. And slept well that night!
I rode from Mansfield to lucas and back today, Wed April 18, 2012. The pavement on the trail is in good condition and there were several riders out on this beautiful sunny day. I stopped at the I71 and Rt. 97 exchange for lunch at Wendy's on my way. This trail is great especially after the Lexington stop heading toward Lucas. There are few places where you have to stop and you can really make good time. I averaged 18 MPH going to Lucas and 17 MPH coming back. Belville is a nice place to stop. I had a sub a few weeks ago at Fast Eddie's Pizza and it was very good. This trai is good for all types of riders and the only negative is that near Mansfield you encounter a lot of people walking with dogs and you need to be careful that one doesn't run in front of you.
It’s been a few years since I rode this trail. Myself and two friends rode the trail yesterday. I thought I would give an update.
We decided to ride the full length of the trail and started at North Lake Park in Mansfield. We found the trailhead with no problem. Despite it being a Sunday there was no one at the trailhead. We found this funny. Later we encountered other riders on the trail who said that North Lake Park did not have the best reputation and most folks start at the next trailhead south. I don’t recall the name but there were plenty of cars there. The park was not in the best of condition but I didn’t feel unsafe. It probably is advisable to start at the other trailhead or even start in Butler and cycle north.
This trail is in great shape. It is just as an enjoyable ride south from Mansfield as the southern sections were from my prior ride. The trail is mostly shaded. The pavement in excellent condition. What is nice about this trail is that there is a village or small town every 5 miles. That gives you good dining options. We chose to eat this time in Butler at the small restaurant at the trail end. It was a typical small town Ohio diner with down home comfort food.
It was sad to see the antique shop, restaurant and ice cream parlor closed in Bellville. Another nice dining option is the Amish restaurant at I-71. The bike shop in Lexington is worth a stop. They are reasonable and accommodate cyclists with a picnic table and plenty of bike racks.
This trail is definitely worth a trip to ride. You ride along a river most of the way and in the woods. The small towns are friendly. The other cyclists you pass are also friendly.
It was a cool late summer Sunday morning when we left the Butler trailhead. It’s a little hard to find. It’s just off Rt. 97 behind the BP on Elm Street (the only traffic light in town). There is a nice clean restroom, picnic area and a small park. Across the street is a small family restaurant. Gauging the cars in the parking lot, it must be pretty good.
Our destination was Lexington, 11 miles to the northwest. The grade is gentle but uphill to Lexington. That made for an easy ride back to Butler in the afternoon. The trail was mostly shaded and in very good condition. The pavement was unique in that it was lined like a regular highway. The Rt. 97 intersection just north of Butler is very busy. Make sure you look both ways.
We entered Bellville about 5 miles north after cycling along several farms. Take some time to take pictures on the steel bridge on the southern edge of Bellville. The Clear Fork River is quiet nice in that area. Bellville is a quaint small Ohio village. There is a nice trail rest area a block off of Main Street. It was clean with nice bathrooms. There is a nice antique shop, café coffee shop and ice cream parlor adjacent that is well worth the stop.
Continuing our journey north, the trail was a little less shaded as it paralleled Rt. 97. Just south of the I-71 underpass, Rt. 97 crosses the trail. There is a blind spot coming from the south since the road makes a near 90 degree turn at the trail.
The ride into Lexington is relatively uneventful, more farms and forests. You enter Lexington along side the water treatment plant. A very nice bicycle shop is at the Rt. 42 intersection in downtown Lexington. We ventured a mile north and then turned around.
On our way back to Butler, we took a 1/4 mile detour to the Dutch Heritage Amish Restaurant at the I-71 Rt. 97 exit. There is a paved country road just south of the I-71 underpass and north of the Rt. 97 crossing. It is a much safer route to the restaurant dropping you right at the restaurant’s door. A large bicycle rack is on the expressway side of the building adjacent to the miniature golf course. The food was decent and it had a small market with cheese, pastries and Amish style snacks. The salad bar is amazing and worth the stop.
It was downhill back through Bellville into Butler. We saw a lot of late summer, early autumn flowers in bloom. This trail in edged by numerous buckeye trees over most of its length. It is a pleasant ride with a gentle grade. What makes it nice is that there are small towns spaced 5-6 miles apart along its length. Each one had clean rest rooms, restaurants, and convenience stores. It’s worth a visit if you want to see some typical mid Ohio landscape at its best.
Our trip started in Butler and ended in Mansfield. This is an uphill ride to Mansfield which we prefer on the way out then you have an easier ride on the way back.
Enjoyed the trail on this hot and steamy day! (6-26-09) It had stormed the night before knocking a tree down on the trail. You were able to lift the bikes over the branches and continue on the trail. We were very surprised to see the tree cleared on our return trip. Thanks for taking such great care of the trail.
Very nice facility in Belllville - restroom, picnic table, drinking fountain. It looks like an Ice Cream Shop is due to open across the street from the bike trail.
As of this date the following Geocaches can be found along this trail: GC1H8D3; GCKPPD; GC11813; GCXJKJ; GC1DWKJ; GC1181M; GC17MBG (50 feet off trail); GC17HY1 (50 feet off trail).
Campground right on the bike trail - River Trail Crossing . We didn't camp at this campground but the next day we drove over to check it out looked very nice. Their website says primitive to full-hookup sites available. If we come back this way we'll definitely stay there. Location: N40 35.919 W82 26.634
"This is a very nice trail. The pavement is in great shape. There are good access points, although I would suggest the southern areas of Bellville and Butler as places to access the trail since the Mansfield end is a bit tricky to get to and the trail in Mansfield runs behind many busineses and over road crossings.
The trail opens up heading south, following roads and, generally, through open land, with minimal trees, etc. I have never seen a congestion problem.
Overall, I recommend the trail. It was an enjoyable ride!"
"This trail is a pleasure to ride. I highly recommend it. The pavement is in excellent condition, and the trail features convenient access points (in Butler, Belleville, Lexington, and Mansfield) with sufficient parking. Services are available in each town and there is even a bike shop along the trail in Lexington.
Since it is in a primarily rural part of the state, the trail is not highly congested. There are more road crossings at the northern end, between Lexington and Mansfield, than at the southeast end. The most tricky crossing is at Rt. 13 in Bellville; a light is needed due to poor sightlines."
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