The Richland B & O Trail traverses 18.5 miles of former rail corridor from Butler to Mansfield, Ohio in Richland County.
A resurfacing project that began in phases in 2004, was completed in fall 2012 when new asphalt was put down between Lexington and Butler. The work included painting new striping and stop lines along the new surface.
Five center bollards (not at road crossings) were removed from the trail in November 2012 due to safety concerns. Earlier in 2012, three bollard crashes by cyclists resulted in a fatality and two known serious injuries at these bollard locations. [Learn more about the trail bollard hazard.]
The Richland County Parks Board is currently considering removal (and other options) regarding the remaining trail bollards along the trail. They are hosting a public meeting on Nov. 29 for public input on this issue. All users that have concerns/comments regarding this matter are encouraged to participate.
A new asphalt top-coat was applied in September 2007 to portions of the trail extending from just south of Millsboro Road in Mansfield, to the water treatment facility in Lexington, Ohio, a distance of roughly 5 miles. This continued an effort to repave heavily cracked sections that began in 2004 when new asphalt was added from North Lake Park in Mansfield, Ohio, to just south of Millsboro Road.
At that time two areas of the trail were rebuilt to accommodate road construction updates at Home Road and Lexington-Springmill and Lex-Springmill near Hanley Road. The trail was given a new surface in these areas along with a redirected route that allows for better visibility at road junctions. The changes slightly altered the overall trail distance as some bends were added.
Some bumps along the older asphalt surface cropped up in 2009. Most go unnoticed until you ride over them and feel the quivering or slight washboard effect they create. One or two are more pronounced and provide a good jolt if you're riding on skinny tires at speed. As of 2010, there are perhaps 4-5 such spots scattered along the trail between Lexington and Mansfield.
The B & O is primarily a rural rail-trail with short sections through three small towns and the west end of Mansfield. This creates a fairly diverse change in scenery along the trail: From open farmlands, woods and river crossings to short sections alongside a factory and former grain stations.
The trail takes a northwesterly route out of Butler passing a former lumber yard and a local campground before heading out to open countryside.
In Bellville the trail passes through the heart of this small town crossing Main Street, which is Route 13. Use caution when crossing (particularly when heading southeast). The structure of a nearby bridge partially obscures your view of southbound traffic.
A break station with restrooms, water and picnic tables is available here. As are nearby food and ice cream establishments.
Leaving Bellville the trail crosses a river and then briefly passes through a cool wooded spot as it bends northward toward Lexington. You'll cross Rt. 97 and then encounter one more crossroad before passing directly underneath the I-71 bridges. Turn right at the crossroad if you're hungry, as restaurants are close by near the I-71 and 97 interchange. If you go for a bite, be wary of the heavy traffic in this area.
Just before the bikeway passes under Main Street in Lexington (Rt. 42), you'll see a bike shop on your left off of the old at-grade street crossing. The shop is near the mid-point of this bikeway which could prove handy, should you have a mechanical or need a tire or tube. Rentals are also available in season.
The bikeway continues on with brush and tree cover as you head further north passing a small lake followed by a wetland further north. Turning northeastward the bikeway passes Deer Park, a convenient spot for a break. The water fountain is no longer in working order here.
After entering Mansfield and crossing Millsboro Road, the trail begins a slight descent as it passes under a few city street bridges and near Kingwood Center (no access from the bikeway) before ending at North Lake Park. A few emergency call boxes have been installed at this end of the trail. One is located directly at trail's end at North Lake Park. Another is at Millsboro Road while a third call box can be found between those two points along the trail.
Along the bikeway you'll find mile markers, an occasional bench and a number of parking areas scattered along the way. The break stations in Bellville and Lexington provide restrooms, drink machines, water fountains and parking.
A 37-mile round trip ride on the B & O can be fairly challenging on a windy day. However, the vegetation that's flourished trailside since the bikeway's construction now provides more brush and tree cover from stiff breezes than in years past.
The bikeway is mostly flat and with a few squiggly turns here and there. Elevation gain is minimal but noticeable between North Lake Park and Millsboro Road in Mansfield. (Uphill heading south from the park.)
There are approximately 18 road crossings, two of which are county highways where cyclists should use extreme caution. One such crossing claimed the life of a small child several years ago when she pedaled out in front of oncoming traffic. Children should be schooled on trail rules and dangers before hitting the trail. And close supervision in parking lots and at road crossings is always recommended on all trails.
Erosion continues to nibble at the trail bed in a few spots. Despite periodic filling with large stone, these small holes and washouts along the edge of the trail can present a hazard to small children as well.
Length: 18.5 miles - approx. 10' wide
Condition: Good to Excellent (Beware of erosion along the edge of the trail & a raised surface edge along repaved sections.)
Facilities: Restrooms in Butler, Bellville & Lexington just north of the bike shop and new facilities at North Lake Park in Mansfield. The Bellville & Lexington break stations have drink machines and parking. Workman writes: "Brand new large restrooms and drinking water inside new building at North Lake Park in Mansfield. Also new playground area. Area seems to have enough daytime visitors and traffic to be safe parking."
Food: Near the southern end of the trail is the Whiffle Tree Resaurant in Butler. A ice cream stand is just around the corner on Main Street (Rt 97). A few spots on Main St. in Bellville. A famous name fast food roast beef franchise & sub shop within walking distance of the trail in Mansfield: Walk up to street level at the Park Ave. West Bridge & cross back over the bridge. Several places to eat at the I-71/route 97 exchange, just north of the trail parking lot on Rt. 97. No places to eat within easy cycling distance of trail's end at North Lake Park.
Parking: Parking is available at both ends of the trail in Butler & Mansfield. However, one of the most popular spots along the trail is in Lexington off of Rt. 42. (See Lexington Trailhead map.) Turn north on Plymouth St. and continue straight until you see a small trail sign just before Lexington Community Park. Turn right at the sign and follow the road back behind the building. (Should all the spaces be taken, Community Park provides additional parking.) Another popular small lot is within one mile of I-71 (exit 165). Take Rt. 97 south toward Bellville. The lot is on your right just before the trail crosses Rt. 97.
Emergency Call Boxes: 3 along the trail near the Mansfield (North Lake Park) end of the trail.
Bike Shop: Located close to the trail in Lexington, Ohio along Rt. 42 (Main Street). They provide rentals and are usually open early spring through late fall.
Mansfield Lexington Bellville Butler
18.5mi 11.5mi 5.8mi 0mi