Towpath Trail

Richland B & O Trail


The Richland B & O Trail traverses 18.5 miles of former rail corridor from Butler to Mansfield, Ohio in Richland County. [Scroll past 'Trail Facts' to continue reading.]

Bellville
Bellville, OH

Latest Update: 9/19/16 by Scott B. Gerhart - Where are the Trail Rules?

The B&O website does not have any rules stating that horseback riding is prohibited. In fact it does state that some of the trails are shared by many users. Furthermore there are no signs or rules posted at the parking areas in Lexington or Bellville...

[OB: This post is an instructive example of how trails are sometimes managed without sufficient thought given to the visitors' experience. Are horses allowed? Can I ride my electric bike? Are dogs allowed? Rules should be clearly posted on the managing organization's website, as well as the trail or its trailheads.]


Trail Mural Complete; Bench Added - 8/11/16 by OB

From wmfd.com, "A park bench was installed Wednesday on the B&O bike trail under the West Fourth Street bridge [at the new mural] near North Lake Park in Mansfield."

Flashing Stop Signs Near Butler - 6/24/16 by OB

Venturing further south along the trail, I noticed that solar-powered flashing LEDs were also installed at the Rt. 97 road crossing near Butler.

Both 'stop' and 'stop ahead' signs seen from the south (traveling away from Butler) are completely obscured by vegetation. As a result, you cannot see them until you are within a few yards of the signs. This minimizes the impact of the flashing light considerably.

Also, the other crossing with flashing LEDs (R. 97 crossing near I-71) still has only 1 sign with working flashers.

Attempts to Improve Dicey Road Crossing - 6/17/16 by OB

Stop signs with solar-powered flashing LEDs have been installed at the Rt. 97 road crossing south of Rt. 71. It should be noted that only 1 of the signs has working lights at this time.

The 'Stop Ahead' and 'Stop' signs for trail users at this crossing are still woefully obscured by vegetation in both directions. It seems that maintenance crews are adept at mowing and trimming around the signs, but no one is bothering to check them from the perspective of approaching cyclists. As a result, the signs are not plainly visible from a distance.

These trail signs are intended to be seen well in advance, to prevent the possibility of a trail user unknowingly rolling into the path of a moving motorized vehicle at a road crossing. In recent years, routine maintenance (vegetation removal) at this crossing has failed in this regard, contributing to making this one of the most dangerous crossings along the B&O Trail.

Volunteers Needed - 5/3/16 by OB

From mansfieldnewsjournal.com, "Gorman Nature Center is looking for volunteers for the Richland County B&O Trail.

"...Those interested in volunteering should contact Kyle Baily, director of facilities and land management at Gorman Nature Center, at 419-884-3764."

B&O Celebrating 20 Years - 10/11/15 by Nelson Shogren

Richland County, OH - "Get a commemorative sticker while using the trail!

"October is the month in 1995 when the B&O Trail opened for walkers, joggers, skaters and cyclists. Since its creation, it has become a major attraction for visitors to Richland County as well as providing a safe and peaceful setting for local exercise and solace seekers, bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts...

"To mark this event, a commemorative vinyl sticker has been made available through the combined efforts of Richland Moves!, Richland Public Health, Y-Not Cycling and Fitness, and the Mansfield-Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Mansfield Ped Bridge Gets New Signs - 4/6/15 by OB

The pedestrian bridge that accesses the trail in North Lake Park has some new signs.

Walk Bike Sign
Ramp Entrance @ Ped Bridge

The 'Walk-Bike' signs are intended to caution approaching riders that the bridge is not designed for cycling. Collisions with pedestrians or an unexpected ride down a set of stairs are possible for those who choose to ignore the posted warning.

Dangerous Crossings - 10/1/14 by David Grismore

Has anyone else noticed how dangerous the road crossings are on this trail? Especially the one at SR97 near Der Dutchman! There are at least 2 more dangerous crossings, but this one by far is the worst! I've been riding trails for 13 years an I still cringe when thinking about this one.

It crosses in the middle of an s-curve and you can't see very far down the road on the one side because of the tree line,an it probabally wouldn't matter if you could because most of the traffic speeds around this curve. I pray no one gets killed at this crossing and I wish a crossing light could be installed at this location with a pedestrian button.

Great Trail Ride Despite Dicey Crossings - 8/1/14 by Kay B.

Thank you so much for recommending that we park at the Lexington Trail Head. We just got back from riding the entire trail and LOVED it! I just wish it were closer (we're about 1 hr. and 20 minutes away!).

Weather was perfect and the trail in great condition. There were only a couple of intersections that we all thought were a tad dangerous, but as long as you're very careful, no problem!

Suggestions For Trail Improvements - 5/3/14 by Melanie

...The pine trees at Millsboro Road should be cut down. They provide great protection FOR criminals. The brush on the east side of the Rt. 97 parking area should be cleared for the same reason. If cars were more exposed there would be less chance of break-ins.

Also, how about crossings be marked so traffic knows there are cyclists at the Millsboro Road and other areas. I'm on Millsboro often and there is nothing to warn drivers. And, trash cans in the parking areas would be nice. I'm sure there would be less trash along the path.

Here's one that probably is a long shot but I think a great idea. Plant LOTS of vines around the fencing at the sewer plant and Hi-Stat. That is a horrible section to ride by...

Erosion Damage Near Park Avenue - 4/10/14 by Jerry Bradner

While walking the dog yesterday on the trail near park avenue, near the knights of columbus, i noticed a 40' section of fence along the trail on the stream side that had collapsed down the hill.

Bollard Removal Finally Completed - 3/13/14 by OB

The last of the trail bollards that stood directly on the trail surface were removed on Tuesday.

The project to improve trail safety was implemented following the death of Giuseppe (Beppe) Maino in 2012. The cyclist died from injuries he suffered from a trail bollard crash on the trail in Bellville, Ohio.

Trail Specs & Facts:

Location: Richland County, OH

Class: A3++

Length: 18.5 miles / asphalt

Condition: Good

Facilities: In parks at both ends of the trail, and trailside in Bellville and Butler.

Parking: A centrally located lot in Lexington, OH. (See trail map for more options.)

Worth Noting: The B&O Trail was the first in its area to become a bollard-free trail. Learn more about the trail bollard hazard.

Map: Richland B&O Trail

Elevation Map: Riding from North to South

More Trails in this Region: NE OH Trails List

The B & O is primarily a rural rail-trail with short sections through two small towns -- Lexington & Bellville -- and endpoints in Butler and Mansfield, OH.

It offers some changes in scenery along its route: From open farmlands, woods and river crossings to short sections alongside a factory and a former grain station.

The trail takes a northwesterly route out of Butler passing a local campground which is largely out of view, due to the greenbelt of trees and brush that line the trail. But if you look closely after the river bridge crossing, a very short asphalt spur on your left reveals a path to the camping area and the River Trail Crossing Campground.

In Bellville the trail passes within a block or so of the heart of this small town while crossing Main Street (Route 13). Use caution when crossing, particularly when riding southeast. The structure of a nearby bridge partially obscures your view of approaching traffic.

A rest station with restrooms, water, picnic table and bike fix-it stand is available here. As are nearby food and ice cream establishments.

Leaving Bellville, the trail again crosses the Clear Fork Mohican River and 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, a short distance from the I-71 / Rt. 97 interchange.

Kochheiser Rd
Kochheiser Road south of Lexington, OH

Just before the bikeway passes under Main Street (Rt. 42) in Lexington, you'll see the Y-not bike shop on your left at 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 north passing a small lake, before skirting the perimeter of a wetland further north.

After entering Mansfield by 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 along this end of the trail.

At the Park Avenue bridge underpass, there's a paved ramp up to street level. Take the ramp and you'll find the closest trailside food stops along the northern portion of the bikeway.

You'll find mile markers, an occasional bench and a number of parking areas scattered along the way. The rest stations in Bellville and Lexington provide restrooms, water fountains and parking.

The bikeway is mostly flat with a few turns here and there. Elevation gain is minimal but noticeable coming out of North Lake Park, where you're climbing a slight grade. Heading south from Lexington the trail maintains a gradual descent all the way to Butler. But winds have to be favorable to realize this benefit.

There are approximately 18 road crossings, two of which are county highways. Brush is not always cut back throughout the summer season, another reason for caution at all road crossings along this bikeway.

Unfortunately, the B&O Trail has seen its share of tragedies. The most recent of which, was a fatal bollard crash in 2012. After surveying local residents and riders, it was discovered that the bollards had done more harm, resulting in yet another death years earlier, 2 known serious injuries and numerous collisions.

Bollard Removal
Volunteers filling the Hole Left by Center Bollard Removal

In 2014, all center bollards (those placed directly in the middle of the trail surface) were removed from the B&O. In addition, 2 other trail managing groups within the region also removed their solid center trail bollards. Yet another Ohio bikeway has joined the B&O bollard-less movement and constructed their trail, the Tallgrass Trail, using no bollards at all.

But trails that use solid trail bollards remain. For if those communities are not aware of this hazard, or experienced a tragedy yet themselves, they are none the wiser. Learn more about the trail bollard hazard.

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