Richland B&O Trail–OH-97 Parking Lot near I-71
eBird Bar Charts by Season
Ohio Birding Day Hikes
Richland B&O Trail
Tips for birding from the OH-97 Parking Area
Park at the parking area on the west side of OH-97 just south of I-71. Explore the Richland B&O Trail in either direction.
About Richland B&O Trail
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 a new asphalt surface was put down 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.
These two repaving efforts have covered the northern 7.5 to 8 miles of the bikeway and eliminated virtually all the heavily cracked sections. The one exception being a short segment around a factory parking lot in Lexington, just beyond where the repaving ended. Users should be aware of the slight drop off that’s been created on resurfaced portions along the edges of the trail due to the raised surface. Some bumps in the 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 6-8 such spots scattered along the trail.
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 OH-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 OH-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 OH-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 (OH-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.
From Richland B&O Trail (Ohio Bikeways) webpage
Restrooms at locations identified on the B&O Trail map.