Whenever Tom and I visit my parents we like to ride the Baltimore and Ohio Bike Trail that runs through Richland County from Mansfield to Butler. The trail is 18.5 miles (one way) of paved asphalt that is kept in very good condition. We rode one day right after a heavy thunderstorm and there was a lot of debris on the trail. The next day we rode again and the trail maintenance person had removed all the debris as well as mowing the shoulder of the trail. There are no potholes or rough patches, even after the terrible winter they had in Ohio this year.
All of the trail is lovely, but our favorite section is from Lexington to Butler, about 11 miles. There is plenty of parking at the trailheads in Lexington, just off I-71, in Bellville, and in Butler. This section of the trail is mostly rural with the trail running through the heart of these three small towns. The Baltimore and Ohio Bike Trail has wonderful shade, which is great for a hot summer day. There are rest areas in each of the towns with restrooms and water.
If you ride the Baltimore and Ohio Bike Trail from Lexington to Butler, you will cross OH 13 and OH 97 but those are the only major road crossings. The other crossings are lanes or county roads with little traffic. The section from Mansfield to Lexington has a lot more busy road crossings, which is why we prefer the southern section. Because you don’t have to stop often for crossings, you can build up some speed on the trail.
The Baltimore and Ohio Bike Trail passes through some typical Ohio farmland. Rolling fields planted with corn, wheat, and beans lie next to old farmhouses and barns. We rode the trail during a time with plenty of rain, so everything was green and lush, including the poison ivy and wildflowers along the trail.
One of the reasons I like the Baltimore and Ohio Bike Trail so much is the wonderful shops and restaurants in the small towns along the trail. Lexington has a couple of pizza places and a good restaurant (Buck’s) less than a mile from the trailhead. There is also a miniature golf course, go-cart track, and batting cages next to Buck’s. The Y-Not Cycle Shop is on the bike trail. Bellville has a couple of nice restaurants downtown, a pizza place that always seems busy (Fast Eddie’s) and a Dairy Barn – these are also within a mile of the trail. Butler has the Wiffletree Restaurant next to the trail which serves up homemade specials and excellent homemade pies every day. I would ride from Lexington to Butler, get a piece of pie at Wiffletree, then ride back!
The Baltimore and Ohio Bike Trail is a wonderful trail in the heart of Ohio. We will continue to ride and enjoy it whenever we visit my parents.