Exercise—we all know we need it. Why not enjoy it? From gorgeous flower gardens to woodland paths to 5K runs, there are plenty of places nearby to take in the beauty of the outdoors during your next workout.
1. Gorman Nature Center, Mansfield
Mansfield's 150-acre nature park includes over five miles of free public trails that are open from dawn to dusk, all year round. Hike, run or walk at your own pace through deciduous forests and grassland prairies while taking in the surrounding ponds, streams and wildlife. The trails are not paved; however, there are no major inclines and the paths are not considered strenuous for the average hiker. Dogs on short leashes (no longer than six feet) are permitted to hike with their owners; plastic baggies for clean-up are available at the beginning of each trail. Bikes and motorized vehicles (with the exception of electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters) are not permitted.
Photo courtesy of Destination Mansfield—Richland County.
2. Richland B&O Bike Trail
Originally a railroad track, this scenic stretch was converted into a public trail in the late 1980s. The 18-mile trail begins at North Lake Park in Mansfield and winds it way south through Lexington, Bellville and Butler. The B&O trail is a paved blacktop and goes through sunny spots, shaded wooded areas and across historic bridges. It's level surface is great for walking, jogging, running, roller skating, rollerblading or riding a bicycle. Dogs with short leashes are permitted. Motorized vehicles (with the exception of electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters) are not permitted. Parking is available in various spots along the trail. This trail is free to use.
Photo courtesy of Kingwood Center Gardens.
3. Kingwood Center Gardens, Mansfield
The history and beauty of Kingwood Center makes it one of Mansfield's most unique attractions. The former estate of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kelley King opened to the public in 1953, a year after Mr. King's death. Since then, the 47-acre estate has been meticulously maintained. Brick paths through the gardens as well as the pebble foot trails through the woods create an easy network of paths that's great for all ages. There are also a few grass paths. Pets are not permitted in the park. Admission is $5 or $2 for pedestrians or bicyclists.
Photo courtesy of Malabar Farm.
4. Malabar Farm, Lucas
This historic farm contains four moderate-level trails as well as short path to the Mt. Jeez overlook. Butternut Trail forms a loop through the forest to a small cave. The Doris Duke Woods Trail circles through the woods. The Jungle Book Trail meanders through lowland areas teeming with undisturbed plants and wildlife. The fourth and longest trail, the Pleasant Valley Bridle Trail, is the only one open to horses as well as foot travelers. This trail features over five miles of scenic views, winding streams and stunning rock formations. Pets are allowed but must be on a leash. Cross country running is permitted. Parking and admission are free.
Photo courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
5. Mohican State Park & Memorial State Forest, Loudonville
Roaming through the beautifully preserved Mohican forests is a great way to spend a summer afternoon. The State Park and State Forest offer one- and two-mile hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty. The Discovery Forest Trail is a two-mile educational trail that's wonderful for kids. Use of the trails is free.
Photo courtesy of The City of Mansfield.
6. Clear Fork Reservoir, Mansfield & Reservoir No. 3, Shelby
The trails at the Clear Fork Reservoir are one of the lesser-known hiking options in the area. Dirt paths along the north side of the lake offer approximately 15 miles of trails through the woods. Dogs on leashes are permitted and there is no entrance fee.
Shelby Reservoir No. 3 offers two public trails: a 3-mile wooded nature trail and a 1.25-mile paved surface surrounding the reservoir.
Photo courtesy of Ohio Bird Sanctuary.
7. Ohio Bird Sanctuary, Mansfield
Bird watchers will love strolling through the trails at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary, which is home to 52 species of breeding bird and migrating species. Four miles of foot trails lead through 90 acres of meadows, marshes, forest and waterside terrain. The Wood Duck Trail, one of the most populated bird habitats, has a wheelchair accessible portion. The trails and Sanctuary are free to visit. Dogs on leashes are allowed on the trails but not near bird enclosures or buildings.
Photo courtesy of the Shawshank Trail.
8. 5Ks, 7Ks, half and full marathons
Running is a great way to get fit. It's also a great way raise funds for some of Richland County's beloved organizations and landmarks. Annual runs include the Kingwood 5K, the Ohio State Reformatory's Shawshank Hustle 7K, Lexington Blueberry Festival 5K & Glow Run and Ontario's Liberty 5K. All of these runs benefit community organizations, parks and local sports teams. Just outside of Richland County are Galion's Pickle Run 5K and the Mohican Trail Marathon.