The Richland County Park District is dedicated to introducing and interpreting our region's natural history to the citizens of Richland County through free education and public programming. Our goal is pursued by providing recreational and educational opportunities through the protection and preservation of Richland County's natural resources to enhance the quality of life for present and future generations. RCPD operates two main facilities- The Gorman Nature Center and the B&O Bike Trail. RCPD also holds the legal title or conservation easement of several natural areas located along the Clear Fork Valley Scenic Trail (CFVST) encompassing nearly 600 acres of protected natural areas located in the heart of the Clear Fork Valley. RCPD manages these properties through a partnership with the North Central Ohio Land Conservancy (NCOLC). Other RCPD properties include: Cole Road Prairie, Hartmans Woods, Hemlock Falls, Tugend Road Prairie, and coming soon Fleming Falls Nature Preserve.

Gorman Nature Center
Featuring 150 acres of deciduous forests, fields, prairies, ponds and streams, Gorman Nature Center provides over five miles of public hiking trails close to the population centers of Richland County. Families and individuals are welcome on the hiking trails from dawn till dusk or in the facilities visitor center from (9am-3pm) Wednesday-Saturday. RCPD staff naturalists sponsor weekly programs for the public featuring a wide variety of topics ranging from naturalist led hikes, field trips, lectures, workshops, and night sky programs. In addition to public programing, the RCPD offers daily on-site or nature center programs for schools, youth groups, garden clubs, seniors citizens, service clubs, etc.

Gorman Nature Center Rules

The Richland County Park District encompasses many different park properties; however, RCPD staff is based out of Gorman Nature Center located outside of Mansfield, Ohio. Gorman Nature Center is a multi-use recreational park. The Gorman Nature Center is open free to the public Tuesday-Saturday 9am-3pm. GNC pavilion, picnic areas, outdoor restroom facilities, and grounds are open from dawn to dusk for use year round.

If you are planning a large event at GNC, we recommend calling the nature center to confirm with staff that there are no park programs taking place that day. The pavilion cannot be reserved but instead is used on a first come first serve basis. We appreciate and encourage notification of large events at least a week in advance for our scheduling and programming purposes. Please call (419) 884-3764 to notify staff of your special event.

Our conference area is available for use to government agencies and non-profits at the availability of the room and discretion of the park staff. GNC does not rent facilities for weddings, birthdays, or other private events.

For the safety of the flora, fauna, and visitors on RCPD property, help us maintain the ecological integrity of our landscapes and protect our ecosystems by adhering to these park policies on all RCPD properties. These rules help RCPD staff protect sensitive flora and fauna for the preservation and enjoyment of future generations.

  • VANDALISM - No person shall cause serious physical harm to any building, property or equipment owned, leased or managed by the park district.
  • DEFACEMENT, DESTRUCTION, DISTURBANCE AND/OR REMOVAL - No person shall injure, deface, destroy, disturb, or remove any part of a park, including but not limited to, buildings, signs, equipment, trees, flowers, shrubs or other vegetation, fruit or seed thereof, rock, mineral, fossil or archeological artifact, or mammals, birds or any other wildlife whether alive or not.
  • LITTERING, DUMPING, GARBAGE PROHIBITED - No person shall bring into, leave behind, place, or drop any material of any kind in the park, except refuse, ashes or garbage from permitted activities; such materials shall be deposited in receptacles for such purpose. No bottles, cans, refuse or any foreign material of any description shall be deposited or thrown in any stream, waterway, pond or lake in or adjacent to park lands.
  • SEWAGE, NOXIOUS OR HAZARDOUS MATERIALS - No person or corporation shall, either within or outside of the park, place, dump, release, spill or discard onto lands or into any river, stream, brook, ditch, pond or lake any sewage, noxious or hazardous materials which may render park property or waters harmful to public health, animals, vegetation or aquatic life; or which may prevent, limit or interfere with the use of park property.  All sanitary sewage shall receive adequate primary, secondary and tertiary process plant treatment prior to resultant clear effluent entering into park property.
  • POLLUTION - No person or organization shall cause or allow any burning of garbage, refuse, waste material, trash, or any other material within or adjacent to a park so as to cause smoke, odor, sparks, dust, etc. to pass over, through, across the park and cause air pollution, nuisance, or damage.
  • Keep on designated trails. Trails are blazed with markers.
  • Nature trails are for hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing only; no bicycles, horses, or motor vehicles.
  • Pets welcome on leash 6' max.
  • No hunting, trapping, or fishing.
  • No picking of vegetation or mushroom hunting.
  • No wading or swimming for people or pets.
  • No catching, releasing, or feeding of animals on RCPD properties.
  • MOLESTING WILDLIFE - No person within the confines of the park shall pursue on foot or with dogs, use walkie-talkies, radios, planes, or any vehicle, or in any way molest any wild bird or animal or rob nests or dens of eggs or young of any bird or animal.
  • FROG GIGGING - No person within the confines of the park shall engage in frog gigging.
  • Fishing is prohibited on RCPD properties
  • ARCHERY FISHING - Archery fishing is prohibited.
  • TURTLING PROHIBITED - Taking of turtles by any means is prohibited.
  • FEEDING OF WILDLIFE - Feeding of wildlife is strictly prohibited.
  • No open fires permitted on RCPD property grounds except in designated grilling areas.
  • No alcohol or illicit drugs are permitted on RCPD properties.
  • FIREWORKS, EXPLOSIVES - No person shall possess, use, or discharge any type of firework, explosive device, or incendiary device within the parks.
  • ADJACENT LANDS WEAPON DISCHARGE - No person shall discharge any firearm of any description, arrow, or projectile toward park property so as to alarm, endanger, or injure wildlife, property, or persons in the park.
  • ARCHERY - No person shall release an arrow, possess or use archery equipment, arrows, bows, cross bows, or long bows within the parks
  • Please be responsible and adhere to Leave No Trace principals to minimalize your impact.
RCPD Rules and Regulation information is located on signage in the GNC parking area, near the pond, and it is available on GNC trail maps.

Richland County Park District B&O Bike Trail

Come out and enjoy the historic Richland County Park District B&O Bike Trail, part of the public trails that began back in 1983 funded by the US Congress' National Trails System Act. When CSX (formerly Chessie/ B&O) abandoned this track in 1986 the Richland County Park District obtained the right-of-way becoming the 70th Rails to Trails project. 

The Richland B&O trail is a paved 18.4 mile multi-use recreational bike trail open to  bicycling, in-line skating, walking, jogging, and also cross-country skiing in the winter. The trail traverses through some of the most picturesque country scenery located in North Central Ohio connecting the City of Mansfield and villages of Lexington, Bellville and Butler. Multiple parking and bike trail access points are available in each of the communities listed above. The trail is handicapped accessible.

For more information, contact the Richland County Park District at or call 419-884-3764.

Richland County Park District B&O Park Trail Rules

The RCPD B&O Bike Trail is a multi-use recreational trail open to the public daily from dawn to dusk for walking, running, biking, and cross-country skiing. Dogs are permitted on the trail but MUST be on a leash (ORC- 1501:46-3-06 Animal Leash Requirement). If you choose to walk your dog on the trail, please pick up after your pet and make use of one of our many dog waste stations placed throughout the trail. Motorized vehicles and horses are not permitted on the B&O Bike Trail.

RCPD B&O Bike Trail Rules & Regulations

  • Heed all posted signs, rules and regulations
  • Trail use is permitted (year-round) from dawn to dusk
  • Motorized vehicles, buggies and horses are prohibited
  • Electronic personal assistance mobility devices are permitted
  • Dogs are welcome, but must be leashed (short leash preferable)
  • Curb your pet and please remove pet waste
  • Please yield to all maintenance vehicles and volunteer work crews
  • Please do not litter on the trail
  • Please do not remove animals, plants or other natural items from the trail
  • Respect private property and stay on the trail
  • Cyclists should yield to all other users
  • Cycling at high rates of speed is inappropriate for the trail and is prohibited
  • Class 1 and Class 2 E-Bikes as defined by Ohio Law are permitted to be used on the Richland B&O Trail.  Class 3 E-Bikes are NOT permitted. (HB 250, December 2018 - click here at page 16) 
  • Be respectful of all users on the trail

Important Information and Safety Tips
  • Report maintenance needs to: Richland County Park District 419-884-3764
  • If you find yourself in an emergency call 911
  • Bike rentals and repairs available at Y-Not Cycling (Lexington): 419-884-6135
  • Stop, look and listen for all motor vehicle traffic that crosses the trail
  • Always keep to the right except to pass
  • Pass on the left (with caution) and alert users with “On Your Left!”
  • Move off of the trail surface when stopped
  • Cyclists should always wear a helmet
  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Always carry a cell phone
  • Protect your valuables and secure your vehicle in all parking lots
If you are planning a special event such as a fun run or bike race, please notify RCPD staff at least one week prior to the event by contacting or call (419) 884-3764.