CIRCLEVILLE — The Pickaway County Park District has opened its newest trail, the Richards River Trail, which will connect several smaller trails near Canal Park.
The trail follows along the Scioto River for about 2.5 miles, connecting at one end to The Pickaway Trail and the Connector Trail at the other. The new trail is part of a system of trails that connects to Canal Park, Wetland Trail and Towpath Trail, which follows the old canal and Canal Road.
The land for the trail is owned by Bill Richards and encompasses some of his farmland. Richards and the Park District have an agreement for an easement to let the public use the dike as a trail.
“I’ve had a long term philosophy and goal that we need to let people see how commercial agricultural can be compatible with wildlife, with birds and with all kinds of things that’s good for the environment,” he said. “A lot of people think farmers are the enemy but farmers have an awful lot to share and that people can learn. That’s one of the beauty of the trail.”
Richards said he wants to share that beauty.
“We saw eagles and osprey down near the trail and that’s something that we’d like everybody to see,” Richards added. “Welcome to the trail and use it.”
Tom Davis, executive director for the Pickaway County Parks District, gave a brief history of how the trail came to be. Richards first showed him the trail in 2014 after he joined the Park District but said nothing happened due to a lack of funding. However, all that changed after the Pickaway County Parks levy passed.
“We didn’t have many resources to take care of many things,” he said of that time. “In 2017 we were fortunate that the Park levy passed and we finally in 2018 got some money. We were fortunate to look at what we can do for the people of Pickaway County.”
Davis said as part of their levy promises, they would look to add more parks and trails and the addition of the Richards River Trail is one such piece to that promise.
“It was probably 2018 after the levy passed Richards and I were came out down here and he drove me down through the trail,” Davis remarked. “He told me this was like heaven right here. You can look out on the trees, the park and the Scioto River. He told me that he wanted to share it with the rest of Pickaway County and I said I would too.”
Davis said they worked on an agreement for a year with the Richards family to allow the Park District to have the trail.
“In 2018 they moved more dirt and planted grass seed and we all thought this would be the year to do it,” Davis continued. “We got the agreement in place in December and here we are today.”
Tim Wilson, executive director for the Pickaway County Visitors Bureau, said it was an exciting day for the community.
“We want to share this trail with people and expand their offerings with parks and trail,” Wilson noted. “Central Ohio is growing and approximately 25 percent of people spend between $17 and $18 locally when they visit a trail. There are 700,000 people visiting Pickaway County, and it’s growing so you can imagine the impact it will have. Aside from those obvious benefits a healthy community is a happy community and vibrant community. Increasing these types of outdoor activities, letting people get outside to enjoy nature is super important.”