Burke Park mixes small town charm, school athletics, and nature into one great place for a hardy walk, run, or bicycle ride. Located at 120 N. Main St., Bethel, Ohio 45106, it is easy to find, and a pleasure to explore. The park is a nicely landscaped area, full of large trees, an outdoor stage, basketball court, playground, shelters with picnic tables, and a large stone outdoor pavilion that is available to rent. The landscaping includes designer stoneware on the pavilion and pathways. We walked on Sunday, May 21, 2017, at noon, with a temperature of 71 degrees, cloudy, and a brisk wind.
There is parking at the pavilion, and the asphalt trail is just a few steps away. It was in great condition as it circled a school, including the school athletic field. The outer side of the trail ran behind the backs of some stores, an apartment complex, and a road, but there was enough vegetation along the way to keep us from feeling like we were walking in town. There is also an entrance to the trail where it is intersected by a road at the back of the school that goes to the school. At this point there was a sign identifying the trail as a bicycle trail, with no rollerblading allowed, and marked the distance of the trail as 1.3 miles.
As the trail circled back to the park, it veered away from the road, and through a tree-lined stretch with some enormous old trees. It had rained a lot recently, creating pools in the grassy areas, but the trail was dry from beginning to end. We were one of just a few other walkers and one group of bicyclers.
Restrooms: There was a men’s and women’s restroom at the pavilion with one toilet in each, and they were open. There was also one port-a-potty at another location along the trail.
Traffic Noise: Although the trail runs along a road for a stretch, the only traffic noise you can hear is the actual cars on the road. There was no traffic noise in the distance.
Historic Points Of Interest: The grounds for Burke Park were donated in 1923 by Edmund G. Burke, who made his fortune selling real estate (ref: www.clermontcountyhistory.org.) He also donated half a million dollars for college scholarships for local kids, and another half a million dollars to build a local hospital, that eventually became Mercy Hospital. The park was also a Civilian Conservation Corps camp during the 1930s, which was a government program to get young men back to work during the Great Depression. The land reverted to a park in 1937.
Overall Rating: We loved the quaint setting of Burke Park, and easy access to the well-maintained trail. There were benches in a few spots along the trail, as well as some huge bats houses on some trees, and a wide variety of vegetation, giving us plenty of ways to soak up the natural scenery. We were there at a good time, however, and wondered if it was as relaxing when the school sports fields were full of students, or the trees were bare, leaving the backs of stores and other buildings as the only view during some stretches of the trail. All in all, we enjoyed our walk in this charming little park, a refreshing taste of small town Ohio.
Nature enthusiasts Kathy and Greg Pfeiffer challenge parks and trails in the Clermont County area to see which ones are the best walking spots. To be part of their study, the trails have to be part of a park or natural area that is free to the public. If there is a trail or park you would like Kathy to report on, please contact her at email@example.com or by going to her website: www.kathleenpfeiffer.com.