Fall Leaf Peeping by Rail

The leaves haven’t started to change in Columbus, Ohio– yet, but they will–soon. This morning the air was crisp and cool. Yep, leaf changing conditions are here, and I expect edges of red will appear in a couple of weeks until eventually there will be bursts of color everywhere. If you are interested in optimum leaf peeping, plan a bit a head. Instead of taking a driving trip for fall splendor viewing, consider taking a train. There are several that pass through gorgeous scenery in various parts of the U.S.

Each of these trains I’ve listed specifically mention fall foliage. I’ve picked these because I’ve been to the areas where they are located– not necessarily in the fall, but they are places I’ve enjoyed and recommend. Here is a link to an article that lists oodles more–some I’ve also been to, and others I have not. Who would have thought there is such a bounty of scenic railroads? (The photo is from the Catskill Railroad Web site.)

The Maine Eastern Railroad goes from Brunswick and Rockland along the coast. This means foliage paired with seaside villages and the trimmings that go with fishing boats, and barnacle covered rocks that edge tide pools.

The Fall Foliage Trains in New Hampshire have five options that range from one hour to several. There are several train routes. One involves dinner.

Essex Steam Train and Riverboat in Connecticut meanders along the Connecticut River and through quaint towns. After the train you can join up with a trip on a riverboat.

The Berkshire Scenic Railroad in Massachusetts has a specific Fall Foliage Tour, and also has a museum.

In New York, the Catskill Mountain Railroad runs a Leaf Peeper Special. This is a simply gorgeous part of the state.

In Maryland, the Walkersville Southern Railroad has fall foliage tours every weekend in October. This train has vintage cars that date to the 1920s. You can also opt to ride on a flatbed car.

Bluegrass Scenic Railroad & Museum in Versailles, Kentucky has fall foliage tours in October. I have quite the fondness for this part of Kentucky.

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s foliage tours in North Carolina are in October. This caught my attention. There’s an Oktoberfest Beer train on October 6.

Here’s one I have been on. The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad in Boone, Iowa is run by the Iowa Railroad Historic Society. The first weekend in October is the Pumpkin Patch Train where going to a pumpkin patch is part of the ride.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad not far from Cleveland, Ohio is one I’ve always wanted to take. I’ve written about it several times, but by the time it’s the fall foliage season, I forget to make reservations and put it on my list of things to do next year.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that runs between Durango and Silverton, Colorado is a gem. I’ve been on it and the scenery during any season is grand.

Steam Engine Fun

Two summers ago I thought it would be neat to go on the Last Chance Train Tour of Helena, Montana. The pictures of the brochure looked like it was a real historic train. Evidently, I wasn’t looking at that brochure all that closely because the train had rubber wheels–plus it was on a road. It was a tram that looked like a train–sort of. A few days before the tour, I did discover my stupidity but we went on the tour anyway since we’re not all that picky. Plus, my son was three- years-old at the time and my dad was with us. There’s no way we could have covered all that ground or learned as much by walking.

Although I mistook that tram for a train, I have been on historic train tours. There were tracks. The most spectacular of the these trips was The Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train that goes between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. This train has made this particular journey through the mountain passes for more than 125 years. My trip was the one-way trip from Silverton back to Durango, but a two-way trip is probably more common. Silverton is worth poking around for a few hours. It’s a western town that looks western and less busy than Durango.

I’ve also taken the Boone & Scenic Railroad in Boone, Iowa. This train has been around since 1893. Along the way, the conductor points out landmarks and tells about the area history. At the time my son was a year and a half and we were visiting friends. This was a great way to kick back for a few hours without wondering when we’d get somewhere.

Last summer, I took my kids on a very sweet, short train ride. It wasn’t a train, really, but a trolley. It is historic and it runs on tracks. The Platte Valley Trolley is operated soley by volunteers. The first day we tried to take this trip, there wasn’t anyone to drive the trolley so we went back the next day. A huge REI store is right near the trolley station, so if you’re looking to pick up some travel or sports gear, stop in.