If you are looking for a unique way to take in fall foliage, look no further than one of New England’s many scenic railroads. While these scenic railroads all typically run from late spring through the fall, it is in the fall when the air gets brisk and the colors vivid that the scenic railroad rides take on an almost magical quality.
The various trains throughout New England offer you the opportunity to take in very diverse terrain, but all will provide for a wonderful fall foliage experience – and you don’t have to do the driving…
Connecticut Scenic Railroads
- Essex Steam Train, Essex, CT – The Essex Steam Train provides a 12 mile round-trip excursion through the Connecticut River Valley and is paired with an hour and a quarter ride on a riverboat on the Connecticut River. They also offer a dinner train and a murder mystery train.
- Naugatuck Railroad, Thomaston, CT – The Naugatuck Railroad is operated by the Railroad Museum of New England and provides train rides through Connecticut’s beautiful Naugatuck Valley. They have fall foliage train rides and other theme rides. The trains operate from late April to right before Christmas.
Maine Scenic Railroads
- Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railway, Belfast, ME – The Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railway runs two one-hour trips a day from the Upper Bridge Station in Belfast, Maine to Waldo and back. The train runs on weekends and holidays from late May through Mid October.
- Downeast Scenic Railroad, Ellsworth, ME – The Downeast Scenic Railroad runs a 90 minute 10 mile trip that goes from Ellsworth, Maine, to Ellsworth Falls, to Washington Junction, and then back to Ellsworth. Along the way you will see wetland marshes, river and stream crossings, Little Rocky Pond, and Green Lake – all of which make for a wonderful backdrop for fall foliage. Also be on the lookout for the wildlife including bald eagles, bears, beavers, blue herons, deer, osprey and moose. The railroad runs two trips per day on Saturdays and Sundays through the season that runs from Memorial Day Weekend to Columbus Day Weekend.
- Maine Eastern Railroad, Brunswick/Rockland, ME – The Maine Eastern Railroad will take you through the mid-coast region of Maine past picturesque seaside villages and along Maine’s coast from Rockland to Brunswick. In the fall, beautiful fall foliage adds to the already wonderful scenery. The trip takes about 2 hours one-way.
Massachusetts Scenic Railroads
- Berkshire Scenic Railway, Lenox, MA – The Berkshire Scenic Railway used to provide two excursions: A 90 minute, 20 mile round trip from Lenox through Lee to Stockbridge and back; and a 45 minute, 10 mile round trip excursion to Lee and back. However, the owner of the tracks over which the Berkshire Scenic Railway operated, the Housatonic Railroad, has chosen not renwe trackage rights so there are no longer any train excursions. The museum and grounds will be open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM weekends and Federal holidays from late May through mid-October.
- Cape Cod Central Railroad, Hyannis, MA – The Cape Cod Central Railroad provides a narrated scenic train running from Hyannis through cranberry bogs, woodlands, and marshes to the Cape Cod Canal. They also offer brunch, lunch, and dinner trains. Trains run from late May through late October.
New Hampshire Scenic Railroads
- Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train, North Woodstock NH – The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train is a wonderful way to combine fine scenery with fine cuisine. It leaves in the late afternoon allowing for wonderful sunset scenery viewing, and is equipped with 6,000 watts of halogen floodlights to illuminate the outside scenery when the sun goes down.
- Conway Scenic Railroad, North Conway, NH – The Conway Scenic Railroad leaves from the the 1874 Victorian station in North Conway Village. The Valley Train provides 5 departures daily allowing you to enjoy the scenery of the Mount Washington Valley. The Notch Train departs once a day for a five hour excursion through Crawford Notch. Along the way you will see bluffs, ravines, brooks, streams, mountain vistas, and much more. Both make for spectacular fall foliage trips.
- Hobo Railroad, Lincoln, NH / Winnipesaukee Railroad, Meredith, NH & Weirs Beach – The Hobo Railroad and the Winnipesaukee Railroad provide fall foliage trains that leave from Lincoln, Meredith, and Weirs Beach. There are multiple trips running from early September to late October.
- Mount Washington Cog Railway, Bretton Woods, NH – The Mount Washington Cog Railway will give you a different view of fall foliage from above the clouds looking down on nature’s splendor.
- White Mountain Central Railroad, Lincoln, NH – The wood burning, steam driven locomotive of the White Mountain Central Railroad takes you on a 30 minute, 2 1/2 mile, journey through a 1904 Howe-Truss railroad covered bridge and along the Pemigewasset River.
Rhode Island Scenic Railroads
- Old Colony & Newport Railway, Newport, RI – The Old Colony & Newport Railway provides a scenic 80 minute, 10 mile round trip through Naval Station Newport, and the East shore of Narragansett Bay.
Vermont Scenic Railroads
- Green Mountain Railroad, White River Junction, VT – The Green Mountain Railroad’s White River Flyer departs Union Depot in White River Junction and travels to the Pompanoosuc Mills in East Thetford stopping at the Montshire Museum along the way. The Flyer will provide you with views of the Connecticut River, the White Mountain foothills and a wildlife sanctuary. Be sure to bring your camera. The train ride is an hour long each way.