Best Fall Foliage Train Rides in the USA

The best show of the season will start to play in your train window as you reserve a seat. Check out the list of the best fall foliage train rides in the USA that offer stunning autumnal hues.

An orange and purple train crosses over a small but rapid river, against a backdrop of vivid foliage.

This time of year, we all want to curl up on a train seat and idly observe the trees as they pass by while sporting red, gold, and orange foliage. We long for a Hallmark scene with the trees, the sky, and the soft rocking of the train as the season comes to an end and the weather gets colder. Sighhhh. Do you need to make travel plans for a fall foliage train excursion if there isn’t one close by? The answer is yes, but we can’t tell you what to do. Treat yourself and take in the splendor of Mother Nature’s yearly work of art. Take the train!

American train tours to see the best fall foliage

Amtrak Vermonter | St. Albans, VT

1. Amtrak Vermonter, St. Albans, Vermont

Starting in St. Albans, close to the Canadian border, this daily route passes through some of the best and most abundant foliage in the country. However, you can board it at any of the other 10 Vermont stops, ride it through another seven states, and eventually arrive in Washington, D.C. if you so choose. Visit a sugar shack in Montpelier to learn how maple syrup is made, or get off in Waterbury to check out Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where you can grab a hot, freshly baked cider doughnut from the bakery conveyor belt. View the charming towns of the Green Mountain State tucked into the forested hillsides as you travel.

Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway | St. Paul, MN

2. Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway, St. Paul, Minnesota

The St. Croix River is one of only eight rivers that the U.S. government designated as a National Wild and Scenic River in 1968. During the 1.5-hour Fall Colors ride, you can take in the fall foliage in the St. Croix River Valley as well as views of the river. In the neighboring city of Osceola, Wisconsin, pick up your boarding passes. Look for one of the many apple orchards and pick-your-own pumpkin patches open nearby during the appropriate season when you get off the train.

Mount Washington Cog Railway | Mount Washington, NH

3. Mount Washington Cog Railway in Mount Washington, New Hampshire.

Since Mount Washington is so difficult to climb, cars that reach the summit are awarded a bumper sticker boasting about their accomplishment. A marker honoring the 1855 death of a young woman who perished near the summit, exposed during a September storm, can be found there. The rail ride up there is also a breathtaking journey through three climate zones to reach 6,288 feet. The Cog is the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world, and it offers a three-hour roundtrip on either a specially built biodiesel train or a seasonal coal-fired steam locomotive (or you can opt for a shorter trip that doesn’t go to the top). The CogCam live webcam may be the best feature of all, allowing you to confirm plenty of ochre and gold foliage before leaving.

Colebrookdale Railroad | Boyertown, PA

4. Colebrookdale Railroad, Boyertown, Pennsylvania

You can visit Pennsylvania’s Secret Valley’s lush and fragrant color displays by taking the train called Autumn Splendor Fall Foliage, which is aptly named. You have the option to add wine tasting to your ticket or just ride for the fall foliage. The dining car is referred to as a “rolling Edwardian party” that receives white-glove service, while the Garden Cafe Car is ADA-compliant and has a lovely hanging garden vibe. As well as deluxe coach options, tapas, and light hors d’oeuvres are available in the first-class lounge, and open-air cars where you can enjoy the best fall scents and open-air cars.

Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad | Unity, ME

5. Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad | Unity, Maine

Select from a 1- or 1.5-hour Fall Foliage Train ride that travels through the kaleidoscopic woods past Unity Pond, onto the Sebasticook Bridge, and then back. A “cider and doughnuts train,” a “Lobster Roll Express,” and a “boxcar book sale” are just a few of the themed rides that are frequently offered on this entertaining, historic rail line. Yes, for a mild $33, you get a train ride and a box lunch that includes a Maine lobster roll. It is a nonprofit, entirely volunteer-run preservation railroad with coaches and open-air cars, and the food is typically regional: apple cider, whoopie pies, and Maine root sodas.

Southern Michigan Railroad Society | Tecumseh, MI

Source: Shutterstock

6. Southern Michigan Railroad Society, Tecumseh, Michigan

A cup of locally produced apple cider is served at Clinton Station halfway through the two-hour Fall Colors Tours ride, which passes through stunning Michigan foliage. Board in Tecumseh’s downtown and unwind while admiring the stunning forested wonders of northern Lenawee County. The railroad crews of this nonprofit make every effort to time their schedule to best take advantage of the fleeting but beautiful foliage. Check the website and the Facebook page for updates; as of this writing, the Fall Colors Tours tickets have not yet been made available.

Mt. Hood Railroad | Hood River, OR

Source: Shutterstock

7. Mt. Hood Railroad, Hood River, Oregon

Even though it isn’t formally known as a “Florida train,” the Hood River Valley Train Excursion takes you through breathtaking autumnal landscapes at this time of year. After traveling along the lower main fork of the Hood River for 2.5–3 hours, you’ll climb a three percent grade that includes one of the country’s last five switchbacks. You can buy lunch or pack a picnic during a 45-minute layover. The tallest peak in Oregon, Mt. Hood, can be seen in dramatic glimpses as you move through the course.

Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads | Meredith, NH

Source: Shutterstock

8. The Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads in Meredith, New Hampshire

Despite the fact that this company offers a number of train tours, the Fall Foliage Special only runs in late September and early October. This four-hour trip includes stops at Lake Waukewan and Winona Lake, where the foliage is reflected in the water and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. After a few stops, you have a hot buffet lunch at a historic inn in Plymouth before starting the return trip with a stop at the restored Ashland station, where the staff is dressed in period attire. With windows that slide open, you can take pictures or just enjoy the incredible autumnal scent while traveling in coach, first class, or President’s class. Additionally, throughout October, this railroad runs turkey dinner trains!

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway | Blue Ridge, GA

Snapshot: Lifestyle Photography

9. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, located in Blue Ridge, Georgia

You will set out from a historic depot in the center of Blue Ridge on a four-hour roundtrip journey along the Toccoa River, stopping for a layover before entering the forest with its colorful autumnal displays. Visits to McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee are part of the layover. Due to their location on either side of the Blue Line, you can even straddle both states at once in an Instagram-worthy pose. Fun fact: According to legend, an earlier track configuration included a horseshoe-shaped curve that was so narrow that the conductor was able to light his cigar by leaning out the window of the caboose and receiving a flame from the engineer at the front of the train.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad | Peninsula, OH

Source: Shutterstock

10. Peninsula, Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

The Fall Flyer ride has been discontinued for 2023, but you can still take the National Park Scenic train, which travels along the same route and provides a complete view of the park’s autumnal foliage. A two-hour leisurely excursion will be taken in a vintage rail car. With dense forests and wide-open farmland, the park’s nearly 33,000 rural acres along the Cuyahoga River. In Ohio, there is only one national park. As you drive along, there’s a chance you’ll see herons, beavers, deer, and eagles.

We hope you enjoyed this virtual tour, and be sure to let us know in the comments which place you’re most excited to visit.

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