The Most Picturesque Train Rides During Autumn Foliage in the USA

As the best performance of the season begins to play in your train window, reserve a seat and unwind.

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

This time of year, we all yearn to sit on a train seat and idly watch the trees pass by as they display their red, gold, and orange foliage. We yearn for a Hallmark moment with the trees, the sky, and the gentle rocking of the train as the season comes to an end and the weather gets colder. Sighhhh. So, should you plan a trip to a fall foliage train excursion if there isn’t one available close to you? The answer is yes, but we are unable to advise you on what to do. Enjoy the grandeur of Mother Nature’s yearly work of art by treating yourself. the train, take it!

Best American train tours to see fall foliage

Amtrak Vermonter | St. Albans, VT

Image: Courtesy of Amtrak

1. St. Albans, Vermont, Amtrak Vermonter

This daily route starts in St. Albans, not far from the Canadian border, and travels through some of the best and most abundant foliage in the country. Even so, if you want, you can board it at any of the additional 10 Vermont stops and travel through an additional seven states before arriving in Washington, D.C. Stop in Montpelier to visit a sugar shack and learn how maple syrup is made, or get off in Waterbury to visit the Cold Hollow Cider Mill and grab a hot, freshly baked cider doughnut from the bakery line. View charming towns tucked into the Green Mountain State’s forested hills as you travel.

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

Image courtesy of the Minnesota Transportation Museum


2. St. Paul, Minnesota-based Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway

The St. Croix River, one of only eight rivers designated as National Wild and Scenic Rivers by the U.S. government in 1968, is visible during the 1.5-hour Fall Colors ride as you take in the fall foliage in the St. Croix River Valley. In the neighboring Wisconsin city of Osceola, pick up your boarding passes. Look for one of the many seasonal apple orchards and pick-your-own pumpkin patches in the area when you get off the train.

Mount Washington Cog Railway | Mount Washington, NH

Courtesy of Mount Washington Railway Company, the image


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

It’s a big deal that Mount Washington is so steep that cars that reach the summit receive bumper stickers bragging about the accomplishment. The journey there by rail is also breathtaking, passing through three different climates to reach a height of 6,288 feet (where you’ll also see a memorial to a young woman who perished in 1855 after being left exposed near the summit during a storm in September). You can choose between a specially built biodiesel train or a seasonal coal-fired steam locomotive at The Cog, the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world. Both trips take three hours roundtrip (or you can opt for a shorter trip that doesn’t go to the top). Best of all, before leaving, you can confirm plenty of ochre and gold foliage on the CogCam live webcam!

Colebrookdale Railroad | Boyertown, PA

Featured Image: Colebrookdale Railroad


4. Boyertown, Pennsylvania’s Colebrookdale Railroad

You can visit Secret Valley in Pennsylvania’s lush and fragrant color displays by taking the train called Autumn Splendor Fall Foliage. You can ride just to see the foliage, but you can also upgrade your ticket to include wine tasting. While the Garden Cafe Car is ADA compliant and has a lovely hanging garden vibe, the dining car is referred to as a “rolling Edwardian party” with white glove service. Additionally, there are open-air vehicles for soaking up the best autumnal scents, plush coach options, and a first-class lounge where you can eat tapas and small appetizers.

Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad | Unity, ME

Image from Shutterstock


5. Unity, Maine-based Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad

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

Southern Michigan Railroad Society | Tecumseh, MI

Image from Shutterstock


6. Tecumseh, Michigan Southern Michigan Railroad Society

The two-hour Fall Colors Tours ride travels through stunning Michigan foliage, stopping at Clinton Station halfway through for a cup of freshly made apple cider. Board in Tecumseh’s downtown and unwind while taking in the wonders of the county’s northern forests. This nonprofit’s railroad crews try their best to coordinate their schedule with the best possible views of the fleeting but gorgeous foliage. The Fall Colors Tours tickets have not yet been made available as of the time of this writing; for updates, visit the website and Facebook page.

Mt. Hood Railroad | Hood River, OR

Image from Shutterstock


7. Hood River, Oregon’s Mt. Hood Railroad

The Hood River Valley Train Excursion takes you through breathtaking autumnal scenery at this time of year, despite not necessarily being referred to as a “Florida train.” You will ride along the Hood River’s lower main fork for 2.5–3 hours before tackling a three percent grade that includes one of the country’s last five switchbacks. You have a 45-minute layover where you can buy lunch or pack a picnic. You get dramatic glimpses of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak, as you train along.

Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads | Meredith, NH

Image from Shutterstock


8. Meredith, New Hampshire’s Hobo, and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads

The Fall Foliage Special is a seasonal train that runs in late September and early October even though this company offers a number of train tours. This four-hour roundtrip journey travels through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, past Winona Lake and Lake Waukewan, where the lake waters reflect the surrounding foliage. After a few stops, you stop in Plymouth for a hot buffet lunch at a historic inn before starting the return trip with a stop at the station’s restored Ashland, where staff members are dressed in period garb. The windows in coach, first, or president’s class can slide open so you can take pictures or just breathe in the wonderful aroma of autumn. Bonus: Throughout October, this railroad runs Thanksgiving dinner trains!

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway | Blue Ridge, GA

Lifestyle photography


9. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Blue Ridge, Georgia

Starting at an old train depot in the center of Blue Ridge, you’ll travel for four hours roundtrip along the Toccoa River, stopping for a break before entering the forest with its colorful autumnal displays. Two charming towns are included in the layover: McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. They are situated on either side of the Blue Line, allowing you to straddle both states at once in an Instagram-worthy pose. Fun fact: It was said that the conductor could light his cigar by leaning out of the window of the caboose and getting a flame from the engineer at the front of the train during an earlier track arrangement that involved a horseshoe-shaped curve that was so tight.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad | Peninsula, OH

Image from Shutterstock


10. Peninsula, Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

The Fall Flyer ride has been discontinued for 2023, but you can still travel along the same route on the National Park Scenic train, which provides a complete view of the park’s autumnal foliage. A leisurely two-hour excursion will be taken in a vintage rail car. Nearly 33,000 rural acres of open farmland and dense forests along the Cuyahoga River make up the park. The only national park in Ohio is this one. Bonus: As you drive along, you might see eagles, deer, beavers, and herons.