Hop on Board a Leaf Peeper Express

Check out one of NH's scenic train rides for a truly unique and relaxing foliage experience

Courtesy photo

The Mountaineer

It’s said that you can see some of the most dramatic scenery in the East aboard the Mountaineer as it winds its way through Crawford Notch’s panoramic mountain views, steep ravines, sheer bluffs and cascading brooks and streams.

Formerly known as the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Notch Train, this iconic train was renamed to recapture the tradition and romance of the breathtaking five- to five-and-half-hour rail journey through the Mount Washington Valley and over the rugged Crawford Notch. It’s beautiful any time of the year, but the route through Crawford Notch is spectacular during fall foliage season.

People have been enjoying the ride for more than a century. The track was laid through the rugged landscape in the 1870s; its construction is considered a remarkable engineering achievement.

Catch the train at the Conway Scenic Railroad station in North Conway Village and travel to Crawford (50 miles in five hours) and Fabyan (60 miles in five and a half hours, fall only) stations, all the while listening to live commentary about the history and folklore of the railroad, the area and points of interest.

The Mountaineer consists of 1950s-era passenger cars that recreate the experience of a post-World War II Transcontinental streamlined train. Choose from a variety of different experiences including premier class travel in the deluxe Rhonda Lee upper dome dining car.

Book an excursion here.

Mount Washington Cog Railway

The Mount Washington Cog Railway, the world’s first mountain climbing cog train, ascends to the 6,288 foot summit of the highest peak in the Northeast against a backdrop of fall foliage, leaving Marshfield Base Station behind. Courtesy photo

For another unique experience, consider viewing fall’s splendor atop Mount Washington by taking the Cog Railway to the top of the mountain. On a clear day, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Canada and even the Atlantic Ocean from the summit.

The round-trip takes about three hours, including a one-hour visit atop the mountain, and trains depart daily from the base station. Depending on the day, there are between two and ten train departures with a fleet of six steam and four biodiesel trains.

Visit here for pricing, dates and departure times.

Visit here for a look at the history and technology of The Cog.

Hobo Railroad’s Harvest Time Express

If you’re looking to combine a foliage trip with a fall fun experience, then head to the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln from mid-September through late-October. Riders on the Harvest Time Express will enjoy an 80-minute train ride along the winding Pemigewasset River and can then enjoy the Farm Yard with life-sized scarecrows, an antique tractor display, farmyard games and pumpkins for purchase.

For pricing, dates and departure times, visit hoborr.com.

Fall Foliage Trains

Explore the Lakes Region on a beautiful foliage train ride aboard the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad. The popular 4-hour ride departs the Meredith station and proceeds north where it travels up and over Ashland Summit. Then, the train crosses the Ashland High Trestle, passes through the Bonnie Brae Deer Farm and the Glove Hollow Christmas Tree Farm in Bridgewater before arriving in Plymouth. Once in Plymouth, guests can step off the train and gather in the dining room of The Common Man to enjoy a tasty, hot buffet lunch. Following lunch, the train heads to historic Ashland and then back to the Meredith station.

More foliage train ride options

Visit foliagetrains.com for additional opportunities, pricing, dates and departure times.

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Photo by Marshall Hudson

Scenic RailRiders

For an alternative way to see foliage, but sticking with the rail theme, check out Scenic RailRiders in Concord. This family-owned company started in 2019 and has quickly gained popularity by rail fans of all ages. Instead of taking a train ride on the rails, “passengers” can take a rail-bike tour and pedal their way along the last remaining section of the Northern Railroad track, which was built in 1846. The RailRiders tour covers woods, farmlands and along the Merrimack River from just south of 2nd Street in Concord to Commercial Street in Boscawen. Options include a 2.4 mile round trip southern leg and a 4 mile round trip northern leg.

Visit scenicrailriders.com for more information.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the Scenic RailRiders, check out this story from What Do You Know author Marshall Hudson.

Categories: Fall and Foliage