The Cog Railway winds through colorful foliage towards the summit of Mt. Washington.Photo Credit : Chris Burnett
Every year during the autumn foliage, visitors make their way through the hills and small towns of rural New England in cars or buses, and may even take a trip on a fall foliage cruise, trying to catch a glimpse of nature’s spectacular performance, but for a most atmospheric and nostalgic leaf-peeping experience, we at NewEngland.com recommend a more romantic means of transportation — the train! Fall foliage train tours offer a unique opportunity to take in the colors of fall, and with so many to choose from, there’s the perfect ride for everyone.
Read on for a list of fall foliage train tours in New England!
The Mount Washington Cog Railway offers one of the best fall foliage train tours in New England, with sweeping views of fall’s color show from the highest peak in the Northeast.
Looking for a classy way to witness the fall foliage of New England? Consider booking passage on the Café Lafayette Dinner Train. Indulge in a five-course meal as you spend two hours traveling through the heart of New England.
Enjoy beautiful vistas of the White Mountains in all their autumnal glory on the Conway Scenic Railroad. Take your pick from a variety of fall foliage train tours and adventures.
One of the few fall foliage train tours in New England to operate daily during peak fall weeks, the Hobo Harvest Time Express takes passengers along the Pemigewasset River and near the famous Kancamagus highway for some breathtaking views of the changing leaves. After your ride, spend some time at the farm stand and farmyard for some seasonal activities.
Treat yourself and your family to a full turkey dinner as you travel along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee and Paugus Bay on the Fall Foliage Dinner Train. You may also enjoy the Fall Foliage Special Tour, a four-hour route that makes its way along several New England lakes and rivers for a picturesque afternoon. One of their other fall foliage train tours leaves from Weirs Beach, NH. This 1-hour train ride takes visitors along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee for classic views of fall colors reflected in water.
There are several fall foliage train tours that cater to children, and the Connecticut Trolley Museum’s Pumpkin Patch Express is one of the best. Take a short ride through the beautiful countryside on an antique trolley car, stopping along the way at the museum’s Pumpkin Patch for a free pumpkin.
These vintage steam trains carry you along the river in style and comfort as you take in stunning views of the fall foliage along the Connecticut River. Book the Essex Clipper Dinner Train package for a lunchtime trip or the Friday Night Sunset tour for unique views of the foliage as the light changes at day’s end. This is one of the only fall foliage train tours to offer a sunset option.
Take an enchanting fall foliage train tour along the Naugatuck River with views of the Thomaston Dam framed by some of Connecticut’s most beautiful foliage. For children, don’t miss the Pumpkin Patch Express, which runs in October.
Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad offers several fall foliage train tours. You may enjoy the classic Fall Foliage Train Ride or the Cider & Donuts Train Ride where you wind your way through the nature of Waldo County, or perhaps you would prefer to take in the scenery on the Pumpkin Express before you arrive at the pumpkin patch. If you’re looking for something truly unique, take a ride on the Antique Railroad Railcar to experience what it was like for rail workers to maintain the tracks in the past.
Take a peaceful ride on beautifully restored train cars through the woods and marshland of East Maine. Don’t be surprised if you spot a beaver or moose against the colorful fall landscapes. Bring the children the third weekend in October for an annual visit to the pumpkin patch on the Pumpkin Train Ride.
While aboard the Pumpkin Train, children can decorate small pumpkins while the rest of the family snacks on cookies and cider as the train travels along Portland’s waterfront, offering up great views of the colors off Casco Bay.
While Cape Cod Railroad does not specifically offer fall foliage tours, their excursion and dining trains run through October, offering passengers a luxurious experience surrounded by some of Cape Cod’s most idyllic scenery.
Enjoy a scenic ride between North Adams and Adams, Massachusetts while you pick up a few facts about the region and its history during this narrated hour-long fall foliage train tour.
This is a fall foliage train tour you do not want to miss. Sit back and relax with a cup of fresh apple cider as you travel along rivers, past classic covered bridges, and quintessential New England farms.
Did we miss your favorite fall foliage train tour? Let us know!
With research assistance from Chris Burnett. This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated.