Calling all color trackers

Fall foliage trains are on track across the USA and Canada


Fall foliage viewed from the tracks of the Conway Scenic Railroad, Carford Notch State Park, New Hampshire.
Fall foliage viewed from Conway Scenic Railroad, Carford Notch State Park, New Hampshire. © redoctober0000 | Flickr

Fall aboard! North America’s leaves are turning and tourist trains are chasing the color from New England to the Smokies and the Pacific Northwest to the Rockies. And with dozens of scenic railways across over 30 U.S. states and Canadian provinces, tracking down a fall foliage train near you isn’t a problem.

What’s it like to ride a foliage train? That depends on your point of view. Colorado’s golden aspens and New Hampshire’s sugar maple reds offer widely different leaf peeper experiences. Sweeping mountain and plunging canyon vistas shine light on seasonal colors high altitude railways. Thick canopies shroud forested valleys with rich, deep, autumn hues.

Foliage trains go places where hikers and motorists are often unable to reach. Secluded routes through otherwise difficult to access wilderness lead to seldom seen groves and canyons and past little glimpsed vistas. Atmospherics like chugging steam engines, historic stations, railroad museums, and rare engineering marvels like switchback, turntables, and rack-and-pinion cog trains add interest.

Leafy vistas notwithstanding, there’s a lot more to foliage train rides that watching the hues go by. When cold winds blow, toasty warm coaches are apt to offer chill chasing beverages and treats — or even full-blown onboard dining options. Live entertainment sometimes adds to the experience. Binoculars and cameras are always required!