Railbiking Is a New Adventurous Way to Experience Train Travel — Here Are the Best Places to Try It in the U.S.

What you need to know about railbiking, the newest adventure travel trend.

Trains have always held a certain romantic allure, but there’s a way to ride the rails in the open air with fresh breezes, unobstructed views, and a dash of exercise. Railbiking — an outdoor activity that gives you the power to pedal the tracks — is becoming the next trend in adventure travel.

The railbiking track going over water

Rebecca Deurlein

I stumbled upon railbiking — literally stumbled — as I was crossing the train tracks in Hood River, Oregon, and saw the bright red, side-by-side tandem bikes resting on the rails. Metal wheels provide stability, and pedals stretch out ahead, recumbent bike-style. 

My husband and I were on the Mount Hood Railroad, a set of tracks that stood abandoned for years until local Scott Webster bought the 100-year-old railway and introduced railbiking to Oregon. He currently runs 13 bikes and fields thousands of reservations months in advance. It’s easy to see why.

A couple on the railbiking track

Rebecca Deurlein

Railbiking is a low-impact form of exercise, appropriate for people of all ages and abilities. Quiet and peaceful, it features beautiful terrain and is nonpolluting. As a bonus, it makes use of defunct railroad tracks, providing a unique view of nature that you might not otherwise experience. 

I had no idea what to expect, but it really is just like riding a bike — except you don’t have to steer, you can take photos while pedaling, and you have the option of clicking on the pedal assist motor if you’re tired or find an uphill grade too taxing. A hand brake helps with stopping, and plenty of space between bikes makes you feel like the rails are all yours.

A guide leads the way, and a gentle pedal sets your pace — we averaged about 12 miles per hour with little effort and biked the entire 11-mile route in just over two hours. 

A man railbiking though a forest of trees

Rebecca Deurlein

On our journey along the Hood River, we crossed over a rickety bridge, pedaled through densely forested pine woods, around scenic bends, through a rare switchback, and along orchards and vineyards. At our halfway point, we emerged into farmland with epic views of Mount Hood. Here, we stopped to stretch our legs and explore the headquarters of The Fruit Company, where you can wander an extensive gift shop, meander in a small museum, and, come spring, view the open manufacturing process line for the company’s famous fruit and gift baskets. Our guide used this time to turn the bikes for our (fortunately) downhill journey home.

The railbiking track going through two trains

Rebecca Deurlein

Railbiking has grown in popularity as a safe, outdoor activity, with its increasing exposure on Instagram and TikTok taking it to new heights. If you're interested in trying it for yourself, here are six places to experience railbiking in the U.S.

Revolution Rail, North Creek New York

The Hudson River takes on an entirely different view from the rails, and biking through the Adirondacks makes this trip doubly sweet. Riders enter Stony Creek and pass through 1000 Acres Ranch, ending with happy hour at the Red Dog Saloon. The Rails & Rafting trip tacks on a two-hour lazy river float, and for nighttime fun, stargaze on the Moonlight Cruise.

Pudding Creek Railbikes, Fort Bragg, California

This railbiking excursion makes room for your pets — dog trailers and crates provide comfy homes and come with a pup bandana and treat. Cross majestic wooden trestle bridges, marvel at ancient redwoods, and take in the wildlife on this journey along Pudding Creek. Get up close and personal with blue herons, ospreys, river otters, and deer. And during a 50-minute stop, enjoy a picnic or hike through the redwood forest. 

Soarin' Eagle Rail Tours, Hawley, Pennsylvania

The first and only railbiking adventure in the Pocono Mountains, this scenic six-mile route starts in a charming town and meanders along the Lackawaxen River. It gets its name from the eagles you can spot while quietly pedaling either a tandem or quad bike. The sunset tour sheds a different kind of light on this area known as a top honeymoon destination. 

Rail Explorers USA, Las Vegas, Nevada

When your location is Las Vegas, you give visitors what they want — all the lights and dazzle of the Strip. Rail Explorers offers the rare opportunity to railbike at night in lit, custom-designed Explorers. Daytime tours are popular for views of the Mojave Desert and River Mountains. But there’s something for everyone with sunrise, fireside, and twilight tours filling the schedule. This company offers railbiking in several locations, including Boone, Iowa (where you can bike on the Bass Point Creek High Bridge, suspended 156 feet above ground); Cooperstown, New York; Newport, Rhode Island; and the Catskills.

Vance Creek Railriders, Shelton, Washington

Your journey begins with Mount Rainier on the horizon and a fairy tale forest spread before you: moss-covered rocks, fern-lined paths, and fir trees border Goldsborough Creek, where you may even spot some salmon. While most railbiking excursions have age limits (kids must be able to reach the pedals), this one welcomes young children in car seats, safely strapped in. All of the railbikes seat four, so bring the whole family.

Tracks and Yaks, Frostburg, Maryland

The first to introduce Maryland to the fun of railbiking, this 2021 startup has been sold out ever since. The tracks follow the Great Allegheny Passage hiking and biking trails and provide a vantage point for unparalleled mountain views. Several options are offered, including the eponymous Tracks and Yaks, a 15-mile downhill railbike tour, followed by a four-mile float on the North Branch of the Potomac River in a kayak or on a tube. 

Pro Tip: Each railbiking excursion is unique, varying in distance, terrain, and time on board, and some are open seasonally. Most have maximum weight limitations and age restrictions, so be sure to visit their websites for specifics. And make your reservations early, as spots tend to sell out fast. 

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