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Where to Go Railbiking in the Northeast

railbike

Railbiking is popping up everywhere. This four-wheeled open-air activity on abandoned railroad tracks or tracks set aside for heritage rail service is gaining steam (pun intended). This pedal-powered activity is one that most anyone can do and that rewards fun-loving riders with sensational views across glistening lakes, verdant forests, rolling pastures and sandy shorelines.

Railbikes have a side-by-side recumbent style design with foot pedals and a handbrake. Some even have eco-friendly electric pedal-assist capabilities. There’s no need to think about steering or balancing with a railbike. All you need to do is pedal. This way you can be hands-free and able to take all the photos you like of picturesque landscapes as you glide across the railway tracks.

Railbiking is a low-impact exercise. It’s also just right for children and adults, as well as those of different fitness levels. An average railbike ride may cover 3 to 10 miles. Some rides are longer, up to 25 miles, and may tack on extras, like pumpkin picking or river tubing.

Ready to ride the rails on a railbike? Here are our favorite railbiking spots in the Northeast.

Adirondack Railbike Adventures

Thendara and Tupper Lake, N.Y.

It’s hard to beat the stunning foliage and natural beauty of New York’s Adirondacks when you’re set to book a railbiking journey. Get ready to pedal 6 or 7 miles round-trip across historic railroad tracks, even along the Raquette River for departures from the train depot in the quaint town of Tupper Lake. Excursions that originate at the station in Thendara enjoy picturesque views across the Moose River. In October, look for haunted railbike excursions.

American Rail Bike Adventures

Seven Valleys, Pa.

You’ll feel a rush as you pedal along the historic Northern Central Railway of York. A 7-mile guided railbiking excursion allows for views across historic towns, scenic pastures and lush farmland. The tour’s highlight is the 275-foot-long Howard Tunnel, the second oldest railroad tunnel in the United States, which opened to train traffic in 1838. Choose a two-seat or four-seat railbike and get ready to take in breathtaking landscapes with each pedal of the railbike.

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Rail Bike Adventures

Laconia, N.H.

Rail Bike Adventures wows pedal-loving riders with 5-mile railbike tours on a railroad line that dates to 1848. Whether you opt to pedal during the day or roll out as the sun sets in summer, the views across New Hampshire’s fourth largest lake, Lake Winnisquam, will prove spectacular. Railbike excursions for two or four people begin at the historic train depot in Laconia and run to Belmont, a rail town that was incorporated nearly 300 years ago.

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Guests pedal four-person railbikes alongside scenic landscapes with Rail Explorers USA in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. (Courtesy of Rail Explorers USA)

Rail Explorers USA

Various Northeast locations in N.Y. and R.I.

Rail Explorers USA offers guided tours on pedal-assist railbikes in six locations, including Milford and Phoenicia, N.Y.; and Portsmouth, R.I. Tours range from 4 to 12 miles, and of course, the landscape depends on the location. The 6-mile Portsmouth tours boast spectacular views across Narragansett Bay, while the Milford excursions have a baseball theme thanks to a location just south of Cooperstown. You’ll even pedal past Cooperstown Dreams Park. Railbike tours that start in Phoenicia are all about the wondrous beauty of New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Pennsylvania Rail Bike

Hawley, Pa.

Soak up the scenery across the majestic Pocono Mountains as you ride on a custom pedal-assist railbike with Pennsylvania Rail Bike. Guided railbike excursions run 10 to 20 miles and incorporate a mix of history, nature and picturesque views as you gently pedal along the Lackawaxen River. The signature Feel the Power tour leads guests to a hydroelectric power station in Brookfield. Seasonal railbiking tours win over guests with ice cream in summer at the historic train depot and pumpkin picking in fall at an area pumpkin patch.

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In fall, guests pedal across a 90-foot-tall trestle bridge with Revolution Rail Co. near Lake George, N.Y. (Courtesy of Revolution Rail Co.)

Revolution Rail Co.

Various Northeast locations in N.Y., N.J. and Maine

Revolution Rail Co. offers railbiking across the Northeast, as well as in Colorado. Pedal-powered excursions range from 3.5 to 14 miles, and feature scenic mountain views, stunning foliage, wildflower meadows and historic bridges. Seasonal tours pair a railbike adventure with river tubing or pumpkin picking. Revolution Rail Co. even books after-dark excursions, like a full moon ride, so bring a headlamp or flashlight and get ready for a one-of-a-kind experience.

Scenic Railriders

Concord, N.H.

For pedal-powered fun in New Hampshire’s state capital, there’s Scenic Railriders, which offers guided railbike excursions on the historic Northern Railroad in two-seat and four-seat railbikes. Pedal across wooded forests and scenic farmlands, as well as the flowing Merrimack River. For those who have more than four riders, two railbikes can be linked together so the whole group can share in the fun on this 6.2-mile round trip.

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Have you ever been railbiking? Does it sound like something you’d like to try? Tell us in the comments.

Featured photo: Guests pedal a two-person railbike with Revolution Rail Co. in Kennebunkport, Maine. (Courtesy of Revolution Rail Co.)

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7 Thoughts on “Where to Go Railbiking in the Northeast

  1. At the beginning of this article, there should be strong language in bold font that explains it is very dangerous to put one of these devices on an active railroad. Extreme caution should be taken when putting one of these devices on a rail to ensure that it is in fact, unused or abandoned.

    1. Hi Derek, good point. All of railbiking tours mentioned are run by companies that are authorized to operate on the designated rails and work closely with the railroad to ensure everyone’s safety.

  2. Concerning the Railbiking routes, how far are participating “rail bikers” spaced apart. Since there is no opportunity to PASS another vehicle, are we hostage to the speed of the bike in front. Also, are you allowed to stop along the route?

    1. Hi Stephen, railbikers are encouraged to give each other enough space to enjoy the ride at their own pace. Some tours have a speed limit. Based on my own experience, you can slow down or brake if you need to, as long as you give the riders behind you a signal. My route in the Catskills included a scenic stop to relax while the bikes were turned around for the ride back.

  3. We are glad to be included in this article! Railbiking is accessible for all ages. We have had riders from young children in 5-point harnesses who go along for the ride up to a gentleman who was 96! It is sustainable, active, social, and outdoor fun. Thanks for including us, Erin.

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