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Five fabulous fall foliage train rides

By Marnie Hunter, CNN
updated 3:35 PM EDT, Fri September 30, 2011
The Hobo Railroad offers daily fall foliage excursions through October 16 from Lincoln, New Hampshire. The Hobo Railroad offers daily fall foliage excursions through October 16 from Lincoln, New Hampshire.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Scenic railroads across the United States offer autumn excursions for leaf peepers
  • In North Carolina, ride into the Nantahala Gorge for a fall foliage experience
  • The North Shore Scenic Railroad in Minnesota runs along the shores of Lake Superior

(CNN) -- What better combination than railroads and leaf-peeping? No traffic, no driving distractions, just a leisurely ride featuring fiery blasts of fall color.

Ride the rails in these five locations for a heaping helping of autumn or consider a scenic train trip in your neck of the woods.

Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads, New Hampshire

The Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads offer a handful of foliage train rides in New Hampshire, including a four-hour expedition from Meredith through the Lakes Region toward the White Mountains. Pass by Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona, rocky gorges and Livermore Falls on the way to Plymouth, where a hot buffet lunch awaits at the Common Man Inn. This special round-trip route is offered weekends through October 16. Coach tickets, including lunch, are $54 for adults and $25 for kids. Check the website for details and more foliage rides.

Train travel is on track

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, Bryson City, North Carolina

Departing from Bryson City, North Carolina, this railroad offers two fall excursions. One is a round trip to the Nantahala Gorge along the Little Tennessee and Nantahala rivers. The 4.5-hour trip includes an hour on the ground at the Nantahala Outdoor Center where you can picnic or buy lunch. The other excursion along the Tuckasegee River is a round trip to Dillsboro, with an hour and a half layover for shopping and dining in the village. In October, standard tickets for both options are $53 for adults and $31 for kids. For optimal foliage views, check out the new open-air cars debuting October 1.

Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, Nelsonville, Ohio

In addition to weekend excursions, Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is running two weekday foliage trains on Thursdays and Fridays in October. The more than two-hour round-trip rides depart at 1:30 p.m. from the Nelsonville Depot and include a half-hour stop in Robbins Crossing, a restored 1840s village on the campus of Hocking College. Adult tickets are $16, kids ages 3 to 12 are $11. Check Ohio foliage reports for the best fall color.

Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, Elbe, Washington

Ride through the foothills of Mount Rainier on leaf-peeping excursions from Elbe, Washington, to Mineral Lake. On clear days, gorgeous views of the snow-capped mountain add to wildlife sightings and the striking fall colors. The trip, about 45 minutes each way, includes a 15-minute stop at the lake that can be extended by taking the afternoon train back. Trains depart Saturdays and Sundays from October 2 to 16. Adult tickets are $20, kids 4 to 12 cost $15.

North Shore Scenic Railroad, Duluth, Minnesota

Soak in eye-popping splashes of yellow, red and orange on a leisurely six-hour round-trip excursion along the shores of Lake Superior between Duluth and Two Harbors. A two-hour stop in Two Harbors gives riders time to explore the historic town and have lunch before the ride back to Duluth. The foliage ride is offered every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through October 16. Adult tickets are $30, children ride for $18. Reservations are required.

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