A ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is the trip of a lifetime.
Our family stepped aboard the historical north Georgia rail one lovely spring morning. We had waited months for this adventure on a real, full-sized diesel locomotive, and our experience was even better than we envisioned.
The Basics of the BRSR
All aboard! No matter what season you choose, your ride with the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway will be starting at the historic depot built in 1905 in downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia — which is a great place to start!
You’ll enjoy the 26-mile trip along the beautiful Toccoa River and through the Chattahoochee National Forest. The first part of your ride will take you to the quaint sister towns of McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee — located in the Copper Basin. Here you’ll have a 2-hour layover, so you can snack on ice cream, shop for unique crafts and antiques, or snap a picture of yourself standing in two states at the same time!
After you’ve had your fill of the towns, you’ll board the train for your return trip back to Blue Ridge.
BRSR in the Spring
There’s just something about the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in the spring! If you are in Blue Ridge, or anywhere near the area, you cannot skip this train ride. Regardless of the age of your kids – or maybe you are visiting without kids – no matter. Don’t overlook a visit on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
I highly recommend a ride in the open-air rail car in Spring. You can feel the breeze and smell the honeysuckle.
We sat in an open-air car, which was fantastic for our family. It was a warm day, but once the train started down the track, the breeze ensured we stayed comfortable. Climate control cars (air in summer, heat in winter) are also available. The seats in the climate-controlled cars reminded me of conventional train or bus seats.
In our open-air car, two long bench-seats each faced the windows, giving everyone on the car an equally clear view of the scenery. I felt quite safe with the boys standing at the windows during the ride. They were just low enough for them to see out the window, but not too low that I worried about them “falling out.” We did have to remind the boys to keep their hands inside the car – but who can resist the temptation to reach out and feel the wind while riding the rails!
As a side note – the staff made an announcement about one short piece of the track where we crossed a closely-tucked bridge – a situation in which flailing limbs might be a concern. For those five-minutes or so, everyone was required to take a seat. I was thankful for their concern for safety. Before riding this rail, I had been nervous about bringing my small children aboard the open-air car (but I didn’t want to miss the beauty so easily experienced on this car type). I was put at ease, and highly recommend the open-air car!
The concession car was open during our trip. They took cash or credit, and had a vast selection. We opted for slushies and crackers, but there was also popcorn, hot and cold drinks, and tons of snacks. It was open both coming and going. Restrooms on board are also clean and plentiful.
Fall Foliage Ride on the BRSR
Southern Living ranked the fall foliage trip on Blue Ridge Scenic Railway as one of the top five attractions for experiencing fall color. It was gorgeous. We still rode in the open air car, just like we did on our first experience. The weather was just fine since we had jackets. The oranges, reds and yellows danced in the background.
The Fall Foliage rides are available all of October and into the first week of November, generally. Let’s be honest – this is the most expensive excursion they offer…but it is worth every single penny.
Like the Spring ride, we chugga-chugga choo-choo’d to McCaysville for a stop over in the border town. Aside from a necessary photo op with one foot in Georgia and the other in Tennessee (just look for the blue line on the street!) you have plenty of time for lunch and some window shopping.
Try lunch at Burra Burra, right on the river! We had enough time to enjoy a leisurely lunch, peek inside a few shops, and visit the Railroad Gift Shop.
Plan to ride more than three times in a year? Maybe once a season? (Atlanta folks – the railroad is less than 90 minutes from the big city!) Consider season passes to save money. And of course, during the holidays, you’ll want to check out the Winter packages.