10 Scenic Train Rides In North Carolina, USA

scenic train rides in north carolina

A State in the US, North Carolina is one beautiful place to have your vacation for its laid-back vibe and country feel. There are many things to do and see here, including swimming in its pristine beaches and going nature trekking at its many trails. It is also home to numerous waterfalls, lakes, streams, and more. Apart from these nature’s gems, you’ll also find museums like the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which features everything about NASCAR driving as well as honoring the drivers who have exceptional driving skills. If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful state, check out our list of the top scenic train rides in North Carolina, and have a happy trip ahead.

1. Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

GSMR 1702 leading a Photo Special
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Nstrainman1006 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is not just a freight train but also serves as a heritage to North Carolina. It serves the towns of Dillsboro, Bryson City, Whittier, Fontana Lake, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center. During your journey, you will be passing through luscious valleys, tunnels, and river abysses, giving you scenic views of the countryside and natural wonders. In Bryson City, you’ll find its museum that has numerous exhibits of everything transportation related. Also, when you depart from Bryson City, you’ll be seeing the popular train wreckage used in the movie, The Fugitive.

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

Website: Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

2. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Stay Between The Lines
Source: Photo by Flickr user Olin Gilbert used under CC BY 2.0

Based in Blue Ridge in the state of Georgia, Blue Ridge Scenic Railway has a route that departs from Blue Ridge, passes through the North Carolina borders, and has stops in McCaysville, Georgia, Copperhill, and Tennessee. The view while traveling is quite fascinating. You’ll see the countryside, stunning Toccoa River, rolling hills, and more. You can also opt to ride the climate controlled and open-air rail cars as well as the closed coach premier car service for travelers at the age of 18 up. Another great thing about this train ride, aside from the great views, is it has a two-hour stopover in McCaysville, where you can eat your lunch or have a little shopping spree.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Website: Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

3. Wnc Wagon Train Inc

If you want to experience how our ancestors travel before when there’s no modern form of transportation, then you have to try riding the nation’s oldest wagon train that meets in Andrews, which explores the area and the Valley River valley. Just a warning, this is not a relaxing ride or an amusing expedition, but a trek in a wagon and horseback. Make sure you are for this kind of trip before signing up for this activity.

Wnc Wagon Train Inc

Website: Wnc Wagon Train Inc

4. Craggy Mountain Line

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

A non-profit organization formed in 2001 to obtain the last three miles (4.8 km) of the Craggy Mountain line, this historic railroad is now up, functioning, and open to the public. It is a 3.5-mile (5.63-kilometer) section of railroad in Woodfin, a small town in North Carolina. You can now ride the historic trains as well as the trolleys and see many beautiful nature sceneries along the way. It is open for private functions like birthday parties, company events, and friends gathering.

Craggy Mountain Line

Website: Craggy Mountain Line

5. NC Department of Transportation- Rail Division

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mec011

The Rail Division of NC Department of Transportation is in charge of the six Amtrak trains that serve both passenger and freight. It has a route of 317 mi (510.16 km) that starts in Charlotte and passes through the cities of Salisbury, Lexington, Greensboro, Burlington, Durham, Raleigh, Goldsboro, and finally ends at Morehead City. During the train ride, you’ll see many beautiful sceneries like rolling hills, mountains, rivers, and the countryside.

NC Department of Transportation- Rail Division

Website: NC Department of Transportation- Rail Division

6. Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie Railroad
Source: Photo by Flickr user Smart Destinations used under CC BY-SA 2.0

An amusement park with a theme of the wild west, Tweetsie Railroad is a family-friendly attraction in North Carolina that will surely be enjoyed by everyone, even the adults. Its main attraction is the 3.5 mi (5.63 km) train ride that is being dragged by two historic steam engines. Aside from the train, there are also other attractions, including exciting rides, live shows, a zoo, and more family-oriented booths.

Tweetsie Railroad

Website: Tweetsie Railroad

7. North Carolina Railroad Co

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

A 317-mile railroad owned by the state which extends to Morehead City and ends in Charlotte, the North Carolina Railroad carries more or less 70 freight trains and eight passenger trains a day. As you travel, you’ll see the magnificent sceneries of the countryside, forest, and the river as you cross the Yadkin River, which is the longest river in North Carolina.

North Carolina Railroad Co

Website: North Carolina Railroad Co

8. Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway Company

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Today Aberdeen Carolina an Western Railway has proudly unveiled our beautifully restored 70 year old F-Unit Locomotives....

Posted by Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway on Sunday, May 16, 2021

A short line railroad, the Aberdeen, Carolina and Western Railway extends from Aberdeen up to Star, North Carolina. This railway caters to more or less 18 industries that largely deal with forest and agricultural products. You will be passing through the beautiful countryside, forest, and rolling mountains on the way to your destination, so make sure to stay awake during this short train ride.

Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway Company

Website: Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway Company

9. Wilmington Terminal Railroad

Mainly serving the Port of Wilmington, Wilmington Terminal Railroad is a short line railroad that started operating in 1986. During the short train ride, you’ll be passing through the Sunset Park, Greenfield Creek, Winnie’s Tavern, and more interesting establishments. Don’t forget to take pictures of the scenic attractions on your way to your destination.

Wilmington Terminal Railroad

Website: Wilmington Terminal Railroad

10. Yadkin Valley Railroad

Lancaster and Chester Train 12
Source: Photo by Flickr user Reginald McDowell used under CC BY 2.0

Another short lined railroad with two lines that starts at the Rural Hall to North Wilkesboro and Mount Airy, the Yadkin Valley Railroad Co. has a length of 93 miles (150 km) and provides freight service of prime commodities like poultry feeds, plastics, wood products, and more. The train will also pass many beautiful sceneries like the countryside, mountains, forest, and the old bridge at Elkin, North Carolina.

Yadkin Valley Railroad Co.

Website: Yadkin Valley Railroad

A true adventure

North Carolina Railroad Museum ^ New Hope Valley Railway Oct 2013 Steam Locomotive came from Stone Mountain, GA ^110 - panoramio
Source: Photo by user Mikeiamunion21 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re going here for a true nature adventure, then you’ll be in for a surprise of a lifetime, with its many landscapes and beaches. You’ll surely have lots of fun and memorable time swimming at the beach and exploring the many forests. If you’re planning to visit the state, check out our list of the top scenic train rides in North Carolina.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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