Massachusetts Fall Foliage Train Rides (2024): A Complete Guide

Last revised:  December 30, 2023

By: Adam Burns

When one thinks of New England, Massachusetts is usually one of the first, if not the first, most folks think of.  Not surprisingly, the fall season attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually. 

There are currently two heritage railroads in Massachusetts hosting excursions for the public that run through the fall season; the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum and the Cape Cod Central Railroad.  More information about each of these may be found below.

Finally, if you are interested in viewing the fall colors through Massachusetts some of the state's popular locations to do so include:

  • Berkshire Mountains: This stunningly beautiful mountain chain is one of the most popular destinations in Massachusetts to view fall foliage. The rolling hills and dense forests create a stunning display of fall colors. The Mount Greylock State Reservation is a must-visit location for fall foliage enthusiasts. The summit of Mount Greylock offers panoramic views of the surrounding forests, and the park has many trails for hiking and biking.
  • Cape Cod: The cape is world renowned for its beautiful beaches and expensive homes.  In addition, it's a great location to visit during the fall. The Cape Cod National Seashore offers many scenic drives and hiking trails that wind through the dunes and marshes. The cranberry bogs in Cape Cod turn bright red during the fall, creating a stunning contrast against the yellow and orange leaves.
  • Mohawk Trail: The Mohawk Trail is a 63-mile scenic drive through the Berkshires that offers breathtaking views of the fall foliage. The trail passes through small towns and offers many opportunities to stop and take in the views. The Deerfield River Valley and the Hoosac Range are two of the most picturesque locations on the Mohawk Trail.
  • Quabbin ReservoirThe reservoir is a man-made lake located in central Massachusetts that's surrounded by forests and is a popular attraction during the autumn season during late September and into October.  Also, the Enfield Lookout Tower is a must-visit location for fall foliage enthusiasts. The tower provides panoramic views of the surrounding forests and hills.
  • Wachusett Mountain:  This mountain is located in central Massachusetts and is a popular destination for hiking and skiing. The mountain offers many trails that wind through the forests and excellent view of the fall foliage. The summit provides panoramic views of the surrounding forests and the Boston skyline.
0238478231753989013892627.jpgA Railway Enthusiasts Society (RRE) fall foliage special on the Boston & Maine at Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts on October 18, 1969. Roger Puta photo.

Overview

Cape Cod Scenic Railroad

(Hyannis) The Cape Cod Scenic is an upscale heritage railroad which offers a wide range of dinner trains and specials throughout the year. 

While it does not host an official fall foliage excursion its schedule runs through October, allowing passenger to enjoy a train ride at the height of a New England autumn. 

Few other places in America offer such vibrant colors of reds, yellows, and burgundies.  The railroad operates just over 24 miles of an old New York, New Haven & Hartford branch between Hyannis and Buzzards Bay. 

Trains depart from the former town at the preserved, two-story wooden NYNH&H depot built in the early 1900's (located at 252 Main Street). 

Your trip takes you north out of town near the Barnstable Municipal Airport and past the Cummaquid Golf Club before turning west through a mixture of woodland and suburban homes. 

You will briefly pass the Great Marshes and continue northwest before reaching the Cape Cod Canal which connects Cape Cod Bay with Buzzards Bay. 

The trip concludes at another preserved New Haven depot, this one in Buzzards Bay, a one-story brick/stucco structure completed in 1912.


Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum

One of New England's most popular excursions is the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum based in Adams.  This all-volunteer organization has been in service since 1984 and until 2011 used the tracks of freight carrier Housatonic Railroad.

That changed after the company no longer wanted train rides hosted over its rails so the museum worked out an agreement to operate about 5 miles of the former New York Central between Adams and North Adams in 2016.

The museum's operating season lasts from May through October; during this time they host several special events, including during the fall.  The line follows the scenic Hoosic River as well as small farms along the way.  All trips depart from Adams where the former NYC line has been partially rebuilt to reach the town.

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