The Best Rail Bike Tours and Where to Find Them

“Do you even rail bike, bro?”

You’ll probably be asked this question hundreds of times this summer by anyone from your most extreme friend to your grandmother’s knitting buddies. That’s because the newest outdoor activity on Earth is beloved by adventure seekers of all ages.

Put simply, rail biking is riding pedal-powered machines along railroads that have no train traffic. Rail bike tours are new and expanding all over the world, making use of defunct rail lines that traverse scenic natural areas. Here’s a closer look at the best rail bike tour operators.

Rail Explorers USA

This company provides rail bike tours in the Catskill Mountains and Rhode Island (a Las Vegas operation is slated to open soon). With scenic views throughout the relaxed excursion, these trips are perfect for those looking to get off the beaten path and check out the region in a very new and exciting way.

Rail Explorers USA offer two types of “Explorer” vehicles: a tandem for two people or quads for up to four people. They are safe, well-designed and easy to use.

The Catskills tour brings people alongthe historic Ulster and Delaware Railroad, where they travel alongside Esopus Creek through the woods. Bring a snack and a drink for lunch at the creekside turnaround. The trip is eight miles roundtrip and takes about 2.5 hours.

The Rhode Island trip offers two tours: “The Northern Ramble” and “The Southern Circuit.” The Ramble takes guests on a six-mile jaunt from Portsmouth to the Sakonnet River. It’s a one-way trip with a return via shuttle bus. The Circuit trip is six miles roundtrip and allows guests to eat lunch at a private waterfront picnic area.

Flekkefjordbanen

Who says southern Norway doesn’t have some of the best rail biking on Earth? Well … no one. But if you’re in the Flekkefjord area and looking for stunning nature scenes, architectural wonders and some leg-pumping, self-propelled action, the rail-biking tour at Flekkefjordbanen is not to be missed.

This railway line operated for nearly all of the 20th century, connecting Flekkefjord to Sørlandsbanen. Though the last journey made by the Flekkefjordbanen train was in 1990, visitors and locals alike can once again tour this magical area by rail — by bike.

Norwegians in this area are intent on preserving the railroad and turning it into a living museum. Example A: The slogan, which goes “cultural salvation through active use.” Rail biking is the perfect way to put that slogan into action. An activity suitable for old and young alike, the track takes you through a beautiful natural landscape and no less than 17 tunnels. There are tours every day in the summer.

Revolution Rail Co.

The Adirondacks-based Revolution Rail Co. leads riders on a six-mile adventure through the forest along the Hudson River in New York. One of the highlights of this fairly flat-terrain ride is crossing a trestle bridge over the Hudson (think Stand By Me sans train). At the turnaround point, riders can refuel with a snack and a drink while the bikes are readied for the return trip.

This trip will truly be an exploration for most, considering this section of the Adirondacks has never seen passenger traffic before. Tours run throughout each day and there is no minimum age requirement, meaning baby Timmy can be a part of the fun.