Want a fun outing to see the leaves this fall? One option is to take a scenic train ride in Grant County, W.Va. They call it the Fall Foliage Special, and it runs during three weekends in October. “It’s a very pretty train trip,” said Eileen Sindledecker, who promotes the county. “The leaves are fabulous,” she said, calling the vista “God’s painted rainbow, without the purples.”
The 1 1/2-hour ride goes from the South Side Depot in Petersburg to Moorefield and back, winding along the river and farm fields at the base of the mountains. You might see wildlife such as eagles, hawks, herons, and deer.
“Sometimes it (the train) stops and lets the cows cross the track,” said Sindledecker.
An annual event, the train ride is Oct. 6–7, 13–14, and 20–21. Cost is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for children. Call the depot at 304- 257-9266 to purchase tickets.
The South Side Depot, at 126 S. Main St., is not an actual depot, but a two-story former general store built in 1911 next to the tracks. Today, it’s a gift shop, selling mostly West Virginia-made artisan items.
You’ll find Roclith blankets, made in Grant County, in a large selection of colors; Blenko, Appalachian, and Hinkle glass; hand-carved walking sticks and utensils; handmade soaps; large chests; trinket boxes; jewelry made from silverware; knitted and crocheted items; blacksmith-made items; Christmas items; old-fashioned wooden toys; art-work; pottery; antiques; home décor; and books about West Virginia.
A coffee shop and pastry shop are also in the building, as well as the Grant County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
There are plenty of other things to do in the vicinity, including kayaking and trout fishing. Popular natural attractions include the Dolly Sods Wilderness, North Fork Mountain Trail, the Smoke Hole area, and Seneca Rocks. Accommodations range from motels and bed-and-breakfasts to luxury log cabins and campgrounds.
The Mountain Skyway — the new Route 48, formerly called Corridor H — reduces the drive from Washington, D.C., to 2 1/2 hours, said Sindledecker. Take the Patterson Creek exit. She said the drive offers “some of the most beautiful views anywhere.”
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See even more of West Virginia by train this season
As summer slips away, cooler temperatures and colorful foliage take its place — a sure sign of autumn splendor! A train ride is a unique way to take in that fantastic fall color.
Located in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad is less than three hours from Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. — close enough for a day trip, yet far enough away to escape the hustle and bustle of the every day.
Your journey will begin at Wappocomo Station, situated next to a charming homestead and a sprawling view of the mountains. Enjoy the sounds of vintage diesels as they lead you through beautiful pastures and farms dating back to the 1700s. As you wind along the South Branch of the Potomac River, you’ll enter a visually striking gorge known as the Trough. One of the most scenic spots along the South Branch, the Trough is home to American bald eagles.
Our Trough Trip, a three-hour round trip to see bald eagles, is offered every day, Oct. 1–28. On weekdays, departures are at 1 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, two departures are offered: 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., except Sunday, Oct. 28, the last day of the season, when there is one departure at 1 p.m.
Two classes of service are offered on our excursions: club and coach. Club includes a three-course meal, complemented with Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad china. These beautifully restored lounge cars offer loveseats with tables and are climate-controlled. Reservations are required, and your entree is chosen at the time of reservation.
Coach is great for families or groups, as an affordable, yet still comfortable, seating option on the train. These 1920s-era coaches have cushioned, high-back, bench-style seats, with a reversible back so passengers can face in either direction the train is moving. Windows may be opened.
These October Trough Trips book quickly, so be sure to make reservations soon by visiting potomaceagle.info/buytickets or by calling 304-424-0736.