Seeing the Michigan fall colors is an essential experience whether you live in or visit Michigan. The vibrant shades of yellow and red are a beautiful backdrop for hikes and scenic road trips.
However, these aren’t the only ways to observe the changing leaves. You can go on a relaxing Michigan fall color train tour. In fact, it’s one of the top unique ways to see the fall foliage.
Here are four Michigan train companies that offer unique rides for fall foliage viewing…
Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tours & the Famous Toonerville Trolley
In Soo Junction, Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tours & the Famous Toonerville Trolley offers 5.5-mile train rides in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The train follows the longest 24-inch-gauge railroad in the country and travels through the wilderness, so you’re likely to see wildlife and plenty of fall colors.
“The Hiawatha offers two decks, with enclosed seating, open air seating and restrooms. During the cruise, the captain provides narration on points of interest including: logging and Native American history, and the Tahquamenon River’s plant and animal life.”trainandboattours.com
The wilderness tour starts with a 35-minute narrow gauge train ride, followed by a 2-hour narrated riverboat cruise. After reaching the rapids above the falls, the riverboat docks for one hour and fifteen minutes, allowing for a 5/8 mile nature hike to a private view of the upper Tahquamenon Falls.
Note: The nature hike includes stairs and is not handicap accessible.
After the stopover, the riverboat and train retrace their route back to Soo Junction.
This 6.5-hour train and riverboat tour runs several days a week through early October, departing from Soo Junction, MI at 10:30 AM and returning at 5:00 PM.
“The Toonerville Trolley and Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tour to the falls was a beautiful and relaxing way to spend our day. First, the approximately 35 minute train ride through forest and bog habitat yielded cranes, eagles, and numerous other birds (not lucky enough to see a bear…). The two hour boat ride to the falls also provided amazing scenery. We had burgers from their on-board grill and were pleasantly surprised. They allowed approximately one hour 15 minutes to hike to the falls; this allowed us plenty of time to hike to both the upper and lower (much prettier) view of the upper falls. The return boat and train rides were also enjoyable. The captain’s commentary was spot-on the entire boat trip; we learned so many fun and interesting things. We would do this tour again in a heartbeat.”TripAdvisor review
Michigan Fall Train Tours With Friends of Coopersville and Marne Railway
Along with fall foliage tours, the Friends of Coopersville and Marne Railway offers The Famous Pumpkin Train tours. The historic railway is operated by volunteers and has vintage locomotives with passenger cars from the 1920s.
The fall train rides, known as Pumpkin Train, run from Coopersville to Marne, which is about 7 miles, crosses over a road bridge and four creeks, and passes through fields and farms.
You’ll learn about railroad history and equipment from the friendly conductor, too, as you watch the passing fall colors. The Famous Pumpkin Train features singing and dancing by the Scarecrow, Little Crow, and Grand Pumpkin characters. At the end of the ride, kids get to pick pumpkins out of the pumpkin patch.
“Took our 2 year old on the trip… He loved it especially when they blew the horn. The 3 characters the pumpkin, scarecrow and the crow were great. Entertaining and everyone was full of energy.”TripAdvisor review
Southern Michigan Railroad Society Fall Train Rides
The Southern Michigan Railroad Society operates two-hour scenic train rides in Michigan during October. The train crosses the River Raisin near the Red Millpond, which features excellent views of the changing leaves.
You get the best view from the open-air gondola car, but a fully enclosed caboose is available as well. If the weather keeps you from riding in the open-air gondola, exploring the antique shops and stores in Tecumseh are a lovely alternative.
Fall Festival Train Ride
SMRS is offering fall train rides for both the Clinton Fall Festival and Tecumseh Appleumpkin Festival. During each festival, the railroad is offering short trips (approximately 45-minutes round-trip) to the Red Mill Pond bridge and back.
“We took the Sunday morning train ride during the Appleumpkin Festival. It was a beautiful crisp fall day. We were in the open car and could see everything perfectly. There were herons, eagles and deer along the way. It was a fun way to spend a couple hours.”TripAdvisor review
Fall Color Tour Train Ride
The Fall Color Tour takes riders on leisurely trip through northern Lenawee County. The train departs from the City of Tecumseh heading north to the Village of Clinton and returns on the same track.
This is the oldest branch line in the state. This railroad once played an important role in the local economy. As the colors change imagine the countless passengers that once rode this line to points beyond.
Once north of the city, riders will enter the Red Mill Pond area. The train slows down for a chance to see the many different animals that call this habitat home.
At the Clinton Station, riders can enjoy some delicious, locally made Apple Cider and visit the gift shop. After a short layover, the train will head back to Tecumseh. Each fall color train trip is expected to take around 2 hours.
Huckleberry Ghost Train Express at Crossroads Village
Halloween Ghosts & Goodies at Crossroads Village is one of the most beloved fall traditions in Genesee County, and no visit is complete with taking a 40-minute ride through the fall foliage on the famous Huckleberry Ghost Train Express.
Fun for the whole family, this fall festival includes treats, tricks, cider, donuts, magic shows, a straw maze, and more. A optional Halloween dinner buffet is served on Saturday evenings.
“My family went to the Halloween event yesterday. It was 10 of us total. The ages ranged from 2 years up to 62 years old… There were multiple stops for the kids to get candy one stop even gave out an apple. The kids were so excited to see all the different Halloween decorations all over the village. All the workers had on nice costumes and were very friendly. Everyone enjoyed the complimentary donuts and apple cider. They were other things for sale like pizza, soda and hot cocoa. The train ride was nice it was about 40 minutes long. There were plenty of Halloween decorations to look at as we enjoyed the ride. This was all of our first time there but we will definitely be back!”TripAdvisor review
Little River Railroad Fall Pumpkin Train Rides
Little River Railroad offers scenic train rides powered by antique steam locomotives in Michigan. The popular 1.5-hour train trips run between Coldwater and Quincy and are a great way to enjoy Michigan’s fall foliage.
These fall train rides are a perfect way to relax and take in beautiful scenery during the autumn season. It is highly recommended to pre-purchase tickets as there is limited availability.
Other Ways to Enjoy Michigan Fall Foliage
Aside from taking a Michigan fall color train tour, there are numerous ways to enjoy the fall colors and fall activities. For example, you could check out some of the state’s delightful apple orchards and one-of-a-kind corn mazes. Moreover, there are several must-visit places in Michigan for fall foliage.