CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Railbiking in North Creek

Last week I was on vacation, and so my wife planned a rail biking adventure up to North Creek to railbike. The program is run by Revolution Rail Company. I had only heard about these companies recently from another friend, and the idea sounded interesting. Apparently, two or four-seat vehicles are set on old railroad tracks and people propel themselves down the line in a parade fashion. At the "end," the cars are turned on a turntable of sorts and then the group returns. It is a great way to view scenery on old tracks, but at least in New York several are located on recently-used scenic railroad right-of-ways. I would much rather take the train.

These things are popular and we could only get a time slot for early in the morning (8:30AM) and North Creek is about 90 minutes from our house. Thus, it was just like getting up for work. To make matters worse, the temperature was a chilly 45 degrees and the faster you propelled yourself the more cold air rushed on you. But, we bundled up and made the best of it.

The scenery was great. It ran along the Hudson River and threw the woods on told D&H line to Tahawus. For some history of the branch line, click here. We went about 3-4 miles south of North Creek, and the mile posts left over from the D&H were marked 89-92 so I imagine that is how many miles we were from Albany. 

The carts themselves were mostly made from lightweight aluminum with composite plastic wheels and were easy to get up to speeds around 10mph. A small bicycle brake on one wheel slowed it all down. The end spot was barely a clearing in the woods with a couple of picnic tables and a (scary) descent down a trail to the river for those more bold than I. Instead, I stayed by the tracks and watched them spin the carts on a small, temporary turntable. 

I enjoyed spotting old D&H remnants like flanger warning signs, whistle posts, mile posts, and evidence of tough trains laden with titanium from the Tahawus mine at the end of the line. The rails were pitted, had slipping wheel burn marks, and the joints bumped.  

The trip took about 2 hours, and the sun came out later on and allowed for some pretty shots along the river. Also, the trees were mid-transition from green to orange and some color was still to be found.

In the end, however, I wish I could have taken the train along these tracks. This is the third time I have travelled along this section of track. I first rode the Upper Hudson River Railroad in 2009 on this portion of the line, and a few years later rode again on the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad. Both are gone, and issues involving politics, taxes, freight revenue, rail trails, and snowmobiles make the return of trains questionable.

Still, I would rather be on a railbike than walking along a paved rail trail... and if enough people don't support things like this that is what will happen. But, I will wait until it is warmer next time!

1 comment:

  1. I've never been on those railbikes... I did, however, visit North Creek a couple years ago to photograph the RS-36 that was there before it got taken away. Looks like you had a nice trip, plenty scenic.