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As many of you know, we LOVED our recent trip to the Emerson Resort and Spa in upstate New York. Honestly, it was the perfect mid-summer getaway that our family needed! With so many great amenities, we probably could have stayed at the resort the entire trip, but we did want to get out and explore what the local area had to offer! We were so excited to be invited to check out Rail Explorers – and yes, it did clock in as our #1 thing on this trip! As a family, we always name our trip top 3 – anyone else?
Momma To Go would like to thank Rail Explorers for hosting us. As always, all opinions are my own.
Rail Explorers Catskills
You are probably wondering, like I was, – what the heck is Rail Explorers? Even from the picture it’s a little hard to tell what it’s about (although maybe that’s part of the experience!) but if you are curious, like me, then keep reading!
What is Rail Explorers?
In short, a Rail Explorers trip is a two-hour guided adventure where you will be peddling your own cart on an old railroad track.
Easy peddling. I promise.
The entire ride is an out and back trip, 4 miles each way. It takes about 2 hours to complete the journey.
How to book a trip on Rail Explorers
Because this is a timed trip, you should make an advance reservation for the date and time when you would like try Rail Explorers. For parties of 2, you can reserve a double cart, and with three or four people you can take a quad explorer.
The cost for a double (tandem) is $85 and a quad is $150. You can reserve your ride right online!
A trip on the Rails
I would recommend arriving at the depot about 15 minutes prior to your departure. You can check in, look in the shop, even play some corn hole while you wait!
On the day of our visit, it started to MONSOON as we were about to depart, and the staff gave everyone umbrellas and ponchos, so we would not miss our trip! Luckily it only rained for about the first ten minutes, but it is worth noting that the trips run rain or shine. They only stop for thunder.
When it was almost time to go, one of the guides gave us a briefing on what to do and what to expect. The tracks do cross some driveways and one road so there are some safety guidelines but it’s pretty simple. Your party will be in its own cart, but the tour group goes in a caravan. The guides are in the first and last cart, so there’s really not much to know except slow down when the person in front of you is stopped and holding out their arm!
Once everyone got in their carts, and were buckled in (there are seat belts), the journey begins. The carts are well equipped with a bin to store your stuff (camera, water, snacks – my kids can’t go anywhere for two hours without a snack) and there is room on the floor of the cart for anything else you might need.
Once you get started, you just peddle and go.
Take in the beautiful scenery around you! We went on a warm August day, but the tracks go through the forest, so it’s very shady. Kept us cool. I can’t even imagine how beautiful it would be when the foliage is at its peak!
Although you are traveling through the trees, about half-way through the ride, you do come to a road crossing. This was pretty awesome to see how its orchestrated – the first car stops, then slows down the caravan using the arm signal and when everyone has arrived at the crossing, the guides use these metal bars to connect each car making one long train. Then the guide hits the switch on the railroad crossing gate, like a legit railroad crossing, the gates go down, the cars stop (hopefully) and the little human powered train crosses safely! On the other side the guides un-attach everyone and you continue the ride at your own pace.
Now as I mentioned, the trail is an out and back experience. While we were riding, I was so curious as to how we were going to turn the whole operation around. We started in the last rider cart (the guides were behind us), so I figured we would be first on the turn around, which was in fact the case.
When we got to the end of the track, again everyone stopped and actually disembarked their carts. The guides then used this really cool track system (and great teamwork) to turn each cart around and point us in the direction of the depot. Check out this video to see exactly how it was done!
This took about 10 minutes, so it was a nice break. Of course, the kids had their snack and then we were back on the rails.
The ride back was more of the same, except we were now the lead passengers (again, behind the guides). At one point, the guides in front of us stopped to point out a bald eagle across the river. It was very cool – almost looked fake, it was a perfect bald eagle!
When we arrived back at the depot, it was no longer raining and the sun was trying to come out! Finally, we were able to snap some photos!
How physically demanding of an activity is Rail Explorers?
I did the trip with my two kids, who honestly can be pretty useless when it comes to things like peddling… but it really was very easy to peddle the cart. To me, it felt like being at the gym, on the exercise bike, with ZERO resistance on the machine.
There is one part where you can feel you are going slightly downhill, you start to pick up some speed! On the way back you are going on a slight incline, but it really was not hard at all. I kind of wish it was more of a workout to burn off all the delicious wine I had at the Emerson!
The kids did great and it was very easy for them to pedal! The seats are adjustable so even the little ones can help pedal. And if not, mom or dad can keep the cart going! Even infants can ride, as long as they are strapped to an adult (like in a baby carrier). Infants even ride for free!
Rail Explorers Review
I would definitely recommend a trip to try Rail Explorers. The Catskills depot is located at 70 Lower High St, Phoenicia, NY right down the road from the Emerson Resort. In fact, Emerson guests can get a discount to try Rail Explorers!
You can also try Rail Explorers in Newport, Rhode Island or the Las Vegas area!
We had a great time at Rail Explorers and highly recommend seeking out the opportunity to try it! Such a unique adventure I am sure your family will love!
Have you ever done Rail Explorers?