Ever seen a romantic old railroad track and wanted to follow it for a bit? That’s the magic of Rail Explorers – a pedal powered vehicle that rides on railroad tracks, with 4 steel wheels, hydraulic disc brakes, and 2 or 4 comfortable seats.
Riding the rails is actually pretty easy, as the terrain is mostly flat and unlike other bikes, you don’t have to steer. This leaves your hands conveniently free for your camera, which is important as the route is spectacular – a 6-mile Northern Ramble along gorgeous Narragansett Bay that traverses private waterfront estates, two golf courses, the Newport Preservation Society Topiary Garden and the Audubon Society Nature Preserve. (For the record, there’s also a Southern Circuit that enjoys incredible water views over Narragansett Bay in late June through August. Fall Schedule just extended to September and October: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only.)
The whole adventure takes about 90 minutes, with about an hour on the rails. (Trips are one way, with a shuttle bus return, unless you choose the round trip option.) The explorers leave at the same time, with a tour guide in the lead, a tour guide behind, and individual cars leisurely spread out in between – often about 200 feet apart, so you enjoy your own space at your own pace. Kids are welcome, but must be accompanied by someone at least 16 years of age to handle the brakes. Price is by vehicle, with a tandem going for $75 one way, $125 for quad. Rail Explorers runs daily – except July 4, now through October 28 – and you can book any of the 4 trips (2 round trips) daily: 10:00 am, 11:30am, 4pm or 5:30pm. Advance reservations are recommended.
By the way, while there are no trains running on the tracks you’re pedaling, you can combine your Rail Explorers experience with a trip on an actual train, operated by the Newport & Narragansett Bay Railroad, which has an ice cream train for kids and an elegant dinner train called the Grand Bellevue. For more, www.trainsri.com