One of the most popular attractions in the Georgia Mountains is a scenic train ride through the Appalachians on the restored Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. These scenic train rides travel along the Toccoa River on the old Marietta and North Georgia Railroad tracks. The train tours take travelers from the heart of downtown Blue Ridge to the scenic Georgia – Tennessee border towns of McCaysville (on the GA side) and Copperhill (on the TN side).

Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad in Blue Ridge GA
Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad in Blue Ridge GA (photo by Blue Ridge Scenic Railway)

The 13-mile train trip takes about an hour as it rolls through the Chattahoochee National Forest and along the Toccoa River. The train stops for a 2-hour layover to allow passengers the opportunity to explore McCaysville and Copperhill. Enjoy a waterfront meal or drink on the river, or wander around the antique shops for unique treasures. When the train whistle blows, it’s time to board the train for the scenic hour-long ride back to Blue Ridge.

Passengers have the choice of riding in vintage, climate-controlled rail cars or open-air rail cars on a handful of different types of trips.


Railroad History in the Blue Ridge Area

Railroads played a significant role in the development of the Blue Ridge and McCaysville area between the 1800s and the early 1900s. They determined the routes of local roads, saved an ailing mining industry, contributed to the growth of small towns as resort communities, and made it possible to log the timber in the area.

All trips on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway begin at the historic depot built-in 1905 in downtown Blue Ridge and some of the tracks follow along tracks that were originally laid in 1886! The trains follow the former Marietta and North Georgia Railroad line along the Toccoa River north to McCaysville, Georgia, and its “sister city” of Copperhill, Tennessee.

Map of Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Route (Blue Ridge to McCaysville)
Map of Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Route (Blue Ridge to McCaysville)

The last passenger trains left Blue Ridge in 1951, but the freight trains continued through 1987. A few years later, citizens of Blue Ridge started working on the railroad’s restoration and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway started carrying tourists in 1998. In its first year, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway carried 17,000 passengers. Today the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is part of the Patriot Rail & Ports company and has grown to carry 78,000 passengers each year!


When to Take the Scenic Railway Tour

The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway heritage railroad in northern Georgia runs from early March through the end of the year. The tours are the most popular during the peak times for annual Fall Foliage. There are more trains scheduled during these peak times, but there are also many more visitors to the area. Be sure to book your tickets well in advance during the peak season of Fall / Autumn as the trains often sell out in advance.


Seasonal Rates & Special Trips

The trips available will depend on the time of year, but the majority of trips are for a 4-hour scenic trip from Blue Ridge to McCaysville (time is 2 hours on the train and 2 hours of layover). There are a few additional shorter, specialty trips that happen for special occasions.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Schedule for 2021 Season
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Schedule for 2021 Season

Spring, Summer, and Winter rides

  • 4-hour trips that depart at 11:00 a.m.
  • Includes a 2-hour layover in McCaysville, GA / Copperhill, TN
  • $45 adult or $80 adult Premier Class
  • $29 children (ages 2 – 12)
  • FREE for children under age 2 (ticket is still required)


Fall Foliage rides

  • 4-hour trips that depart at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., or 3:00 p.m.
  • Includes a 2-hour layover in McCaysville, GA / Copperhill, TN
  • $55 adult or $90 adult Premier Class
  • $35 children (ages 2 – 12)
  • FREE for children under age 2 (ticket is still required)


Santa Express rides

  • 1-hour express rides with Santa and Mrs. Claus that depart at 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., or 4:00 p.m.
  • This train does not go to a layover town and Premier Class is not available
  • $48 adult
  • $31 children (ages 2 – 12)
  • FREE for children under age 2 (ticket is still required)
  • Every child will receive a traditional bell and candy cane


New Year’s Eve Midnight Train

  • Ride departs at 10:00 p.m. on December 31 and returns at approx 12:30 a.m. on January 1st
    • This year will feature a 1920’s themed ride into 2020
  • $86 for Adult Singles or $162 for Adult Couples
  • Ring in the new year with wine, beer, hors d’oeuvres, friends, and family
  • This event is for adults aged 21+

Also, watch for special Egg Hunt rides around Easter and a Fireworks ride near Independence Day. The railway closes after the New Year’s Eve train for about 10 – 12 weeks to do maintenance on the tracks and trains.

The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway can also be rented one car at a time — or the whole train can be rented as well. Contact the ticket office at (877) 413-8724 for details.


Trip Options & Train Car Types

There are 3 different types of train cars available for most (but not all) train rides. You can choose the Open Air cabin (great for days with nice weather), the Closed Cabin, or adults (ages 18+ only) can also choose the Premier Class cabin. The Premier Class includes better seats that recline, snacks / small meals, non-alcoholic beverages, a group photo, and a tote bag for your group.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Train Car Interiors
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Train Car Interiors (Open Air, Closed, Premier)


Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Discounts

There are a few ways to score discounts on your train rides. Either go with a group, purchase a season ticket (worth it if you plan to travel 3 or more times within the year), or take advantage of discounts for select people (seniors, military, teachers, and first responders).

  • Save 15% on train tickets for groups of 15 or more
  • Discounts also available for seniors (65+), Military (active or retired), First Responders (active or retired), and Teachers (current or retired) with a valid ID
  • Season Tickets are available for anyone who wants to make multiple trips during the year
    • Note that season tickets will not provide access to special trips like the Santa Express or New Years Eve Midnight Train
  • Ticket office is open seven days a week
    • 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    • call 877-413-TRAIN
  • Find more online about the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway schedule and pricing details
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Railcar Order
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Railcar Order

Note: tickets are sold for the train car that you want to ride in, but individual seats are not reserved (seats are first-come, first-served)


Notes Regarding the Trip

A small cooler with drinks and snacks is allowed on the train, but it must be small enough to fit under your seat (about the size of a soft-sided 6-pack cooler). There is also a concession car in the middle of the train that sells hot / cold beverages, snacks, candy, and more (they accept cash, Mastercard, Visa, and Discover).

No alcohol is allowed on the train, but you may buy alcoholic beverages during the layover in McCaysville / Copperhill. No smoking or vaping allowed. No pets allowed (except for service animals).

Bathrooms and baby changing stations are located on the train. A handicap-accessible car is available, but you must call to purchase these tickets (they cannot be purchased online). There is free parking near the depot on a first-come, first-served basis. There are also 2 paid parking lots ($5) nearby.

Trains will run rain or shine. Reservations are highly recommended — especially for peak travel times (fall foliage / weekends).


What to Take on Your Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Trip

Riders are permitted to take a small cooler with snacks and drinks (no alcohol) on board, as long as the cooler can fit underneath their seat. You may also want to dress in layers as the breeze in the open-air cars could feel chilly during the early Spring / late Fall seasons.

The train operates rain or shine, so take a raincoat and / or umbrella if the forecast hints at rain. Comfortable shoes will make it easier to get on and off of the train, and will also allow making exploring the towns of McCaysville and Copperhill easier during your 2-hour layover.


Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in the Media

For a more in-depth look at the history of the railroad, check out books on the railway including Blue Ridge Scenic Railway (Images of Rail) by Melissa Beck. The photographic history of the copper miners, shop owners, homesteaders, and railroad workers who made these mountains their homes will add an extra dimension to your railway tour.

This local gem has also been featured in numerous publications for its spectacular views of the fall colors in the Appalachian mountains and its unique specialty trips. Learn more about the railroad from these national publications that consider the railroad as a treat that should not be missed.


Contact & Visit


Reviews & Social Media

  • Facebook: @blueridgescenicrailway Rated 4.6 (1,275+ Reviews), 42,000+ Likes
  • Groupon: Rated 4.8 (240+ Groupon reviews)
  • Instagram: @blueridgescenicrailway (3,500+ followers)
  • TripAdvisor: Rated 4.0 (1,100+ TripAdvisor reviews)
  • Yelp: Rated 3.5 (70+ Yelp reviews)


Other Resources


What type of trip on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway looks best for your group? Do you prefer the fresh mountain air in the open-air cabins or the climate-controlled closed cabins?