7 scenic train routes to see peak fall foliage

Mike Cyr is all about trains. He’s president and CEO of a company called Virtual Railfan, which operates a network of more than 100 cameras in 28 states that show train activity, covering 54 locations.

Based in Eastern Tennessee, Cyr said his “all-time favorite, scenery-wise, especially for the fall colors” is close to home: the Copperhill Special train ride, one of the Hiwassee River Rail Adventures operated by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

Leaving from Delano, Tenn., the train travels through the lower Hiwassee River Gorge and over the Hiwassee Loop before reaching Copperhill, Tenn., on the border with Georgia. There’s a 90-minute layover to eat or shop in town before the return, and Cyr said there’s even one conductor who plays the banjo, though no guarantees he’ll be on your trip.

“Some of the most beautiful scenery east of the Mississippi, the mountains of East Tennessee, the Hiwassee River, it’s amazing,” Cyr said. “The scenery is stunning and it’s just getting warmed up down here.”

The eight-hour round-trip journey is available on select dates from July through November — and seats are still available for this year. Cyr said he plans to take it again this year.

“When I tell you I have a train problem, it’s pretty bad,” he said.