Fall Color Train Tours in Michigan

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Trees on the Upper Peninsula change earliest.
Trees on the Upper Peninsula change earliest. (Image: nameinfame/iStock/Getty Images)

Timing is everything when you want to enjoy a train tour showcasing Michigan's stunning fall colors. The autumn extravaganza peaks at different times across the state. To fully experience autumn's glory, schedule northern Michigan train tours in early October and southern tours for later in the month. Then sit back and view the transformation of maple, oak and ash trees from vintage coaches ambling along the historic rail lines.

Ride the Northern Rails

Experience northern Michigan woodlands ablaze with fall colors from heritage passenger trains operated by the Owosso-based Steam Railroading Institute. Four-hour Saturday excursions depart from Cadillac, Mt. Pleasant and Petoskey during October. Ride the historic Pere Marquette rails to the destination cities of Cadillac and Boyne Falls. Explore small-town shops, parks and restaurants during a two-hour layover. Special fares are available that include snacks, a box lunch and a meal in the classic dining car. Hour-long October excursions through the wilds between Cadillac and Yuma and through the Boyne Falls countryside provide options for those short on time. Get directions to departure locations when you purchase tickets from the organization's website.

Pumpkin Train Adventures

Climb on board the Pumpkin Train for a family-friendly tour through the West Michigan countryside. The Coopersville & Marne Railway operates the 75-minute themed fall tour on weekends in late September and October. Adventures depart from historic downtown Coopersville, travel to Marne and return to Coopersville. Antique passenger cars pulled by a 1950s diesel engine rumble through fall landscapes, and across an open deck girder bridge and four creeks. Along the way, the Great Pumpkin and character friends provide entertainment. At journey's end, children choose a pumpkin from the Pumpkin Patch. Purchase tickets by phone, mail or from the railway ticket office on the day of departure.

Nostalgic Little River Excursion

Little River Railroad's Fall Color Run traverses south-central Michigan along the state's oldest railroad line. The heritage steam train departs from the historic Coldwater depot every Sunday afternoon in October for a 90-minute adventure. The ride gives you opportunities to view deer and other wildlife roaming open fields framed by autumn colors. During the 30-minuet layover in the Village of Quincy, you can purchase jumbo pumpkins, pie pumpkins and gourds straight from a local farm. Buy tickets in advance from the company website or at the ticket window on the day of departure.

Rails, River Views and Cider

It's "all aboard" for a two-hour color tour through the River Raisin basin in southeast Michigan. Southern Michigan Railroad color tours depart from Tecumseh every Saturday and Sunday in October. Tours weave through the countryside along the Clinton Branch line, Michigan's second oldest railroad line. Excursions bring you to autumn views of Red Mill Pond and across a historic bridge. A stop at Kapnick Orchard allows gives you a chance to enjoy Michigan's favorite fall treats -- fresh-pressed cider and doughnuts. Reserve seats online or call the railroad's ticket hotline.

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