While looking around on Groupon recently, my mom saw a deal for the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. It is normally $40 per adult, but with the Groupon it was just $25. I thought that a train ride would be fun, but I highly doubted that it’d be wheelchair accessible. I’ve inquired about riding other trains before and they’re usually not accessible because they are vintage. However, I called the Blue Ridge train office and they quickly informed me that they do have a wheelchair accessible train car. I was happily surprised and bought the Groupon almost immediately. After buying it, I did call the BRSR back and told them what date we’d like to ride. If you’re in a wheelchair, definitely tell them ahead of time because there is limited space on the train. The next day my mom and I headed to Blue Ridge, Georgia and hopped aboard for a beautiful ride.
Blue Ridge Train
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is made up of 11 cars (10 passenger and one concession car) and departs from the depot in downtown Blue Ridge. If you arrive early to the depot, there are several restaurants and shops all around it so you’ll have plenty to do. There are various train rides throughout the year, including a Fall Foliage ride and a Santa Express ride, but we joined the Summer ride, which departs most days between June 1st and September 28th. Wheelchair users are advised to arrive to the train about 45 minutes before departure, but my mom and I actually arrived 2 hours early. We enjoyed walking around the depot area and checking out some of the best things to do in Blue Ridge.
Once it was time to board, we headed to train car 405, which is the wheelchair accessible car. Car 405 was originally built in 1947 for the Boston & Maine Rail Road so there’s definitely some history to it, but in 2008 it was made accessible. There are now two lifts on it, one on each side, and a fairly large family style restroom. This car is open-air, but since this was a Summer ride the breeze felt fantastic when we were moving. The concession car, which sells snacks and drinks, is also right beside 405. The concession car is not accessible though so if you need something just ask a friend or one of the workers.
The train departed the depot right on time and we were treated to great views of the Toccoa River nearly the entire trip. We saw people kayaking, fly fishing, and just floating around on this beautiful Summer day. During the one hour ride, our car host, Wendy, also told us interesting facts about some of the places that we passed by in the train and she showed us some unique things, including old telegraph poles. She made this a really fun and educational ride.
After riding the Blue Ridge train for about an hour, we arrived in the sister towns of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN. It’s one town with two names because it sits right on the Georgia/Tennessee state line. The Toccoa River also becomes the Ocoee River when it crosses the state line. We had two hours to wander around before we had to be back on the train for the return journey, and since I had never been here before it was pretty cool even though it’s a rather small town. Everything in McCaysville and Copperhill is within a 5-10 minute walk of the train, so you’ll have plenty of time.
We started our 2 hour layover by going to Pearly Gates Cafe for some lunch. Pearly Gates has indoor and outdoor dining and serves a variety of foods. They had burgers, ice cream, sandwiches, salads, steak, ribs and more, but I opted for the buffalo chicken tenders and fries. They were really good and my mom liked her burger as well. If you do decide to eat at Pearly Gates Cafe (and I think you should!), bring cash because they do not accept cards. There is an ATM inside the restaurant if you forget to bring cash though so no worries.
After eating lunch we still had a little over an hour until we had to be back at the train. There were quite a few antique stores, which were fun to look around, and we also enjoyed taking in views of the river from the bridge. I’m not sure what the name of the bridge is, but trust me – you’ll find it. You can stand (or in my case, sit) on the GA/TN state line as well. Even though I grew up about 30 minutes from the state line, it was still cool to be in two places at once and I had to get a photo with the sign.
Two hours was the perfect amount of time to spend in McCaysville and Copperhill and I really enjoyed getting to experience these town(s). We soon got back on the train for our one hour return journey and took in the great views once more.
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway was the perfect way to spend a nice Summer day. Whether you’re wanting to experience something new and ride a wheelchair accessible vintage train for the first time, or you want to ride a train again in a new setting with great views, I really can’t recommend the BRSR enough! I guarantee that this Blue Ridge train will be one of your favorite day trips ever.
Thanks so much for mentioning me. It made my day to know you had a blast
It was so great to meet you! Thanks for making the train ride an awesome one, Wendy! 🙂