Tracks and Yaks Rail Biking Is Fantastic Family Fun!
We recently went on a totally fun, unique, and family friendly day trip to Tracks and Yaks Rail Biking in Allegany County, Maryland. If you enjoy doing outdoor activities with your kids, you have to add a tour with Traks and Yaks to your family fun bucket list!
Tracks and Yaks, which operates out of the Frostburg Train Depot, offers a number of different tours. Here is a quick rundown of the options:
A 2 hour and 10 mile ride on the railroad track (the same one used by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad). You start at the Frostburg Train Depot and the entire ride is downhill. At the end of the 10 mile ride, a shuttle bus brings you back to Frostburg.
Queen City Excursion
A 4-hour and 15+ mile ride on the same track as Helmstetter Hotshot. This is one of the longest rail bike routes in the country. You cruise all the way to Cumberland. There is a 1-hour layover to explore the town, and then the shuttle bus brings you back to Frostburg.
Track and Yak
This is a combination of rail biking and a float or paddle trip. This is a 7-hour excursion where you rail bike to Cumberland and then do a float or paddle. The shuttle bus brings you back to Frostburg.
Biking and Paddling Excursions
You can also sign up for biking, paddling, or biking/paddling combination tours.
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What to Expect on a Tracks and Yaks Rail Biking Tour
We opted for the Helmstetter Hotshot tour, mostly because we didn’t know what to expect. If I had known how fun and easy the experience would be, we would have picked the Queen City Excursion. But if you are unsure, have younger kids, are rail biking with older participants, or– like me– are out of shape and middle aged (ha!), the Helmstetter Hotshot tour is fantastic.
You start off at the Frostburg Train Depot. There is plenty of parking on site. Meet up inside the depot for an orientation briefing. You can also purchase snacks for the trip. Yes, it’s that relaxing that you can snack on the way.
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Get Fitted For Your Rail Bike!
Depending on the size and makeup of your travel party, you will either be fitted on a 2 (tandem) or 4-person (quad) rail bike. Note: The cost for the rail bike is for the entire bike, not per person. As of Spring 2023, pricing for the Helmstetter Hotshot tour is $99 and $169 respectively.
The tour operators will help get you buckled in and away you go! This tour is incredibly scenic. We did a rail biking tour in October and the fall foliage was just starting to pop. I imagine the tour would be scenic in the Spring and Summer too!
The Rail Biking Route
The rail biking route takes you on the same track as the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Don’t worry, they time it so that you are not on the track at the same time. It’s very safe. The route runs alongside the Great Allegheny Passage and you will see bikers and walkers on your excursion.
The tour is a gentle downhill grade the entire 10-mile ride. Near the end you get to rail bike through the iconic brush tunnel. The tour ends at Cash Valley Crossing. From there a shuttle bus takes you back to the Frostburg Train Depot.
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For the basic tour, which is 2 hours long, $99 for a tandem bike and $169 for a quad bike. You pay per bike, not per person.
The Tracks and Yaks rail bikes are not hard to pedal. The route is downhill and it is not strenuous at all.
A rail bike is an open air cart that riders pedal on railroad tracks. In many cases these rail tracks are not used. However, Tracks and Yaks shares the track with the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
No, not really. Rail biking is great for families, multi-generational groups, and more.
Yes.. and sort of. If your kids can reach the pedals, they are more than welcome to help power the bike. However, if they can’t reach, they can just ride. As long as there is at least 1 person who can pedal the rail bike will move. The more the merrier, but on our excursion, I sat in the front and barely touched the pedals.
Yes, very much so. You can wear a helmet but helmets are not provided because it’s really that safe.
Know Before You Go
- Address: 19 Depot St, Frostburg, MD 21532
- Tracks and Yaks Website– Reservations are strongly recommended as they tend to sell out.
- When do rail biking excursions run? Their season starts late April and runs through the beginning of November.
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Make a Day of It
Frostburg is such a cute town! Either before or after your rail biking excursion, we recommend the Princess Restaurant. This is a fantastic diner that offers comfort food favorites like grilled cheese, milkshakes, soups, and sandwiches. Save room for pie!
And if you wanted to add another stop onto your day, The Thrasher Carriage Museum is located at the Frostburg Train Depot as well! This is a FREE museum (but they accept donations) which is a fun peek back to when horse drawn carriages were the main mode of transportation.