On a less rainy weekend this past winter, I decided to leave hibernation and escape to the North Coast. The North Coast is a wild, beautiful and much less popular destination than Big Sur, south of the Bay Area. Enormous coastal redwoods call the North Coast home. The area is filled with logging history and relics of that era, including the Skunk Train. A few years ago, we got to take the Skunk Train to Camp Noyo. This time around, we decided to take the Skunk Train Rail Bikes out for a spin.
What is a Rail Bike?
The rail bike is exactly what it sounds like: a bike for the railroad track. It’s not your typical upright bicycle though. Each bike has two seats with the driver on the right and the passenger on the left.
The rail bikes operated by the Skunk Train is battery assisted. Don’t knock the help until you try it. These bikes are heavy. So heavy that you notice when one person stops cycling (like me) to take photos or get distracted by the scenery.
The driver is in charge of operating the assist and the brakes. The passenger gets to just cruise along and bike. Each railbike seat also has two handles for the riders to hold on to, though holding on is not necessary.
How to get to the Skunk Train Rail Bikes
The rail bikes do not launch at the same spot in Fort Bragg as the Skunk Train. They skip the hustle and bustle of Fort Bragg. You’ll pick up your “tickets” at the Skunk Train Depot and then head to the corner of Bush and Franklin to hop on your bikes.
Riding the Railbikes
When you hop aboard at the railbike spot, your tour guides show you how to operate the bike. This includes how to brake, and how to turn on electric assist.
Once that’s is done, you’ll put your bike on the tracks and bike along Pudding Creek Estuary. This route takes you beneath the redwoods that the North Coast is so famous for.
The track terminates at Glen Blair where winter storms did some nasty work to the railroad. (Repairs are currently underway.) At Glen Blair, you hop off and walk around while your guides flip the bikes back around.
The ride back is all uphill, so you’ll want to crank that motorized assist to help get you home.
Each excursion is timed between train rides. The 7-mile round-trip takes about an hour from start to finish, with time to stretch your legs where the track ends.
Ride the Skunk Train rail bikes for $250 a bike. Each bike seats two people. No discounts are available for single riders, so bring a friend!