New rail bike company starts up near North Creek

Riders take a rail bike across the Hudson River with Revolution Rail Co. on the Saratoga & North Creek Railway line in North Creek. (Photo provided by Revolution Rail Co.)

JOHNSBURG — The picturesque rail line north of North Creek has come alive as a new “rail bike” company began operation.

Revolution Rail Co. began offering trips July 15 as a “soft opening” before beginning seven-day-a-week operation on Aug. 1.

Robert Harte, one of the founders of the company, is a former employee of Rail Explorers, which ran a similar operation on a state-owned train line in Saranac Lake. Rail Explorers has moved to Rhode Island due to New York state’s plans to replace that portion of track with a trail for biking, snowmobiling and other uses. The rail biking industry has been growing around the country and Northeast as tourist rail lines find an alternative use for tracks.

Harte said early reactions from the first people to use his company’s two-person and four-person, pedal-powered “bikes” have been very positive.

Those who book trips meet at the company’s headquarters at the North Creek rail depot and take a five-minute van ride to the hamlet of North River, where the bikes are located for the trip. They pedal 3 miles north, where the bikes are turned around and return south.

“It’s a rail line, so the grade is never too much either way. It’s a fairly flat ride,” Harte said.

One of the highlights of the trip is the jaunt across the rail trestle that crosses the Hudson River.

“The trestle bridge is dynamic,” he said. “Everyone has been beaming when they come back.”

There is also a picnic area at the turnaround spot where rail bikers stop for refreshments before the return trip. Each trip takes about two hours.

Harte pointed out the rail line was used only for freight trains over the years, so few people have run up and down the tracks. Wildlife and whitewater rafters on the Hudson River are among the sights.

Revolution Rail is contracting with Saratoga & North Creek Railway to use the line it owns north of North Creek. The train company runs tourist trains between North Creek and Saratoga Springs, but tourist trains do not use the stretch of rails where the rail bikes will run.

Trips are booked by the bike. A two-person bike is $70, and the four-person version is $135. For more information or to book a trip, go to www.revrail.com or call 518-251-2345.