Travelling the Mt Washington by Train: What You Need to Know – Tourism Mount Washington


Fancy a unique ride up New Hampshire’s highest peak? The Mount Washington Cog Railway offers a one-of-a-kind journey up the mountain on special trains equipped with toothed wheels that mesh with a central rack rail. Read on for essential tips to plan your railway adventure. 

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When Does the Railway Operate?

The Cog Railway runs trains year-round, though the facilities at the summit close from mid-October through early May. During winter months or severe weather, trains run shortened trips to lower elevations at Skyline and Waumbek stations. These provide spectacular mountain scenery without reaching the summit.

Finding the Base Station

Don’t rely solely on GPS to reach the railway! Some navigation apps direct travellers to the eastern side of Mt Washington over 50 miles away. Instead, head for Route 302 near the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods. Follow the signs for the railway’s Marshfield Base Station. If you aren’t arriving by car, there are plenty of mainline trains in the US that will get you there.

Arriving in Advance

Aim to reach the base station 45 minutes before your scheduled departure. This provides time to collect tickets, grab refreshments, browse the gift shop and museum, and use the restrooms prior to boarding. Trains leave precisely on time and cannot wait for latecomers.

Length and Route

The round trip lasts just under 3 hours, including an hour-long layover at the summit. The steeper climb up takes around 45-60 minutes depending on the locomotive. Passengers travelling behind the slower, coal-fired steam engines will also pause to take on additional water.  

Finding Your Platform

Multiple trains often depart simultaneously from lettered platforms A to D. Platform A sits furthest right when facing the trains. The steam locomotive bringing up the rear gets dispatched last after the diesels. Check indicator boards for your assigned platform.

Accessibility Considerations

The base station and summit buildings provide disabled access and facilities. However, boarding the historic rail coaches requires climbing three steep steps. Those needing assistance must be able to transfer from wheelchairs with help from companions.

Operations in Severe Weather

Trains run as scheduled year-round except in the most extreme conditions. High winds may force temporary closure of the summit park. When facilities aloft close, trains will still carry passengers to the lower Skyline and Waumbek stations depending on severity. Prepare for cold temperatures and bring adequate extra clothing.

Making Reservations

Reserving tickets in advance secures your preferred departure and provides assigned seating. High seasonal demand means many weekends and holiday trains sell out completely weeks ahead. Last-minute riders should anticipate standing in queue to purchase same-day tickets based on availability.  

One-Way Tickets

Hikers should fully prepare for a long, strenuous round trip to the summit on foot. One-way train tickets down the mountain cannot be guaranteed due to limited, reserved seating. Those reaching the top by trail must first purchase descent tickets in-person if space allows and at the conductor’s discretion. Do not attempt to hike unless properly equipped and fit. Descend immediately if weather deteriorates.

Special Offers 

Discounted group rates apply for eligible organised parties of 20 or more during off-peak periods. Other special event trains and packages run throughout the season. Check the railway’s online calendar for details.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway delivers a unique Alpine train experience paired with unbeatable views. Plan your trip carefully by securing tickets early, dressing appropriately, and understanding the railway’s weather protocols. Come prepared for an unforgettable rail journey to remember!

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