Railbiking in Cape May is a must-try in my opinion. I mentioned it in my earlier blog post Ultimate Guide-Biking in Cape May. After trying it for myself on a recent visit to Cape May, I had to write an entire post about it. Yes, it is that much fun!
It was an extremely hot and humid day in Cape May. We still had a great time. We bought our tickets over a week in advance on the Revolution Rail website. That is key as they are frequently sold out. The trip begins at the Welcome Center 609 Lafayette Street – which is the original train station (across from the Acme). Register inside and then wait for the guides to get the cars organized and give you the orientation and safety speech. If you are bored waiting, they have a corn hole game set up in the grass to the right of the building to entertain you. They do start on time so plan to be there early.
Before you go
Things to know before you go: I highly recommend bringing water and even a light snack. Sunscreen is a must as there is very little shade on the trip. You might also want to consider bug spray if you are one who typically gets bit. Binoculars are a great addition if you want to do a little bird watching too. There is a large handy basket behind the railbike for you to store any backpack or bag you might have brought. They provide you with umbrellas for sun or rain. Note: It is only canceled for extreme weather like a lightning storm.
The Trip Out
You start out in a conga line situation with a mix of double and quad railbikes. The bikes have plaques in the front and back with bird names so you can remember which one is yours. Ours was American Oyster Catcher (that bird name always confuses me as oysters can’t run so how are they “catching” them. But I digress…) Each bike has a hand brake on one of the seats. Choose your braker wisely. After you get going, everyone spreads out a bit. The pedaling is recumbent so it is a little strange at first, but you will get used to it quickly. The pace is steady and moderately quick, but not fast. There are no hills or super windy curves.
The track meanders through marshland and past vineyards. The end of the journey is at the canal where you will disembark and have an opportunity to look over the canal and take some photos. This leg of the trip is 30 to 40 minutes. They will then turn the railbikes around to make your way back. Before you get going again, there is a brief historical talk covering the local railroad as well as the canal. It was fascinating to me to learn about the part that Cape May played in World War II. I had no idea. I won’t cover it here, as to not spoil it on you or the nice folks at Revolution Rail (and they are incredibly nice). You will be at the canal for about 10-20 minutes depending on how quickly they can turn the bikes around and how many questions are asked by the group.
On your return
Obviously, the return trip is exactly the same way, after-all— you are on rails. However, there is another stop at the Garrett Family Preserve. Once again, you will have the opportunity to walk around. This time, there is an overview and background of the nature preserve and are invited to walk around and tour the various meadows. Each one is different, but you will hear all about it when you experience it yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and stopping in the gazebo hidden in the meadows. It was lovely.
On both legs of the trip, they will stop each railbike and snap a picture. I know what you are thinking, “how much is that going to cost me?” The answer is absolutely nothing. They are free to download. You will be given the information on where to grab them at the end of the trip. It is a fun little memento of the experience. They will also send you a follow up email with a link.
We really had a great time. The entire trip is 4 miles out and back. Our plans are already in place to do it again in the Fall. The foliage will be changing and there will be different birds to see. We are bringing friends next time as everyone we have told wants to do it too.
Have you done railbiking in Cape May? Did you do someplace else? They also have them in New York and Colorado! Let me know. I would love to hear about it!