What: Hiwassee River Rail Adventures.
When: Hiwassee to Copperhill, 9:15 a.m. Saturday; Hiwassee Loop, 1:30 p.m. Sunday (and other dates through Nov. 26).
Where: Shuttle boarding at 727 Tennessee Ave., Etowah, Tenn.
Admission: Hiwassee Loop, $33 adults, $23 children ages 3-12; Copperhill route, $56 adults, $39 children; all rides free for children under 3 not occupying a seat.
What: Chickamauga Turn train rides.
When: 10 a.m. Saturday (and other Saturdays through Oct. 1).
Where: Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's Grand Junction Station, 4119 Cromwell Road.
Admission: $33 adults, $25 children 3-12.
Trains on Hiwassee River Rail Adventures traverse a configuration of tracks found in only a couple of other places in the country, according to Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's Steve Freer.
The 50-mile round-trip - beginning in Etowah, Tenn. - travels up the lower Hiwassee River Gorge to the top of the Hiwassee Loop, where the tracks cross over themselves as they corkscrew up the mountain to Farner, Tenn.
TVRM will begin its Hiwassee River Rails season this weekend, opening with the longer excursion to Ducktown and Copperhill on Saturday and following with the Hiwassee Loop trip on Sunday. Excursions continue weekends through November (including Fridays in July).
"It's a beautiful line, very historic," said Freer, TVRM's membership and marketing coordinator. "There are four or five loops in the country but only a couple you can ride over. It's unique to have a railroad line that crosses over itself."
While fall trips generally sell out faster than spring trips due to the colorful foliage, carrying up to 220 passengers, the trip is an interesting one in every season, he said.
"The cool thing about this trip," said Freer, "[is] it is so much different [in each season]."
Spring flowers still may be in evidence during the early trips, he said, and riders will be able to wave to people in the Hiwassee River in kayaks, canoes, floats and inner tubes. In the late fall, after the leaves have fallen, riders have even better vistas during the climb, he said.
When the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum partnered for a trial run through the Hiwassee River Gorge in 2001, it returned passenger service to the route for the first time since the 1960s (except for a period of steam excursions in the 1980s and 1990s). The scenic route had been in existence since the 19th century.
New to the Hiwassee River Rails Adventures this year is a Zip, Rail and Roll trip in which passengers detrain in Ducktown during the longer Copperhill trains for a one-hour zipline and canopy tour provided through Ocoee Ziplines (Raft One).
TVRM also will begin its annual Chickamauga Turn trips, which stop at Wilder Tower in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and in the town of Chickamauga, Ga., on Saturday.