New “rail bikes” are scheduled to start traveling the train tracks of the southern Adirondacks, starting in mid-June.
The new company that will bring the machines to Saratoga & North Creek Railways tracks, Renegade Railriders, plans a “soft opening” on June 17, and will be fully operational by July, said co-owner Robert Harte. It will operate from a refurbished warehouse on the rail depot property in North Creek.
The company had hoped to offer two trips, one between Thurman and Stony Creek and the other in a wilderness area in Essex and Hamilton counties.
The southern route was scrapped for this year because it would have required infrastructure that is not in place and would have ended at the former 1000 Acres Ranch, which is under new management and in the process of reopening, Harte said.
It needs the construction of a rail siding that would have been tough to complete in time for the summer.
“It was too heavy of a lift for this season,” Warren County Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson said.
The company is in the process of fabricating its own model of pedal-powered, four-seat rail bikes. The owners had experience with a rail bike operation in the Saranac Lake area last year, and said they are refining and constructing bike models to their own specifications.
Trips will cost riders $35. Riders will be bused from North Creek to the starting point, riding on the rails on a specially equipped bus to their departure site. They will be led and followed by guides to supervise the trip, which will head south and mostly downhill.
Riders will ride start where Vanderwacker Creek and Boreas River meet in the town of Minerva, and ride along the Boreas and Hudson rivers for much of the trip, crossing the Hudson on the iconic trestle north of North River. The trip will take about 3 hours.
“We did a test run a few weeks ago and it is really beautiful,” Harte said. “It’s a dynamic trip.”
Renegade Railriders expects tours to run through late October, as weather permits.
“We are confident the whole experience from start to finish is something that people will never forget,” company co-owner Gus Kamp said.
There is very limited freight train traffic on the north end of the line north of North Creek, so the rail bike schedule won’t compete with train traffic. Tourist trains run on the line to the south, between North Creek and Saratoga Springs.
Horicon Supervisor Matt Simpson, chairman of the county board’s Public Works Committee, said the company’s contract will be with Saratoga & North Creek Railway, with the county sharing in the revenue per the contract with SNCRR.