New Hill, N.C. — All aboard!
The New Hope Valley Railway, affectionately known as the “Triangle’s Train,” is a great way to enjoy the slower pace of life as a family. The non-profit’s mission is to preserve and share the history of North Carolina’s railroad with the public. It is an all-volunteer-run operation fueled by the unique passion and love for trains and keeping their magic alive for the next generation.
The group offers a few different rides each month: Slowdown Sunday rides, Brew ‘n’ Choo Saturday rides, limited weekday rides, and a few special holiday events. There is even a chance to be a conductor a few times a year. (The remainder of this year’s “Operate a Loco” experiences are already all sold out!)
We decided to check out the train a few Saturdays ago with family friends. The train is located in New Hill between the tips of Jordan Lake and the Shearon Harris Reservoir. It’s about a 30-minute ride from downtown Raleigh.
The day we went, it was hot. No. It was scorching hot. Hotter than a witch’s cauldron. My toddler had sweat dripping from his face waiting for the train to start. We were all soaked by the end of the ride. So, my first tip would be to go during the spring, fall or winter. If you do go in August as we did, bring a battery-operated fan and lots of ice water.
What to Expect
Make sure to order your tickets ahead of time online. You can pick them up at the station depot when you arrive. The parking lot is a grass field and it’s free. There is a cute model train and town set up by the parking lot and station depot. It features Thomas the Train and several fun characters waiting to catch a ride. Our 2-year-old boy could have watched the train for hours.
We walked across a small bridge to the main train area. There are several restored cars you can explore as well as a gift shop. During the “Brew ‘n’ Chew” rides, they have a food truck and local brewery on site. You can also pack your own goodies to enjoy on the train.
Going for a Ride
The train cars are open-air (no heat or air conditioning). They feature bus-style leather seats that fit two adults. The sides of the cars are high enough that small children can’t reach over them when standing or seated. They could stand on the seat and lean over, but if they are that small mom or dad should be sitting next to them. There is no assigned seating.
The train ride is about 50 minutes through the piney woods. There aren’t any major sights to see along the ride. But it offers a breeze and a chance for great conversation.
We had two 2-year-old boys, two 4-year-old girls, and my 7-year-old daughter with us. They all sat fairly still for the entire ride but did play musical chairs a few times. The kids were excited to experience something different, especially with friends.
Halfway through the ride, the engine detaches and takes another track right beside us to hook up to what was the back of the train to pull us back to the station. It was fun to see the engine go by up close.
We enjoyed the ride back to the station where we explored the restored cars and had some snacks at the picnic tables. I would love to go again during the fall when the leaves are changing colors.
They have restrooms available in the form of the upscale trailer/mobile bathrooms many large events use these days. There is also a single-family restroom, which is great for parents to help their little ones.
Again, the cars are open-air so dress for the weather.
The area is primarily gravel so closed-toed shoes are recommended.
Tickets are $12 for ages 13-59, $11 for age 60+, and $9 for kids age two to 12. Kids under age two ride for free.
You can reserve the “Family Caboose” which seats ten people for $100. This option is already sold out for the holiday events.
The Railway falls under the TSA and Federal Railroad Administration and must follow COVID protocols according to those regulations. Masks are currently required for crews and passengers on trains.
Find out more about New Hope Valley Railway:
Address: 3900 Bonsal Road, New Hill, North Carolina 27562
Tara Lynn is a former WRAL reporter and anchor. She lends her 15-plus years in journalism to tell visual stories through love-filled photography for families of all kinds. The mother of three little humans and one senior rescue dog believes in celebrating magic in the little things, the big loves, and the imperfect moments that make the most remarkable memories. Her vision is to help families celebrate and share their love through photography and curated album artwork that become timeless keepsakes connecting multiple generations...because moments often pass in the blink of an eye, and the photographs we take connect us to our memories and our great loves, forever.