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Nestled in the peaks of the Appalachian Mountains in Western Maryland lies the historic railroad town of Cumberland. Known as the Gateway to the West, Cumberland has a rich transportation history dating back to the mid-1800s. One of the best ways to explore this history and take in the captivating mountain scenery is by booking a ticket aboard the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. This historic railroad offers a delightful train ride along an old railway line from Cumberland to the mountain city of Frostburg and back.
The journey traverses over 32 miles through the stunning Allegheny Mountains and provides passengers with unforgettable vistas of the mountain landscape in Maryland. One of the most popular excursions is the Frostburg Flyer, a 3.5 hour round trip ride with a 90-minute layover in Frostburg. During the layover, guests can explore Frostburg’s shops and restaurants or visit a museum before re-boarding for the return trip to Cumberland.
All About the Scenic Train Route
The train route between Cumberland and Frostburg is both scenic and historic, making it a favorite for families, couples, solo travelers and train enthusiasts alike. The journey begins at the Western Maryland Railway Station located along the charming Canal Place heritage area in Cumberland. This station houses the ticket office, gift shop, and visitor center for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
After departing Cumberland Station, the train heads west, immediately entering a stretch known as the Cumberland Narrows. This steep, narrow valley features lush hillsides blanketed with thick forests that explode with color in autumn. Gazing out the window, you’ll also glimpse the Potomac River and remnants of the once prominent Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal.
Further along, the train passes over the iconic Helmstetter’s Curve, one of the most photographed spots on the line. As it rounds Horseshoe Curve, the tracks double back under themselves creating a panoramic sight of rail lines stacked upon each other against a backdrop of the mountains. Next you’ll travel over Big Savage Mountain towards Frostburg, reaching the crest of the line at an elevation of 2,392 feet above sea level.
The uphill climb involves grades as steep as 2.8% as the train winds through the Allegheny Mountains. Along the way, you’ll travel over iron truss bridges spanning over mountain creeks, through the 914-foot Brush Tunnel, and see the remains of original Western Maryland Railroad infrastructure. The engineering feats required for building this railroad line through rough Appalachian terrain are highlights themselves.
Frostburg Flyer Excursion Train Details
The Frostburg Flyer excursion departs daily from Cumberland, MD and takes passengers on a 3.5 hour round trip ride with a 90 minute layover in Frostburg. This gives you plenty of time to grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants in the Frostburg Depot or take a quick walking tour of Frostburg before the train boards for its return trip to Cumberland.
The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad uses both steam and diesel locomotive engines to pull these excursion trains. The fan favorite is when the shop’s massive 1309 steam locomotive is running to haul the train up Big Savage Mountain to Frostburg.
- Steam trains operate May through October
- Diesel engines are used for the remainder of the year
These trains can accommodate guests in both luxury class and standard coach. Luxury seating is aboard restored 1950s era lounge cars and includes access to a champagne toast, complimentary appetizers, and both beer/wine and non-alcoholic drinks for purchase. Guests must be 21+ years old for first class tickets.
Coach seating is perfect for families and kids, with seats grouped in clusters of four around tables inside climate controlled cars. For a more adventurous experience, try booking passage in the open-air car where you’ll get the full sensory experience – smells, sounds, and all – of riding a locomotive up through the mountains.
Trip Duration and Schedules
The Frostburg Flyer offers daily departures from Cumberland, MD to Frostburg, MD all year long. Schedules vary by season so be sure to check the railroad’s website when planning your trip.
- Leaves Cumberland at 11:30 AM on Saturdays
- Departs at 1:00 PM on Sundays
- Weekday times vary
Total ride duration is approximately 3.5 hours round-trip with 90 minutes for your layover in Frostburg. On the return leg, the train usually arrives back in Cumberland just before 1 PM. For guests looking for a longer day trip, combine your train ticket with renting a bicycle in Frostburg to coast all the way back down to Canal Place in Cumberland along the scenic Great Allegheny Passage trail.
Planning Your Trip
Riding the rails over mountainous Western Maryland aboard the Frostburg Flyer is an experience both kids and adults will treasure. Prepare for your adventure with these trip planning tips:
- Purchase Tickets in Advance
Seats book quickly, so reserve your tickets early through the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’s website. Both print-at-home or mobile tickets are available. Book at least two weeks ahead to avoid tickets selling out.
- Arrive 45 Minutes Before Departure
Allow extra time to park, walk to the station, browse the gift shop and use the restrooms before the train boards.
- Dress for the Weather
Check the forecast and dress accordingly. The open-air cars can get quite cool, especially after dark, so bring layers.
- Cash for Food & Drinks
While credit cards are accepted at the visitor center and gift shop, onboard concessions only take cash. Hit the ATM beforehand.
- Camera at the Ready Capture photos of the fall foliage, mountain vistas, and your family making memories while on this iconic Maryland train ride.
With its rich history and captivating scenery, the journey between Cumberland and Frostburg is considered one of the most scenic train trips in Maryland and the East Coast. Book your tickets today aboard the Frostburg Flyer!
More Trip Ideas and Attractions
While the highlight is undoubtedly the train ride itself, extend your Maryland getaway with these trip additions:
This college town in the mountains has a young spirit and vibrant Main Street lined with restaurants, bars, antique shops and more. Grab a bite, snap some selfies with street murals, and get to know the area during your extended layover. The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’s Frostburg Depot building also houses a railway museum.
Canal Place Heritage Area
Cumberland’s Canal Place is home to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Station as well as the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park’s Cumberland Visitor Center. Interpretive displays at the Visitor Center showcase the canal’s history. Just steps away, walk along the restored canal towpath. Mules once trod this very path pulling barges filled with agricultural products and coal to market in Georgetown.
Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail
Bring or rent a bike and return to Cumberland via this iconic rail trail instead of the train. Mostly downhill, this leisurely ride back provides great views. The well-graded, crushed stone path travels along the old railroad corridor and the trailhead starts across from the Frostburg Depot.
Rocky Gap Casino Resort
Try your luck at slots and table games at this casino and golf resort located near the Maryland/Pennsylvania border. The property features a hotel, spa, restaurant, and an events center that hosts concerts and entertainment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where does the train depart from?
- The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is located in Cumberland, MD. Specifically, the station lies in the downtown Canal Place heritage district near the intersection of Harrison St and Canal St.
How long is the train ride from Cumberland to Frostburg?
- The train ride itself over the 32 miles of track takes approximately 90 minutes one-way. Total trip duration with the layover is around 3.5 hours.
Are food and beverages available for purchase onboard?
- Yes! A snack bar car provides food, snacks, and drinks for sale using cash only. Alcoholic beverages are also available within the first class lounge and dining cars. Outside food and non-alcoholic drinks are allowed.
Do children receive a discounted rate?
- Yes, reduced fares for kids ages 2-12 are offered online when booking tickets. Little ones under age 2 ride for free. Discounted senior and military tickets are also available.
What do guests do during the layover in Frostburg?
- Frostburg offers plenty of restaurants and shops that are just steps from the train platform. Grab a quick bite or take an hour to stroll the town visiting Main Street storefronts. The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’s Frostburg Depot building also contains a railway museum to explore.
What happens if it rains during my train trip?
- Trips operate rain or shine! The majority of seating is indoors within climate controlled coach cars. If needed, the open-air cars have clear vinyl curtains that can enclose the sides. Guests may stand under overhangs at the Frostburg Depot during the layover if rain showers pass through.
With its rich railroad history and captivating mountain scenery, a journey on the Frostburg Flyer train between Cumberland and Frostburg offers visitors to Western Maryland an unforgettable experience. Travel over steep mountain grades, through tunnels and alongside rivers on this scenic 32-mile rail route. Be sure to book your tickets early as these excursions often sell out, especially during the peak months of September and October. With various classes of service and scheduled offerings year-round, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad provides the perfect ride for all ages whether visiting solo, as a couple or family. Prepare for stunning vistas and railway magic aboard Maryland’s favorite mountain train!