Full Steam Ahead with the Hill Country Flyer
All aboard! Ride the rails on a historic route running along the first line built from Austin to Burnet. The Austin Steam Train Association runs tourist trains through the Hill Country with views of small towns, quarries, rural homes, and highway intersections. The trains run most weekends with stops in Burnet or Bertram, depending on which one you board.
The historic Hill Country Flyer takes you on a 66-mile round trip from Cedar Park to Burnet with a brief layover in Burnet for lunch and shopping. Riders cross the wooden trestle bridge over the South San Gabriel River and Short Creek Canyon. Be careful on Saturday's train, however. You might just get caught up in a Wild West shootout just off the courthouse square in Burnet. The Burnet Gunfighters’ Wild West shows run from September through June.
The Bertram Flyer takes a shorter journey from Cedar Park to Bertram. A 15-minute layover in Bertram gives you just enough time to tour the fully restored 1912 train depot there. The Bertram Flyer runs on a seasonal schedule. All seats are reserved and preassigned.
The train offers four classes of service on most routes: Excursions Coach cars, First Class Coach, First Class Lounge cars, and Adults-Only First-Class Lounge cars.
The Austin Steam Train Association hosts fun events throughout the year:
- Day Out With Thomas transforms the Burnet Depot into Sodor, home of Thomas the Tank Engine and all of his friends. After a 25-minute train ride with Thomas, guests return to the depot to meet Sir Topham Hatt and enjoy an array of activities, including arts and crafts, photo opportunities, storytelling, videos, and live music.
- The Pumpkin Express takes riders to Bertram for 30 minutes to pick a pumpkin from the Depot Pumpkin Patch, have a chat with Farmer Brown, and take a tour of the train depot — apple cider included! The ride is three hours round trip with a 30-minute layover.
- The North Pole Flyer is a special holiday excursion with a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Guests can enjoy all-you-can-drink hot cocoa and locally baked cookies. The ride is two hours round trip with no layover. The event sells out as early as October, so purchase your tickets far in advance.
Check out the Austin Steam Train Association's website at austinsteamtrain.org for more information or to purchase tickets.
Editor Daniel Clifton contributed to this article.
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