Joy Rails Railbikes: Pedaling Along Unused Railroad Tracks in Coquille, Oregon

Railbike Pedaling on Old Railroads

The Oregon Coast is a tapestry of windswept beaches, dramatic cliffs, and charming towns. And now, nestled amidst the natural beauty is a new type of adventure waiting to be experienced: Joy Rails in Coquille. Here, you won’t be a passive observer in a car, instead, you’ll be the driving force, pedaling your way through a breathtaking slice of Oregon’s countryside.

Coquille is just a little more than 2 hours from Eugene. Along the way, whether you take highway 101 south from Florence or travel south down I-5 from Eugene and then west on Highway 42, the drive is all about immersing yourself in the scenery. And once you get to Coquille, you can immerse even more by hopping on a railbike and pedaling into the heart of the Coquille Valley.

An Adventure on Four Wheels (Well, Kind Of)

Imagine a 4-wheel, 4-seat recumbent bicycle (the kind you ride from a reclining seating position) straddling a railroad track. That railbike is your chariot for the Joy Rails experience. Accommodating up to four people each, these pedal-powered vehicles are perfect for a family outing, a group of friends, or even a romantic date (just be prepared to share the pedaling duties!).

Before we started out, the friendly staff at Joy Rails provided a quick safety briefing and ensured we all had safety vests. Then, with a mix of excitement and anticipation, we climbed aboard our railbike. The moment the wheels started rolling, I felt a sense of excitement and relaxation, moving across the tracks, feeling the breeze, hearing the birds, seeing the sites, and being up close to scenery you normally see only from a car window.

Joy Rails was formerly known as Oregon Coast Railriders. The adventure works because Joy Rails leases unused railroad tracks from the Port of Coos Bay These are tracks that trains don’t travel on anymore, so there is no risk of a train coming by. A business like Joy Rails helps preserve and give new life to these old tracks that are no longer active. Rather than being torn out or left to deteriorate, they provide fun seekers with a new way to experience the countryside. 

The new owner of Joy Rails, Ben Mowatt, cuts the ribbon to welcome the first group of riders.

Joy Rails owner Ben Mowatt was formerly working as an accountant in New Hampshire when he and his family took a similar railbike ride on train tracks in his area. He started looking around for similar railrider experiences in other parts of the country and found that Oregon Coast Railriders was for sale. He purchased the business and is now looking to set up similar experiences in other areas where there are unused railroad tracks. 

Cruising Through the Coquille Valley

The railbike ride on the Coquille tracks takes about an hour to traverse 6 miles out and 6 miles for the return trip. While 12 miles sounds like a lot, the effort is shared among all four riders. I can’t remember the last time I did any sort of activity for 6 miles, much less 12, but my out-of-shape legs had no problem doing it, and in fact, I wasn’t even sore the next day. There’s a road on one side, but because the tracks are below the embankment, you can’t see it for most of the ride. On the other side, lush green meadows unfurled on either side, dotted with grazing cattle and lots of glimpse of birds. It went by fast. If I could have changed anything, I would have liked the pace of the ride to be a little slower, to be able to soak in the scenery more. Once you get to the end, there’s a port-a-potty for a restroom break. 

More Than Just a Ride

The 13-mile roundtrip journey wasn’t just about pedaling and enjoying the views. Our route took us past a working plywood mill, offering a glimpse into the “back yard” of an industry you don’t normally get to see. We also crossed a scenic log pond. 

Planning For Your Railbike Ride

If you’re looking for an adventure that’s both exhilarating and relaxing, head to Coquille, Oregon and experience the joy of riding the rails. Riders meet at Sturdivant Park in Coquille and rides take place up to three times a day every day except Tuesday and Wednesday. The railbike adventure is $40 per person. If you’re planning to bike with children or older members of your family, be prepared to do a little more pedaling to make up for the other travelers not being as strong. The guides don’t allow kids to ride on laps, so small children who cannot reach the pedals must ride in a car seat attached to the quadricycle seats. Pack a snack, sunhat and sunscreen, sunglasses, and water bottle. Wear shoes and clothing that you can move around in. Bring a camera to capture the stunning scenery, and a sense of adventure. 

Other Railbike Rides in Oregon

The rail ride in Coquille is not the only one! If you love this experience, you can do the same in three other locations. check out the Joseph Branch Rail Riders which hosts six different riding options on the Wallowa Union Railroad. The northeast corner of Oregon, where the Wallowa Mountains and the town of Joseph are located, is a gorgeous area known as “the Oregon Alps” for its snowcapped peaks and grand beauty.

Tillamook, on the northern Oregon coast, hosts two rail riding options in the towns of Bay City and Wheeler. There’s a lot to see in Tillamook, including the famous cheese factory, and a lot of scenic coastal beauty. It’s a great place to take kids.

Finally, you can pedal along the Mount Hood Railroad in Hood River. This ride offers 2-person railbikes with a battery-assisted motor on all bikes. While the other rides range in cost from $30 to $60, this one is $199 to rend each bike for about two hours. The Mount Hood Territory region of Oregon is one of the most beautiful road trips in the US.

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