After a couple of lackluster years, a lot of people are hoping for beautiful foliage this fall across our region. It's not too early to plan how you will see the colors.

Even though the River Gorge Explorer tours were discontinued, you have other options such as train rides at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

Operations supervisor Steve Freer says business in the summer is usually good, but always picks up when the leaves begin popping with color.

"Fall is always a popular time to ride trains. We have special excursions, as well as our regular daily trains. It's always a draw," says Freer.

The museum has been offering rides through Chattanooga's Missionary Ridge for 50 years. Newer adventures take you through the Hiwassee River gorge, parts of Cherokee National Forest, and northwest Georgia.

Freer says the trains offer unique views of fall foliage, and all you have to do is sit back and relax. Some trains even have lunch cars, and one of them offers a panoramic view through a clear rooftop.

"It's a different perspective, and you are going a bit slower on the train than you would in an automobile. So, it's a little more leisurely," explains Freer.

The trains move at about 20 miles per hour and, on average, can hold 150 people.

In the Tennessee Valley, colors typically peak around November 1. To get the best colors we need plenty of sunny October days that aren't too hot, lots of cool, crisp nights, and non-windy days so the leaves stay on the trees.

Johnny Harrington says he used to walk along these tracks as a child and took a ride on one of the trains back then. This is the first time for his girlfriend, M.J., and young nephew, Lionel.

"It was amazing," says Lionel. 

"A lot of beautiful views," says M.J. "Of course, it's the Scenic City. So I got to see a lot of things on the ride that we wouldn't get to see just driving through the city."

They hope to make new memories this fall.

"His [Lionel's} sister hasn't come, my daughters and her [M.J.'s] daughters. We're just going to go ahead and make a family trip out of it," says Harrington.

Train rides are a year-round business for the museum, but Freer says you shouldn't wait too long to get your seat for the best and busiest time of year.

"It's always a good idea to get your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment," urges Freer.