This summer we are offering guided handcar tours across 3.5 miles of the Monterey Branch Line through Fort Ord Dunes State Park. These are handcars, meaning you provide the physical effort using your legs and arms to propel the rail vehicle. Each handcar can carry up to four participants, but we require at least two participants over 16 years of age. Each participant must be at least 46 inches tall and under 275 pounds.
Tours begin at the corner of Palm Drive and Marina Avenue, in the City of Marina. After you receive a personalized safety briefing our tour group consisting of 12 handcars will depart south towards Fort Ord Dune State Park. You will be led by trained guides to the front and rear, with speeds varying between 7 and 10 mph for the duration of the excursion. The tour is 45-50 minutes long, and covers about six miles of the Monterey Branch Line.
Choose your team wisely
An important consideration is this experience is not a ride. There are no electric motors or gasoline engines to help you across the route. You will experience the branch line just as railroads worker did in 1890. It is up to your chosen team to propel your handcar over the route by finding friends and family that are capable of the challenge. When choosing your team you will want to consider the physical capability and limitation of your team members. If you do not exercise regularly, then the six mile route may be difficult for you. It will take teamwork to propel your handcar over the steep grades found across the Monterey Branch Line. Avoid filing your car with passive participants. These include children, elderly, and those without the strength to pull the handles and push the pedals up the grades. For each passive participant there should be a strong participant to pick up the slack.
Our fleet consists of 17 handcars, all crafted by our family in our fully equipped fabrication shop in Santa Clarita, California. Each individual handcar has over 400 hours invested into its construction. We fabricate nearly every part you find on the handcars including the hand crafted wood centered wheels, the cast iron gears, seats, and wood storage boxes. We take pride in providing a special experience that you will never forget.
Space is extremely limited and we expect demand to outstrip available space. The Transportation Agency of Monterey County is allowing us to operate for a maximum of 30 days. We will do our best to accommodate as many participants as we can, but not everyone will be able to ride. We are not accepting bookings at this time as we will make a determination of when to start operating based on COVID19 infection rates. Tentatively, we are planning on operating August 1 – August 30. We strongly suggest you join our email list so you can be the first to be notified when our excursions are available for booking.
This is a 100% outdoor experience so the risk of disease transmission is negligible. We are further mitigating risk through operating policies so we can keep our guests safe.
- We are not mixing groups of unrelated participants on handcars. Your handcar is for your family or group only.
- We require face masks to be worn while in our station. However, they maybe removed at departure.
- We will clean handcar touch surfaces between tours.
- We are lengthening the dwell time between excursions to ensure there are not excessive crowds in our station area.