HO Scale Model Railroad Layouts

If you’re searching for insights on how to build HO scale model railroad layouts, then look no further. Building your first model railroad HO scale layout can be a daunting task. Fortunately, here’s list of exceptional model train layouts that can provide ideas for your own layout design.

All of the HO layouts below use different themes, sizing dimensions and track types to help spark your inspiration. If you’re still in the planning phase, check out HO scale track plans.

All in One HO Scale Model Train Layout

ho scale model train layout called the all in one layout

It’s called the “all in one” ho scale layout because it basically contains every element of a fantastic layout. From tunnels to bridges and scenic mountains, this layout does have it all. Learn how to build your own model train layout.

Forest Themed HO Scale Model Railroad

dense forest theme ho scale model railroad layout

The overall look of the model train layout is that of a dense forest. The scenery was created using a wide variety of materials and gives a strong feeling of a lush green forest with bridges that connect mountains together, large trees and even a shed. The theme can give a model train beginner excellent ideas on how to lay down terrain materials such as grass and how to realistically place trees and build mountains.

Are you struggling to build a model train layout that fits your limited space but still want a functional, realistic and enjoyable layout with all the bells and whistles?

Access step by step directions that you can watch on your mobile phone, computer or print out while building your layout.

Desert Scenery HO Scale Model Train Layout

desert theme ho scale model railroad

In contrast to the other two ho layouts, this one stands out for being completely different but still just as realistic. The theme of the layout is of a desert that contains a bridge, switch tracks and even different gradient levels for the locomotives. It must be a pleasure watching trains move along this realistic desert landscape.

HO Scale Traveling Layout

cliff based model train layout of ho scale

This HO Scale model train layout is from Clarksburg Area Model Railroad Club. This consists of 3 main tracks with two that are DC controlled and 1 DCC. Some facilitating features of this layout are the scenery, trees and especially the mountain cliff and the three suppurate tracks ballast filled trackwork.

HO Scale Permanent Layout

ho scale permanent layout

In terms of power this model railroad from the Clarksburg Area Club is using an MRC DCC controls for the operation of the cars and contains 4 loops that can have a multitude of trains on at the same time based on the DCC controls.  One of the best features that sticks out is the increase per loop in height of the model train layout.

HO Scale Train with Many Locomotives

ho scale with multiple locomotives

The HO train layout photo looks fun with its numerous locomotives and excellent scenery and mountain display but it’s a bit difficult to tell whether this traffic jam can ever get fixed. Learn how to build your own HO train layout.

“The Northland Route” HO Scale Layout

very large 120 footlong ho scale layout

This enormous HO scale layout can fill an entire 16’x40′ room. It’s a prototype layout based on the western Canadian scenic mountains, primaries and urban areas. The track plan is a 200 feet double-track mainline in the shape of a dog bone and contains 120-foot long point-to-point track type with an electrified section. It also features a turntable and transfer table.

Small HO Scale Model Railroad Layout

small scale ho layout
image source

Here’s an example of a small scale ho layout that incorporates a looping track plus a siding. It also contains HO scale buildings and a backdrop for scenery. The loops go under the bridge and then switch back around to go over the bridge. It can also run two trains at the same time using DCC controller.

L Shaped HO Train Layout

L-shaped model train layout design

The L-shaped HO train layout provides an unobstructed view of the running model trains at all times. It consists of two long-distance tracks for longer train runs. It also contains two figure-8 tracks for the shorter train runs and four DC controllers. While this is a relatively simple layout, its model train scenery is nothing short of charming.

HO Scale Trix Express Marklin Layout

marklin layout

This HO scale layout is built for the Trix-Express System from Marklin. It is a highly detailed model train layout with branches and some of these branches intersect. The layout also features a road traffic.

The materials used for this layout scenery are all repurposed materials. It features a thick foliage with several types of trees, along with HO scale buildings such as a railroad station, shacks, wooden houses, storage shed, and concrete arches.

HO Scale Logging Layout

logging layout

This logging train layout is a great inspiration for anyone looking for impressive HO scale model railroad layouts. It is comprised of Peco Code with a hundred turnouts along with the flex track. This layout was inspired by the transition era. A one-inch foam board was used for the scenery. It is made with a number of buildings to create a realistic logging scenery such as a sawmill and a lumber shed. There is also a tunnel and mill pond drainage with details of cascading water.

6×4 HO Scale Layout

6x4 ho scale layout

This 6×4 HO scale model train layout is built using Peco Code 100 set track. This track is inspired by the setting of the Western part of Victoria, Australia. For this reason, it is also based on the Victorian Government Railway infrastructure.

Every detail of this layout is built from scratch such as the vegetation and the river. The latter took up a lot of the space from the track and so there were many bridges that were built. This one specifically features timber trestle bridges. The whole idea of this layout was the creator’s childhood playground: a railway branch line and goods yard.

8×4 HO Scale Layout

8x4 ho scale layout

This is one of the coolest HO scale track plans for small spaces as it features a racing track alongside with it. This layout combined the two loves of its creators: model railway and modern race cars. It is built on an 8-inch by 4-inch main board. This model trail-road track plan features a loop and a goods yard. A great amount of detail adds realism to this layout as it is is made with tunnels, bridges, and HO scale buildings. 

12×8 HO Scale Layout

12x8 ho scale layout

This 12×8 HO scale model train layout is set up in a workshop, taking up half of that space. The initial build of this layout is divided into four components to make it easy to take apart and move to a different location. Due to the intended location of this layout, it is built with multiple leveling. Screw adjusters were used on each leg to make it easy to move or re-positioned as desired.

This railroad layout is set in the 1950s in the northwestern part of New Mexico. It also features a few buildings such as a sawmill, cattle ranch, beef processing plant, a planning mill, and oil distribution center. The backdrop was also added to help set up the environment.

HO Scale Nevada Carson City Theme Layout

Nevada themed model train layout in ho scale

If you are looking for the best HO scale shelf layouts, this retirement project by the creator is an excellent start. This HO scale model train layout is set in Carson City, Nevada, specifically during the booming era of the city in the 1800s.

This model train layout is specifically set in the Comstock area. The passenger train passes through two communities and it features a variety of buildings to add realism. Among these HO scale buildings are a church, a saloon, a workshop, and more.

8×13 HO Scale Layout

8x13 ho model train layout

This HO scale layout took 6 months to build. It is set in New England in the 1950s or 1960s. It was built into a corner of a garage with a measurement of 8 inches on one side and 13 inches on the other. The model railroad layout is built on casters with wheels in order to make it easy to move while working on the build.

The details of the layout is quite extensive with trees and a river. It also features a mountainous terrain that are made with styrofoam. It is equipped with an electrical system to allow lighting and to power some of the accessories. This layout features three loops.

HO Scale Waterfall Layout

ho scale waterfall layout

List this as one of the most stunning HO model railroad layouts ever built. It is a single line model railroad track with a picturesque view that is teeming with realistic details. The waterfall is the most notable detail with water cascading down a shale rock formation near the opening to a tunnel and a nearby bridge that runs over the track. The lush scenery and the turquoise river also set the imagery for this layout, along with the city roads and the buildings.

7×7.5 HO Scale Layout

7x7.5 ho scale layout

This HO scale model railroad layout took approximately a year to build. It started with building and painting the benchwork. The layout is small measuring 7×7.5 inches. The majority of the buildings featured on this layout scenery are made from scratch.

The creator of this layout was inspired by actual historic buildings such as the barn and the engine house. These buildings give this layout its character; it has a small-town feel to it.

12×9 Lumber HO Scale Layout

12x9 ho layout

This HO scale lumber railroad track plan is built within a 12×9 ft room. This model railroad runs point to point with an extra helix to ensure that the train can keep running for hours and hours. The benchwork for this layout is a 1×3 inch wood frame with 2×2 inch legs. The height of this train layout is 40 inches.

The foam board is glued onto the surface before the flex track is added. The track can go up to 46 inches from the lumber camp and mine. Other details of this model railroad include a station, an engine facility, a shop, and other wood-related industrial buildings.

HO Scale Long Run Straight Track Layout

HO scale straight track for a long run
Image credit – @Floris.ruijters/Instagram

This HO scale layout features a lengthy straight track that’s perfect for allowing locomotives to move faster. The layout uses FastTrack straight track. This guides the train through a detailed village in the middle of the layout. The model train scenery consists of houses, a church, and a windmill. The lush greenery adds depth and realism. For your layout, consider using straight tracks so your locomotives can accelerate across the track.

HO Scale Realistic Scenery

HO scale realistic model train layouts
Image credit – @millvalleysub/Instagram

This HO scale model train layout features a realistic, curved track surrounded by detailed scenery including textured ground cover and seasonal trees. A yellow structure adds a point of interest, implying activity. The design is ideal for anyone looking for model railroad scenery ideas.

What is HO Scale Narrow Gauge?

Narrow Gauge refers to any railroad that does not comply with the standard four feet and eight half inches. Narrow gauge and standard gauge are the same scale, but use a different gauge. A narrow gauge railroad has the rails closer together. It’s used in areas where passing is difficult due to geographic restrictions such as mountainous areas and forests areas.

HO Model Train Tracks

Plastic road bed tracks, there is a lot of different manufacturers making plastic roadbed track and it’s used mostly on the floor but can also be used on a bench as well.
Some of the plastic roadbed tracks for HO Scale include the following:

Bachman EZ Track

This track comes in code 100 rail and contains a wide curve to it. The Bachman EZ Track also uses huge clips to hold it together, which makes it robust when you first buy it. The main issue is that after taking it a part a couple of times the connectors can break and ruin the track.

Atlas True-track

atlas true track

Using the Atlas True-track, the biggest drawback is the actual thickness of the track, which causes it to not be able to connect to snap track without shimming it down a bit.

Kato Unitrack

kato unitrack

The Kato Unitrack uses a smaller rail joiner that ‘s encased in the plastic connector. This allows you to literally just snap it on together without having to deal with a lack of thickness problems.

Free Track PlansClick Here