Mason Trail
Fort Collins, Colorado
Open. 4.5 miles opened in 2006.
The Mason Trail is one component of a trans-
portation corridor that currently includes an active freight rail
line and local roads, and which will eventually also include a
dedicated bus rapid transit guideway. The trail is 4.5 miles long
and runs on the western side of a BNSF corridor for most of
its route, although an at-grade crossing shifts the trail to the
eastern side of the corridor at one point. Passing through an
urbanized section of Fort Collins, the rail line sees frequent use
with approximately 11 to 20 trains per day traveling between
and 40 miles mph. The full width of the corridor ranges
from 100 to 200 feet.
The City of Fort Collins spent just over $1 million
acquiring the land for the Mason Trail. Much of the cost was
incurred in purchasing easements from adjacent homeown-
ers’ associations. BNSF required the city to adhere to its fence
construction standards, so most of the trail is separated from
the rail corridor by six-foot-high wooden rail fences with mesh
covering. The total design cost for the trail was more than $4
million which included preliminary and final design work
and environmental assessments. Trail development costs were
covered by a mix of local, state and federal funding sources.
The trail is 12-feet wide with a concrete surface. Much of the
land for the adjacent bus rapid transit (BRT) guideway, which
is currently under construction, was acquired through an
easement from BNSF. The Mason Trail and new BRT lane are
unique examples of a city negotiating with a Class I railroad
for two different transportation uses adjacent to the railroad
The City of Fort Collins recognizes the impor-
tance of providing safe crossings of the railroad tracks. It has
already added several underpasses of the tracks and has plans to
construct a new overpass in the vicinity of a new BRT station.
The new bridge and tunnels have the dual benefit of creating
new connections to popular shopping centers where road cross-
ings do not exist, as well as providing easy access between the
trail and the new BRT stations. Amy Lewin, Transportation
Planner for the City of Fort Collins, emphasized the impor-
tance of this interconnected rail-with-trail and BRT project.
The Mason Trail is just one of two successful rail-with-trail
projects in Fort Collins. The Power Trail runs within an over-
head electric utility corridor parallel to active Union Pacific
tracks about two miles east of the Mason Trail. More informa-
tion on the Mason Trail and the Power Trail in Fort Collins is
available at:
The Mason Trail has been a significant
enhancement for the Fort Collins community
and will be an important complement to the
new MAX bus rapid transit system, opening in
The trail provides a great way to get to
major destinations and activity centers along the
corridor, and also provides convenient access to
other trails in the city’s existing and expanding
trail network.” —Amy Lewin
Amy Lewin, Transportation Planner, City of Fort Collins)