A difficulty rating scheme for hiking trails
This is part of a classification scheme for hiking trails, this key describes attributes regarding difficulty.
It is based on the Klassifikation des Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) (in german) since there is no internationally standardized classification schema.
All properties that deal with trail visibility and orientation have been extracted to a separate key trail_visibility=*
- highway=footway In most cases footways are designated by footway traffic signs. Please do not use the footway tag for mountain hiking trails.
Suggestions, not part of the original voted proposal
- It is suggested not to use this tag on path not used for hiking or climbing.
- Be aware that many renders show all paths (even Via Ferrata/Klettersteige) as dashed line. Consider an appropriate name for the way.
- Tracks can carry a sac_scale tag if they are hiking trails/paths that are wide enough to carry a vehicle, if commonly (dual-)used for hiking or maked with hiking signs (Alpenverein, tourist authority). Generally the sac_scale of a track should be hiking or rarely mountain_hiking (if hazardous/slippery, map navigation required, etc.)
As this is a more or less direct translation from the Swiss Alpine Clubs hiking difficulty accessement, this is generally suited for mountaineous areas. For non mountaineous regions, other difficulties and requirements are present and therefore other scales should be used. E.g A way in a forest that is difficult to walk because of muddy ground and trees or bushes making walking difficult does not classify for T2. Other keys need to be used to describe it's condition.
Most hiking trails that are found in maps fall into the T1 and T2 category. In low mountain ranges ways are often T1.
Often mappers in OSM have mapped T1 or T2 trails as T4 therefore some more notes to help understand what the below words mean.
Alpine: Alpine areas are posing the hiker greater difficulties. Exposed sites, boulders and debris, remoteness, high altitude, the possibility of rapid whether changes and often pathless routes that may change depending on conditions and time of the year are all factors that make up alpine regions. Note that just because a way is at high altitude but well maintained (e.g. cablecar nearby that carries tourist up to the Gornergrat ) means that even though a way is in alpine surroundings, the way itself should not be classified T4-T6. In alpine areas dangers such as avalanches, creveases, falling rocks or ice mean that the difficulty of a way is not the way alone, but also the requirement to know how to handle such situations.
Mountaineering Boot:Mountaineering boots are much heavier and stiffer than the popular and lighter trekking or hiking boots. The have a thicker rubber sole and are torsionally stiffer. They are not only compatible with crampons but are stiff enough to make it comfortable to walk for hours with crampons (Trekking boots on the other hand require strap-on crampons). They enable the hiker to kick steps into hard snow. They often consist of an outer and a liner which can be taken out for drying. 1
The illustration images have been provided by Marco Volken, member of the SAC trail classification working group.
|sac_scale=hiking||T1 yellow||Trail well cleared||Area flat or slightly sloped, no fall hazard||None|
|sac_scale=mountain_hiking||T2 red||Trail with continuous line and balanced ascent||Terrain partially steep, fall hazard possible||
|sac_scale=demanding_mountain_hiking||T3 red||exposed sites may be secured with ropes or chains, possible need to use hands for balance||Partly exposed sites with fall hazard, scree, pathless jagged rocks||
|sac_scale=alpine_hiking||T4 blue||sometimes need for hand use to get ahead||Terrain quite exposed, precarious grassy acclivities, jagged rocks, facile snow-free glaciers||
|sac_scale=demanding_alpine_hiking||T5 blue||single plainly climbing up to second grade||Exposed, demanding terrain, jagged rocks, few dangerous glacier and névé||
|sac_scale=difficult_alpine_hiking||T6 blue||climbing up to second grade||Often very exposed, precarious jagged rocks, glacier with danger to slip and fall||
|Tag||SAC Scale (as seen on ground signs)||Osmarender||Alpine Paper Maps (Austria)|
|sac_scale=hiking||T1 yellow||solid red||solid red|
|sac_scale=mountain_hiking||T2 red||dashed red||dashed red|
|sac_scale=demanding_mountain_hiking||T3 red||dotted red||dashed red|
|sac_scale=alpine_hiking||T4 blue||solid blue||dotted red|
|sac_scale=demanding_alpine_hiking||T5 blue||dashed blue||dotted red|
|sac_scale=difficult_alpine_hiking||T6 blue||dotted blue||dotted red|
Reasons to use it
- Especially for mountain trails, it is crucial to know wether a trail can be done in sneakers or wether you need an ice axe and climbing irons.
- Since Google Maps and the like are pretty unusable for hiking (because they denote only very few trails), this is a region where OSM can be of great value soon and for a long time.
- Many mountaineers already utilize GPSs. It would be great to win as many of them as possible as contributers to OSM.