US National Park Service Tagging: Trails

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Transportation

Roads and trails will follow multi-modal transportation principles, which suggest that a LBS provider can serve mechanical and non-mechanical navigation solutions within the same architecture. Roads and trails have been digitized such that topology rules allow navigation on road, to a parking lot, and onto the trail. Each type of linear travel category (roads, parking lots, and trails) exist within the same node-topology network.

The National Park Service ONLY publishes trails data which reflects trails shown on the Official Park Trail Map. The National Park Service does not, and strongly discourages others from, publishing trails data via any medium that does not reflect an officially maintained trail. Publication of such data can lead to visitor injury or death, and this situation does occur in National Parks.

This example covers the most detailed trail tagging we encounter, with some restrictions. NPS trails are tagged with highway tags and not footway tags.

Trail Names

National Park Service employees are only authorized to use the OFFICIAL Trail name when publishing ANY mapping data for park trails. Trail names should reflect the trail name shown on the official park trail map, aka the "Harpers Ferry Map" (all official NPS maps are produced in Harpers Ferry). Therefore, NPS trails should be tagged with "Name"

and "Official Name"

Access Restrictions

Access restrictions on a park trail can be mind-numbing, and we are adopting a what make sense approach to trail access in order to avoid "over tagging" trails. For example, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we don't see a lot of snow, and therefore, don't think it's necessary to include

Horses

Horse trails are a big recreation activity in many parks so we're paying extra attention to the difference between hiker-only and shared-use stock trails: Horses and Hikers:

Note the important distinction that a horse trail is a "bridleway" and not a "path"! The * horse=yes is required in addition to validate the access. Include * foot=yes if hikers are allowed as well. Generally * motor_vehicle=no should be default. Optionally include width=12' 6" and structure=* if the horse trail segment includes any of the legal structure types for a segment.


[Example of trail that allows horses]

No Horses (Regular Hiking Trail)

[Example of trail with horse prohibition]

Note that we are not using access=designated to imply recreation use, such as foot=designated !

Bicycles and Motor Vehicles Restricted

Unless signed otherwise, all NPS trails should be tagged:

Bicycles Allowed

A designated bike trail which is not part of an automobile transportation network would be highway=track and bicycle=yes whereas a bike route which is part of or immediately abutting an automobile transportation network would be tagged as highway=cycleway and bicycle=yes. In addition, NPS Places also optionally captures for cycle ways surface=*, lit=*, width=*, oneway=*, and structure=*.

Footway

Different from highway=path a footway is a more "urbanized" trail and would include for example a paved path around a historic battlefield. Use highway=footway for these cases. In addition, NPS Places also optionally captures for foot paths surface=*, lit=*, width=*, oneway=*, and structure=*.

All Terrain Vehicles

Trails which allow ATV's and 4WD vehicles would be tagged as highway=track and atv=yes. In addition, NPS Places also optionally captures for ATV Trails surface=*, tracktype=*, maxspeed=*, oneway=*, and structure=*.

Dirt Bike Trails

A dirt bike or motocross trail would be tagged as highway=track and motorbike=yes. In addition, NPS Places also optionally captures for Motorbike Trails surface=*, tracktype=*, maxspeed=*, oneway=*, and structure=*.

Pedestrian Paths

highway=pedestrian can be confused with highway=footway and there exists no guidance for determination of when to use one or the other in NPS Places. In addition, NPS Places also optionally captures for pedestrian paths surface=*, lit=*, width=*, oneway=*, and structure=*.

Snowmobile Trail

Snowmobile trails would be tagged as highway=track and snowmobile=yes. In addition, NPS Places also optionally captures for Snowmobile Trailssurface=*, tracktype=*, maxspeed=*, oneway=*, and structure=*.

Ski Trails

Ski trails would be tagged as highway=track and and ski=nordic for cross-country and ski=alpine for downhill.

Surface

In some cases, trail surface may not be implied or assumed. We recommend

for most NPS trails, except where they are paved and/or graveled.

Difficulty

The National Park Service does not rate trail difficulty due to the liability associated with a subjective rating. OSM mappers are encouraged to work with park hiking clubs to capture this data.


Is it a road or a trail?

A gated road closed to all public access, that is considered part of a trail (system, segment, or network), should be tagged as a trail. Many park system trails are legacy road beds, but emergency vehicle use may be authorized. Tagging a "double-track" as road, when the public authorized use is trail only, could come to the attention of Wilderness Designation advocates and opponents, and throw a monkey wrench into a parks effort to designate a wilderness boundary. Emergency roads are allowed in designated wilderness, however, mapping them as roads is frowned upon. Many have commented that tagging such ways as roads is needed for emergency access. Rest assured, first responders know exactly where they can drive a vehicle in a park!


Topology

Trail segments should be continuous except where tags change and/or trails end and start. Trail nodes should be joined with road node where they meet or cross.

Geometry

Like roads, if trails are sourced from NPS GIS data, they will contain many more nodes than is appropriate for OSM. Simplify accordingly, please!


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