Hiking Maps

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This page lists and compares existing OSM maps best suited for mountain hiking.

The objectives are:

  • For hikers to have a synthetic view of what is (or not) included in the existing hiking maps based on OSM data. So that they can choose the map they use according to their current needs and expectations
  • To encourage those who are kindly customizing the map styles and hosting the tile servers (a huge thank you to them !) to continuously improve their map to meet hikers expectations
  • To encourage OSM data contributors to fill in meaningful attributes when editing the map (POIs, sac_scale, visibility, ...) , knowing that these will be clearly highlighted by the most popular hiking maps and help many hikers.

Expected Features

The following features could be expected from a good topographic map dedicated to hiking:


Highlighting relief is of course essential for mountain hiking. This can be achieved by:

  • Elevation contours with labels giving values (proportional to zoom levels)
  • HillShading (can be combined with slope shading to put emphasis on steep slopes)

A combination of both is often necessary to give good results

Trails difficulty (SAC scale)

OSM data offers the possibility to distinguish hiking trails suitable for all (T1) from those reserved to experienced and well equipped hikers (T4-T5-T6). This is a tremendous advantage over any other classical topo map and should as much as possible be highlighted on maps used for mountain hiking.

For a complete description of this tag see the dedicated sac_scale page.

Rendering the 7 different values (empty-T1-T2-T3-T4-T5-T6) can be confusing for the map user so a sensible approach would be to distinguish only 4 categories based on the most common hiker profiles:

  • empty-T1 : suitable for all including small children
  • T2 : suitable for most hikers
  • T3 : reserved to experienced hikers - not recommended with children
  • T4-T5-T6 : reserved to experienced Alpine hikers with specialized equipment

Trails visibility

OSM data makes the distinction between trail visibility and trail difficulty using two different tags. For the good reason that a trail can be hardly visible but without any technical difficulty apart from following the trail. You can also find clearly visible trails but very exposed with serious fall hazards. Therefore both attributes shall be visible on a good hiking map.

For a complete description of this tag see the dedicated trail_visibility page.

Again for the sake of map clarity it would make sense to group the 7 different values in 3 categories:

  • empty-excellent-good : always easy to follow
  • intermediate-bad : sometimes difficult to follow
  • horrible-no : no path to follow - use your orientation skills and/or gps

Trails rendering proposal

Based on the above considerations, below are 2 examples of how hiking trails could be rendered in a way that allows map users to have a clear idea of what to expect on the ground and plan their route according to their capacities.

Proposal for rendering hiking trails on OSM based hiking maps
Another proposal for rendering hiking trails on OSM based hiking maps

Note that the colors used for this proposal matches the one chosen used by https://www.wanderreitkarte.de/ because it has proved to be very efficient once used to them. But any other colors that can easily be distinguished from each other and from the background would do the job.
Another very efficient proposal is the one described in the Elevate theme from Tobias and used by OpenAndroMaps : https://www.openandromaps.org/en/legend/elevate-mountain-hike-theme

Sign-posted Hiking Routes

Local, regional and long distance hiking routes defined through relations should be rendered for a hiking map.

It is even possible to render the signs using the tag osmc_symbol. For a complete definition of this tag see [1] and [2]

If not integrated in the hiking map, it is possible to add waymarked hiking trails as an overlay. Please see http://hiking.waymarkedtrails.org/ . Tile server is available at http://tile.waymarkedtrails.org/hiking/{z}/{x}/{y}.png .

Nature and POIs

All nature elements and infrastructures listed in the Hiking page are of great interest for a hiking map.

Elevation of peaks and saddles shall as well appear on the map at appropriate zoom levels.

Comparative table

Table fully checked for the last time on 06/07/2019.

Maps owners are kindly invited to update this table when improving their map (trail rendering rules, POIs, update frequency, coverage,...).

This table aims at providing a very synthetic overall view. For further information, please add a chapter after this table of use dedicated wiki pages.

Map & Tile server Update Frequency Relief Trails Difficulty Trails Visibility Waymarked Hiking trails Nature & POIs Max Zoom Coverage
Downloadable vector maps (offline maps) with Elevate theme
wiki page
Download maps
~1 month -contours (with Lidar data where available)
7 categories:
-Unknown (Brown)
-T1 (Yellow)
-T2 (Blue)
-T3 (Red)
-T4+ (Black with special linestyles for T5 and T6)
4 categories:
-Excellent or Good
-Bad, Horrible, No visibility
Symbols and very short names (first 3 letters) Very complete set of POIs
Rendering all common landscape features
Vector maps World coverage (By region, variable sizes)
wiki page
Garmin maps
2 or 3 days -contours
4 categories:
-T1 (Red)
-T2 (Orange)
-T3 (Purple)
-T4+ (Cyan)
Not rendered Yes + symbols (hiking routes, but not walking routes) Very complete set of POIs
Not rendering grass lands
18 Most of Europe (not UK, not eastern Europe)
2-5 minutes No contour lines
Hillshading proposed as an overlay (only between N71 and S71 lat)
Localised rendering Not rendered Symbols and very short names (first 3 letters) Standard OSM map 18 World
2 or 3 days -contours
(both between N83 and S69 lat)
Only 3 categories:
-T1(Black dashed line)
-T2/T3 (Brown dashed line)
-T4+ (Redish dotted line)
Hard to see the differences
Not rendered Yes
No symbols but names
Includes walking routes
Many essential POIs missing: saddles (with elevation), viewpoints, shelters, guideposts, drinking water, springs, picnic tables. Parkings only visible at z16
Not rendering cliffs, rocky areas and screes
22 World
wiki page
Garmin maps
~1 month -contours
(often missing beyond N63 and S63 lat)
-colors up to z8
Only 3 categories:
-T1/T2: ........
-T3/T4: ... ... ...
-T5/T6: .. .. ..
Paths not highly visible on the map.
Only 2 categories:
-Excellent to Intermediate (Black)
-Bad to none (Grey)
Proposed as an overlay Some missing POIs : parkings, guideposts, drinking water, waterfalls, shelter names, viewpoints, picnic tables/sites. Bridges barely visible. 17 World
> 1 Month -contours
All categories rendered using text labels Only 2 categories:
-Excellent to Intermediate (dashed lines)
-Bad to none (dotted lines)
Not rendered Most meaningfull POIs
Not rendering grass lands & Rocky areas
15 World
wiki page
1 year -contours
-color up to z15
Only 3 categories:
-T1/T2 (Plain line)
-T3/T4 (Dashed line)
-T5/T6 (Dotted line)
Only 2 categories:
-Excellent to Intermediate (Red)
-Bad to none (Salmon)
Not rendered Some missing POIs: Shelters, Parkings, viewpoints, picnic tables.
Most nature elements except Cliffs
18 Europe
wiki page
> 1 Year - No contour lines !
-hillshading proposed as an overlay
Not rendered Not rendered Proposed as an overlay Missing saddles (with elevation), guideposts, springs, ...

Not rendering screes nor rocky areas.

18 World
https://www.beyondtracks.com/map Weekly - contours

- hillshading

T3 (red) Bad/Horrible (sparse dotted line) Not rendered Many POIs rendered 22 Australia, New Zealand
Quarterly - high definition contours (5m)

- hillshading

6 combinations of difficulty and visibility 6 combinations of difficulty and visibility Path full names. Official paths box with code e.g. "GR-11" and full name. Complete set of POIs. Special attention to refugees, water points, caves, peaks, etc. 17 Pyrenees and Catalonia (North Spain, South France and Andorra)

https://outdoor.tiles.freemap.sk/{z}/{x}/{y}@{s} where {s} is scale 1, 2 or 3



mostly minutely - contours

- hillshading

Not rendered Not rendered Colours, style by network, hiking, bicycle, ski, horse Very complete set of POIs
Rendering all common landscape features
19 Middle Europe


  • Hiking - Describes all attributes related to hiking