From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Public-images-osm logo.svg obstacle
Obstacle-Dense vegetation.JPG
Objective obstacles in a path (or highways) that difficult the passability. Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
Group: properties
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasmay be used on relations
See also
Status: in usePage for proposal

The goal of this tag is to mark obstacles which are not derived from the properties of the road (surface, material, width, etc.) but from its environment or local properties; similarly, marks places where a way (most often waterways) have environmental obstacles. This tag can be used in a navigation application to avoid areas or use parts of the road with lower priorities when calculate routes, similarly to bumps, ferries or non-free roads, but it can be used on paths for non-vehicles.

This key is also used by Humanitarian OSM Team.

See also the more common key barrier=*, used to map single barrier points on roads and paths, including logs, blocks, debris and ditches.


This key has been proposed, but the most frequently used values are not covered by the proposal. Please help document what these values mean and where they come from.

General use

Values from taginfo
Value Usage Count Meaning Alternatives Ways Project Image
vegetation node


Movement on route is hard due to the vegetation (shubs, dense grass, nettle, lianas etc.), movement is significantly slowed down or you have to move carefully. highway General Obstacle-Dense vegetation.JPG
fallen_tree node There are multiple fallen tree (lumber) that completely hinders passability, usually along a path, and you only can continue the path if you cross them (above, below, or detour around them). For a single tree you are suggested to use barrier=log. See #Fallen tree below. highway General Obstacle-Fallen tree.JPG
unevenness way node To follow the trail you must use hands and it cannot be avoided. see discussion highway General Obstacle-Unevenness.JPG
precipice node way There is an important precipice alongside the trail (at least one side) that your eyes can't avoid see if you look forward and you see the falling. There are a minimal risk of falling, but it's an important difficulty for people with dizziness. You can't move over away from the precipice and take out it of your visual field. highway General Obstacle-Path with precipice.JPG
heap node There is a large heap of material (soil, rock pile, rubbish heap, etc.) making the movement difficult. highway General Obstacle-Heap.JPG
hole node There is a large hole or holes on the road making the movement difficult or dangerous by smaller vehicles. highway General Obstacle-Hole.JPG
yes node way undefined (or "other") environmental factors make moving on the route difficult use a more specific tag highway General

OpenSeaMap use (obsolete)

Values as of 2015-06-15 according to taginfo
Value Usage Count Meaning Alternatives Ways Project Image
bridge 2320 (Old tagging scheme not used by OpenSeaMap) ? waterway OpenSeaMap
lock 695 (Old tagging scheme not used by OpenSeaMap) lock=*, waterway=lock_gate waterway OpenSeaMap
? (Old tagging scheme not used by OpenSeaMap) barrier=* + access=no
line 476 (Old tagging scheme not used by OpenSeaMap) ? waterway OpenSeaMap
ferry ? 44 (Old tagging scheme not used by OpenSeaMap) route=ferry waterway OpenSeaMap
drawbridge 24 (Old tagging scheme not used by OpenSeaMap) bridge:movable=drawbridge waterway OpenSeaMap
tunnel 24 (Old tagging scheme not used by OpenSeaMap) tunnel=* waterway OpenSeaMap


If you use the obstacle=* you can give more details about it by using

Count Key Value
obstacle_description=* The short and precise description of the obstacle (eg. "nettle", "dug hole", "rubbish" [heap])

Related tags

Specific cases

For various point-like obstruction features you should check barrier=* first: the key often contains both individual objects (like a wall) or independent environmental barriers (like a log), and may be more widely used than using obstacle=*. You cannot use barrier=* for longer segments of a way obstructed by the environment: for that purpose obstacle=* may be a better fit (unless you intend to map all obstacles individually).

Fallen tree

For a single fallen tree you should use a barrier=log node.

obstacle=fallen_tree tagging is more fitting to a way continuously covered by large amounts of fallen trees (like a not cleaned narrow valley road). If it's a tree which could be used as a way (bridge) please use highway=path + surface=wood (and optionally bridge=yes) instead.

Do not use this tagging on "fresh" or "temporary" fallen trees; if a tree is visibly there for years or you reasonably expect it to stay there for years to come then tag it, but try not to tag trees which will be cleaned up (or cut) soon.

Hole and heap

These are usually nodes. It is possible that a large hole or heap have a size beyond 5 meters and could be tagged on a way; avoid tagging it as an area because it would make it nearly impossible to use for navigational applications. (A 10 meter hole or heap technically make the road disappear and people usually expected to go around it, creating a new path without hole or heap.)

Please also consider the tags hazard=hole, hazard=bump.

Temporary obstacle

It is possible to record the periodic, regular obstruction by using conditional restrictions. For example in the case of an overgrown road during vegetational season:

but this is usually redundant if it logically infers from the key (vegetation almost always grow from spring to autumn). If a road is infrequently or irregularly cleared then the intermittent=yes notation also can be used.

See also

  • barrier=* - A barrier is a physical structure which blocks or impedes movement. This key is more common