Proposed features/Marked trail

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A better implementation Relation:route exists. See also Proposed features/trailblazed, osmc:symbol=*.

Marked trail
Status: Abandoned (inactive)
Proposed by: *
Tagging: marked_trail=color (red, green, blue, yellow)
Rendered as: This feature should indicate, that this segment is a marked trail with some colour signs e.g. tourist signs/marks


There are many marked trails in the world which are designated for tourists, cyclists etc. and IMO there is no way, how to mark these trails in OSM yet. So I am proposing this simple tagging scheme to note a colour of the marked trail. If this proposal is found good, there is a chance to differentiate between symbols used to mark the trail such as circles, stripes etc. Tourist sign.jpg

Tagged segments/ways should be rendered at highest zoom only with a line colour specified in value. Maybe it should be rendered with some offset from underlaying way or just a semitransparent line. If segment/way carries information in ref or name tag, this should be also displayed (number of cycleway, name of the trail [e.g. in Slovenia]).

Any comments very appreciated as this is really worldwide spread feature and I don't know much more marking systems than in Czechia, Slovakia, Slovenia.


I ML'ed about this a while ago, and no answer seemed to exsist so some tag is needed. I've stuck route= for the moment on a few trails, but the problem is when many trails share 1 bit of track/road/path. The colour is also inportantly usually, as trails are marked in the UK with colours usually. So Many names, many trails, and many colours may exsist on the same way. Would it be OSM accepted to be adding many values to one key, in; this; sort; of; way? Ben 16:03, 8 June 2007 (BST)

I think this should be done with repeating tag - value instead of concatenating with ; because parsing this xml is much more harder and xslt transforms are much more complicated and the information is not structured as it has to be in xml. So a segment with blue and green on it should IMO look like this: ...

 <tag key="marked_trail" value="green">
 <tag key="marked_trail" value="blue">

... I think there should not be problem with xslt transforms or so... What are others opinions? Kubajz 09:08, 10 June 2007 (CEST)

AFAIK in other countries (e.g. Germany), they do not have one system, but many systems, which are combining color and shape of the mark. On the other hand, in Romania for example, all marks were red, but different shape. So, we should think about this issue too. In Czech republic we have four colors only, however, special "educational" trails are available too, not speaking about marked cycle ways (for example in Sumava).

IMHO marked_trail is all right and sufficient, but rules or examples for usage of this attribute should be defined too, e.g.:

If there is only colored system in your area:

  • red
  • blue
  • green
  • yellow

If there is only ,,shape`` system in your area:

  • cross
  • circle
  • square

If there are both systems in your area:

  • red-cross
  • blue-triangle

--Jachymc 09:58, 10 June 2007 (BST)

Might this be better done with the Proposed features/Trail and Proposed features/Network features? --Hawke 00:14, 12 June 2007 (BST)

Proposed trail seems (to me) to be something else, as it replaces current features (and I don't like it), this is something that uses existing ways, so it is both trail or footway and marked_trail. Proposed network is something virtual, not visible on map. --Walley 12:29, 27 June 2007 (BST)

Trail and networks are really something different. Jachym, personally I don't like mixing apples and pears (apples and oranges etc.) as it leads to confusion. After a week you simply do not remember whether color or shape comes first and what is the separator. It is not so flexible. Imagine, in one country is decided to change shape only system to color system and you have to rebuild whole system. Another reason to separate these two tags is the number of symbols needed to display in map. In your version it is c+s+(c*s) - where c is number of colors, s number of shapes - or very special logics to construct from names. In my proposal you need only s shapes, that can be colored using any color you need (if I imagine the use of SVG or similar) or in the worst case (c*s) using static bitmaps - even though it is better about c+s symbols. --Kubajz 12:52, 2 July 2007 (BST)

  • I don't think this proposal is the same as a trail or network. Its for routes/paths/suggested walks etc, its not defining phisical attributes, and its not a network really. Usually round me the forest routes are a colour and have a name. And there are frequently many on 1 path. It is posible to add the same key twice but not by using the interfaces most people use, so I don't think Kubajz's earlier proposal would be the way to go, unless I'm not understanding that correctly. Maybe we need a key that can be varied. so route=, route_2= route_3=. And asuming route_3=xyz then we could add the colour to name seperate. so; xyz_name="oak trail"; xyz_ref="A1"; xyz_colour="blue". This would work the same as a road, where you add the details under each tag, but it would allow many routes on 1 way, by having a semi variable key. (xyz:name= may be neater). Ben 01:34, 12 July 2007 (BST)
  • Numbering keys is terrible thing IMO. OSM decided to use XML as a backend, so I think we should use all benefits it serves. I think all editing tools can be updated to conform with multiple keys of the same name. Imagine you have route_1, route_2 and route_3 on one way (even if I would just define three ways sharing the same underlaying segments) and then you need to delete route_1 - this leads to extra mess - the number loses its substance and therefore the routes can be numbered as anybody is willing. This theory leads to avoid numbering key names as this does not carry additional information. Finally defining 999 xsl templates for 999 routes is another silly thing. --Kubajz 10:39, 16 July 2007 (BST)
  • In my view you only have real world features like pathes,tracks,trails which are described by highway=footway or highway=bridleway, etc. There is discussion to replace these 'highway-tags' by route=trail;foot=yes;horse=yes,etc. I am in favour of this change, but we shouldn't discuss this here. All the 'marked routes' you want to catch in your proposal will if the work is done well all have representatives in highway=.....-tags with additional info on permissiveness. I can imagine you use your signs to fill access-tags like foot=yes or foot=permissive. But IMHO that's all info these signs offer. I don't see why I should know that I will encounter round green marks on a track or trail. I also don't see why you couldn't put these under the network key.rvanderh 22:38, 4 August 2007
you need to know that you will encounter round green marks on a track or trail because they show you where the trail leads. This proposal is not about physical ways, it is about those marks. It simply says no matter what highway type are you walking on, you are on trail marked by that symbol or color. The network tag can be probably used to mark all marked_trails as network=czech_marked_trails for example.--Walley 11:01, 14 August 2007 (BST)
All markings along routes are ment to know 'where the trail/route leads'. There is imho absolutely no differencte between markings along a visual trail and markings along a non-visual trail. In cities I absolutely need the GR/LDP-markings to guide me a route through the cityrocks. Please explain me what is (in essence) the difference between a marked route in a city and a marked route on a mountain ? When I loose the marks I am totally lost in both places.
yes, this is the reason why we need this:)
The essential difference between highway footway etc. and marked_trail is, we need to show this dumb line in a map. I don't know whether this proposal is the best, but it is feasable. If someone thinks it is really unnecessary, tell me a way to place this information into map. I would like to point out, that one marked trail can in fact run on many types of surfaces, therefore it is not appropriate to say one physical way is one marked trail. If we reuse segments of current and create a new way (the marked route) we need to tag it. Propose something feasable before you say this idea is bad. P.S.: Czechia is a country with the highest density of marked trails on the world :] If anybody from abroad wants to see a marked trail in real, I can accomodate him for free in Prague :]--Kubajz 11:53, 7 September 2007 (BST)
  • the best way should be, to mark the ways in a route-relation --Cbm 06:51, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
  • We do need something for marked trails, and this should work:

marked_trail_red=yes marked_trail_green_slash=yes

.AFAICS it should not cause xml problems, and it can handle multiple marks on one path (common!). Pavel 00:54, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Some info about the system in Hungary: shapes and colors are shown on the map with abbreviations. So a trail with a green stripe, a yellow cross and a blue triangle would be marked (abbreviations translated): "G Y+ B▲" (stripe is the default shape). This is not very friendly to foreigners, who have to look up the meaning of the letters, but otherwise works quite well ;). For representing this in OSM, I favor one of the earlier proposals:


This is simple, and similar to how multiple references on the same way are represented. --Szmi 08:18, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

In Germany there are often trail markings with more complicated images, e.g. a black deer on white background or a red boar on yellow and so on. Is there a way to tag these? --R kleineisel 09:06, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

At we have experimental use of slightly modified version of this proposal with tags like this:

 <tag key="marked_trail_green" value="yes">
 <tag key="marked_trail_blue" value="yes">

It allows to use modification for marker shapes

 <tag key="marked_trail_green" value="circle">
 <tag key="marked_trail_blue" value="square">

also using tags for nodes on marked trails with maps or stands

 <tag key="marked_trail" value="map">
 <tag key="marked_trail" value="stand">

Result is here (try to turn on/off "Turistika" layer on layer switcher) --Dido 11:24, 18 March 2008 (UTC)


  • I think it would be easier to use something like highway=trail (or highway=hiking) and additionally an optional key like marking=red;green;whatever. That way it would be easier to create a hiking map like the cycle map, also incorporation the keys Key:sac_scale and Key:trail_visibility.

Furthermore the hiking trails would not show up on normal street maps, like they do it now (because they are tagged with keys like highway=path) --Uhu01 05:08, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

  • IMHO marked trails a a group of ways. All ways belonging to this trail should be tagged as usual, eg. with highway=foot tracktype=grade4 etc. Then they should all be added to the relation. The relation itself will then hold all properties belonging to the marked trail, eg. name, type, operator, symbol. It all exists. We must simply use it. So: no need for an 'marked_trail'.

key value element comment Vorschlag von Status
marked_trail_green=* bar way Grüner Strich auf weißem Grund rudimap (siehe Proposed_features/Marked_trail) proposal
marked_trail_yellow=* dot way Gelber Punkt auf weißem Grund rudimap (siehe Proposed_features/Marked_trail) proposal

--rudimap 13:46, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

USA Marked trails explanation

In the USA, we use a colored vertical stripe painted onto trees next to the trail. If there is no tree, we use rocks or install a signpost. The stripes are 1" wide by 4" high, and are often painted on with a paper stencil. This is pretty standard across the entire United States. If a trail is marked with this standard, it usually means that some government agency or group of people care-for and clear and upkeep the trail.

There are often times many unmarked dirt paths cutting off from these marked trails. Maps that you get from government agencies (state parks, federal parks, local parks) will usually only show the marked trails, and they will color the trail lines on the map in the color of the tree marks. So if you have a trail with purple markings on the trees, the maps that show this trail will color the line purple. There are no limits on which colors to use. I have seen dozens of colors, but mostly limited to the main distinguishable colors.

It is common to see two trails combine for some portion. So you might have trees marked with both orange, and white, or even a third color, then later on they will diverge to their own trails.

Needs in the USA

There is a definite need in the US for maps to be able to show what official trail you are on, and also to distinguish the managed trails from the many unmanaged smaller paths.

Currently, all trails / paths show visually the same in and mobile apps like 'Offline Topo Maps'. This makes it difficult to follow a managed trail and to know where you are. There is no visual distinction between a marked, managed trail and small unofficial or animal paths that are also marked in OSM. Often, many people want to stick to main trails.

Solution Opinion I like the solution given in Proposed features/trailblazed, and it seems active and followed and cared-for. However, I do not understand how this will equate to a Visually different line on standard OSM maps to highlight these managed trails, over non-managed paths. Everything blends together and there are hundreds of trails and no one knows where is most popular and safe to go.

--nyeates1 14:50, 24 May 2012

Nodes: Signposts

Regarding the node values,

 <tag key="marked_trail" value="map">
 <tag key="marked_trail" value="stand">
there are now proposals for tourism=information, information=map/guidepost, hiking=yes that should cover this. See Proposed features/Informationvibrog 07:28, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
thank you for pointing me to this proposal, we are going to use this more general tagging schema --Dido 19:36, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

A simpler tagging scheme for marked trails

I believe a simple trailblazed=yes-scheme will be adequate.

One can imagine extensions for it, such as trailblazed:color=*, trailblazed:symbol=*, trailblazed:number=* (but that can probably be a relation route).

Yes, and the relation route can be tagged color=*, symbol=*, ref=* -- vibrog (talk) 09:37, 4 August 2015 (UTC)

When combining trailblazed=yes with operator=*, that will probably indicate color and symbols as operators have norms for marking (In Norway: DNT use blue paint for trailblazing, NCS code S 1040-B). Using operator here may lead to a problem though, if there is a groomed ski trail in the winter, because there are different operators for the seasons. -- vibrog 06:04, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

For skiing pistes, I've later learned that piste:trailblazed=yes can be used -- vibrog (talk) 09:37, 4 August 2015 (UTC)

There are a lot of mountain trails in Norway which are only marked by cairns (Norwegian: varde), which is a pile of stones. What tag shall I use?

Use trailblazed=yes on ways, add ways to a route or network relation with symbol=cairn. -- vibrog (talk) 09:37, 4 August 2015 (UTC)