Proposed features/trailblazed=poles;cairns

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Status: Approved (active)
Proposed by: Miramikes
Tagging: trailblazed=yes, no, poles, cairns, symbols
Applies to: way
Definition: trail visibility improving features poles, cairns and symbols
Drafted on: 2021-03-04
Proposed on: 2021-03-07
RFC start: 2021-03-07
Vote start: 2021-03-23
Vote end: 2021-04-06


Proposal of extending trailblazed=* by new values to allow be more specific about way how trail is marked.
At the moment there is only one value trailblazed=yes

Proposal is to add these values:


Part of proposal is also add new tag trailblazed:visibility=* to have possibility add information about quality of marking.
Proposal is to add these values:



Marking trails by poles is traditional way of marking in Czech mountains, Scandinavia, Slovakia, Austria, USA, Canada, Switzerland and probably other places around the world too.
It is very convenient way of marking as this marking is greatly visible in summer time and as well as in winter time compared to other type of marking.
I believe this marking deserves to be mapped as this navigational feature is very important and can be live saving in some situations.

Marking trails by cairns is traditional and natural marking which can be found everywhere around the world and is very commonly used especially on remote trails.
It still having importance as navigational feature and can be even live saving in some situations so I believe it deserve to be mapped.

Poles and Cairns
Both markings (poles,cairns) are quite specific ... these marking not necessary having permanent position ... they can disappear, they can move a bit and there can appear new ones by time.
So there is no sense to map each pole/cairn separately e.g. by GPS position but rather tag path/track which is marked this way.

Symbols are painted trail marks usually painted directly on surface of some permanent, natural or artificial objects like tree, rock, bench or wall for example.
Or they might be colorful labels made from metal, plastic or wood which are firmly attached to other permanent natural or artificial objects.
These trail marks are very usual way of 'modern" marking. They can be used on whole trail or just on section of it.
For this reason they should be tagged on ways rather then relations.

Existing tags and why they are not appropriate

There exists trailblazed=yes tag already, but unfortunately this is not descriptive enough to map these specific cases so I suggest to add new values this tag.
This would give a mappers chance to be more informative about way how markings looks like,

These marking (poles,cairns) shouldn't be mistaken with real trail marking ... purpose of those features is to help navigate a path, track, road in difficult weather conditions
(fog, darkness, heavy snowfall and so on) or where is navigation difficult by nature of landscape (for e.g. very flat terrain with hard stony ground where path, track, road is hardly or no visible)
Even they are also not necessarily along the whole trail, often they are just on sections where they are helpful.
So they are not Key:osmc:symbol

They (poles, cairns, symbols) are different from guidepost. The guidepost usually giving some information about destination, distance to destination, direction and way of marking (often colored) to destination.
Poles, cairns and symbols giving only information ... "path, track, road is leading here ..."
Key:guidepost guidepost are also usually placed on intersections while poles, cairns and symbols are along the path to improve trail visibility.
So they are not Key:guidepost

There exists tag man_made=cairn which I think couldn't substitute proposed trailbazed=cairns in some situations.
man_made=cairn I would prefer to use where one or smaller number of significant cairns appears. Some historical cairns for example.
But in places where cairns improve trail visibility they are there usually in bigger numbers I would prefer trailblazed=cairns as their number can change the same as their exact position.
So tagging them one by one would be very difficult or impossible task.

By it it's name Key:marker could be a tag for mapping trails with poles, cairns and symbols but unfortunately not by it's current usage.
Firstly it is not defined to tag a ways but for nodes ... but that's could be changed possibly.
Secondly these tags currently not mapping markers related to navigation and outdoor activities
So I believe extension of Key:trailblazed would be a better choice.


Tagging trailblazed=* should be done only to section of path, track, road which is really marked.
So it should tag "ways" and it shouldn't tag "relations" for same reason.

Tag Value Description Picture 1 Picture 2 Definition of marking
trailblazed=yes trail is blazed in some way Pce Zielona Ścieżka Zdrowia SDC16520.JPG Trail marker ribbon 01.jpg Any trail marking which will not fit any definition below.
trailblazed=no trail is not blazed Trailblazed no 3.jpg Trailblazed no 4.jpg No trail marking at all.
trailblazed=poles trail is blazed by poles Trailblazed poles 1.jpg Trailblazed poles 3.jpg Trail marking made by erected poles wooden or plastic, colored or natural.

If poles for example having red crosses on top for better vissibility
it still should be tagged as trailblazed=poles.
osmc:symbol=* symbol=* or wiki:symbol=* can be added if there is additional sign on them.

trailblazed=cairns trail is blazed by cairns Trailblazed cairns 1.jpg Trailblazed cairns 2.jpg Trail marking made by piled stones. Stones should be piled up in such manner

that there is not doubt they are man made and they are there for navigational reason.
If a cairn is colored it still should be tagged as trailblazed=cairns.
osmc:symbol=* symbol=* or wiki:symbol=* can be added if there is additional sign on them.

trailblazed=symbols trail is blazed by symbols Tourist trails pl01.jpg Trail marker 02.jpg Trail marking made by colorful symbols painted directly on other objects

like trees, stones, houses and so on.
Or marking made by colorful or natural labels made from metal, wood, plastic or other material
attached firmly to other objects.
osmc:symbol=* symbol=* or wiki:symbol=* can be added if possible.

trailblazed:visibility=* tag can be used as additional tag giving information about trail marking visibilty

Tag Value Description
trailblazed:visibility=excellent next trail marker is always visible
trailblazed:visibility=good next trail marker is usually visible
trailblazed:visibility=intermediate next trail marker is sometimes visible and sometimes hard to find
trailblazed:visibility=bad the trail markers are infrequent and/or can be hard to find/follow
trailblazed:visibility=horrible trail markers exist but are rare or hard to locate
trailblazed:visibility=no trail markers almost not exist and/or they are so rare that they are close to useless


Picture Tag Description
Red crosses mark the winter route in Sylan in Sweden.jpg trailblazed=poles


Trail marking made by poles.

Even there is red cross on top of pole tag it as trailblazed=poles
Because of distance between poles I would tag it as trailblazed:visibility=good
in heavy snowfall or fog poles might not be perfectly visible.
osmc:symbol=red:red_x can be used here.

Trailblazed cairns 3.jpg trailblazed=cairns


Trail marking made by cairns.

Even there is red color on the cairn I would tag it as trailblazed=cairns
Because of distance between cairns I would tag it at least as trailblazed:visibility=bad
and maybe even trailblazed:visibility=horrible
osmc:symbol=red:red_arch can be used here.

Markacija drevo.jpg trailblazed=symbols


Trail marking made by symbol defined by osmc:symbol=*

So it should be tagged as trailblazed=symbols
Visibility of marking is impossible to define by this picture
so just for example trailblazed:visibility=intermediate
osmc:symbol=red:red_round:white_dot can be used here.

Pinhoti trail marker.jpg trailblazed=symbols


Trail marking made by marker attached to the tree

so it should be tagged as tag it as trailblazed=symbols
Trail visibility is unknown.
wiki:symbol=* can be used here.


Here is seen how pole marked trails are displayed on ...

Red crosses beside the path represents poles ... I believe similar way can be cairns and other trailblazed=* rendered too.
I believe that tiny crosses triangles dots (or whatever mapper choose) in offset from actual trail is good way to render trailblazed=*
In this way will be preserved "on map" visibility of original path/track/road and trailblazed=* as well.

Features/Pages affected


External discussions


Please comment on the discussion page.


Voting closed

Voting on this proposal has been closed.

It was approved with 22 votes for, 0 votes against and 3 abstentions.

there were some suggestions for minor improvements as better pictures or improved descriptions

  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Kudlac (talk) 06:53, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Mkyral (talk) 09:38, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. A few details need to be adjusted (e.g. usage on relations), but it's a useful extension of the existing tags. --Mueschel (talk) 09:46, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. It may be necessary to extend rules/description for the tag value 'symbols' to distinguish it from normal marked trails (and not use both tagging) --Tkk (talk) 10:02, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. I suggest adding value "board", see discussion. --Gorn (talk) 10:19, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --phlustik (talk) 13:29, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I abstain from voting but have comments I have comments but abstain from voting on this proposal. what if different routes are trailblazed differently on one path? trailblazed=poles;cairns? How one would guess whichever poles and cairns apply to both, or poles to one and cairns to another? Based on my experience it is common to have some routes signed at given stretch while another is not signed (and still mappable as there are at least guideposts/maps erected along route) Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 14:21, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
No routes (relations) ... this proposal is for use only on ways from beginning. trailblazed=* tag is for "trail visibility improving features", which not necessarily have to be on whole trail.
So if there is a trail route tagged in a common way on relation it can be tagged together with trailblazed=* tagged on some sections on way --Miramikes (talk) 05:15, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
So it is intentional/known issue that if you have say trailblazed:visibility=excellent;no then you are unable to answer which of relations there is trailblazed and which is not? And the same with say trailblazed=yes;no for path where some routes are trailblazed and some not? And yes, I know that putting it on relation is not solving it as trail may have different status across its length... Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 08:46, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
Relations can't be tagged as traiblazed=* ... only ways. So if part of path is trailblazed than there can be appropriate value for trailblazed:visibility=*
There should be a value which says how well is path visible thanks to blazing ... so just one value.
Same for trailblazing=yes;no ... It is not possible ... part of path is blazed or not.--Miramikes (talk) 19:23, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
So in case of multiple routes on one path only the most visible trailblazing counts? Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 20:39, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
I would say yes. Honestly I didn't think about such a case (multiple blazing) till now and I believe it is probably quite rare, but in such case I would vote for this approach.--Miramikes (talk) 21:16, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I abstain from voting but have comments I have comments but abstain from voting on this proposal. I am late to the party, though I would have liked to weigh in on the RFC, with some minor wording bits. All in all, this seems a sound proposal to me with a clear use case in the area where I map. I am quite certain, that I will only ever use this on ways, never on routes. --Hungerburg (talk) 19:56, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
If you wish you can help with polishing definitions and wording after voting. You are welcome.--Miramikes (talk) 18:07, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
I would do away with the value symbols - all of the trails on waymarked-trails overlay have those, it is just the same as "yes", and the word sounds wrong too. I only want to tag cairns :) You seem to be fascinated with poles. Lett the community enhance above those two extras. Anybody not interested in the specifics can still check for (not set or no). Perhaps stop the the voting, do due diligence and restart, I think it will pass then just as easily and have a clearer beginning.--Hungerburg (talk) 21:57, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
Perhaps it would be good, "symbols" value seems to be problematic ... I added it on request from discussion page section "symbol value" --Miramikes (talk) 05:13, 25 March 2021 (UTC)
Retracted my yes for an abstain, I cannot approve the value "symbols"; it makes much more sense with route relations than sections thereof, like poles|cairns does and it is not much more than a synonym for yes. --Hungerburg (talk) 23:24, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
Ways with symbols are not always members of a route. That's why we need a possibility to tag them as trailblazed=symbols.--Jcr83 (talk) 16:41, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
I guess I have been first to tag a trailblazed=cairns path, a week ago; cairns are physical, there may be symbols painted on one of the stones they are made of; with poles the same, there the symbol might also be achieved by extra crossing planks eg.; symbols does not fit into the poles;cairns sequence, like eg. plates or paintwork would. Symbols is another layer of abstraction. Apart from that, I am happy to see the proposal passing the vote. --Hungerburg (talk) 20:57, 1 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I abstain from voting but have comments I have comments but abstain from voting on this proposal. I agree with Mateusz, the trailblazes are belonging to the routes, adding them to the ways leads to problems when multiple routes lead over the same ways. When I have mapped trailblazes, it was usually individual markers, not the generalized property "there are markers somewhere on this way". --Dieterdreist (talk) 22:01, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
?The proposal, as I understand it, is about (sections of) a way that can be seen only by the markers. Of course, multiple routes could also use such a way. The way is then trailblazed=yes or a more specific value; the route relations can have symbol=, colour= and/or osmc:symbol= tags. The tag trailblazed=yes is important because without it the way isn't there. --Peter Elderson (talk) 22:27, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
"there are markers along this way" is great approach where position of markers can change sometimes (when maintained for example) or where is a huge number of them.
Like in Czech mountains ... there is thousands of poles ... that is impossible task to tag them one by one. --Miramikes (talk) 05:36, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
Very first example in section "Examples" ... Is it what you mean? Yes, these tags could be mentioned ... will be done.--Miramikes (talk) 18:12, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. One comment though. I understand, that it makes sense to include trailblazed=symbols. However, this can cause confusion between using hiking relations or just specifying "route" by adding trailblazed=symbols on the specific ways. I am missing disclaimer clearly showing what is appropriate mapping for which situation. --Mar4s (talk) 09:05, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
You are right it must be improved.--Miramikes (talk) 18:15, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Jcr83 (talk) 20:21, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --EneaSuper (talk) 11:15, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. Tag trailblazed=symbols needs a clear differentiation from relation routes. --RobHubi (talk) 17:29, 28 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Maxtar65 (talk) 08:36, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Reino Baptista (talk) 11:34, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --TheBlackMan (talk) 17:12, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Nacktiv (talk) 21:29, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Mashin (talk) 20:35, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --NovaTrails (talk) 04:08, 31 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Fizzie41 (talk) 04:59, 5 April 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --YjM (talk) 12:11, 6 April 2021 (UTC)