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Tagging of Mountain Bike Routes

Trying to get some thoughts together on what needs tagging for mountain bike routes. Feel free to add comments.

What is a Mountain Bike Route?

There's a few things people call mountain biking but here I'm talking about either:

  • a purpose built singletrack exclusively for use by people riding mountain bikes along them. These are built by outdoor centres etc and tend to be between a few hundred metres and several kilometres.
  • a cross-country route through the country side which uses normal paths, roads, tracks etc, but will involve stuff you probably wouldn't want to go near on a road bike. While on such routes you may come across pedestrians, ramblers, cars, horses and the odd rock climber depending on the route.
  • a mixture of the two, ie: sections of purpose built singletrack connected by forest roads.


What Features to Tag?

  • routes often have a grading scheme, ie: double black. This probably varies from region to region though... lots of UK stuff uses green circles, blue squares, red triangles, black diamonds to grade routes.
  • sections of the route may have their own grading.
  • standard highway stuff for cross country routes... this includes use of highway/surface. The surface tag may need more values people may have neglected to add already... rocks,grass,bog,sand
  • useful stuff for mountain bikers: the centres, the car parks, the bike shops.. OSM can already tag this stuff.


  • purpose built bike only single-track as either highway=mtb, or mtb=singletrack -- foot=no
  • where other highway tags are appropriate, mtb=yes
  • for grading mtb_grade=green/blue/red/black/double_black (any other common ones) -- this could be name-spaced with the different grading schemes
  • use route relations over existing highways:
    name=<mtb route name>
    each way can have role being a grade for graded sections (physical features being on the way itself)

Current State of Play

The cycle map will currently render as a green line anything with mtb=yes, or a route relation with network=mtb on it. The name from the relation will also be rendered.