WikiProject Belgium/Conventions/Walking Routes

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WikiProject Belgium +/-

This page summarize some conventions for editing walking routes in OpenStreetMap in Belgium.

Mapping of walking and/or biking routes must be restricted to routes signposted by an official tourism agency that is assigning the node numbers, if any, and writing them to the signs.

In short, walking routes are mapped in OpenStreetMap relations of the type route=*.

Long distance routes (GR)

Mark for a GR route

GR footpaths (Grote Routepaden [1] in Dutch or Grande Randonnée [2] in French) are signed with the usual red/white signs, and can also be found in large parts in western Europe.

Tagging examples (for relations):

Tags Description


The GR 5 path, which runs from Bergen op Zooom in the Netherlands to Nice in France.


The GR AE path which runs from the Ardennes to the Eifel.

RAVeL network

The RAVeL (Réseau Autonome de Voies Lentes) network stretches across Wallonia [3]. These routes are for walking, cycling, horse riding and skating. They're currently tagged as cycle routes (see here, but will need walking route tags as well once.

Walking node networks

A junction in the walking node network of Scheldeland
A sign marking the route you have to follow to a junction in Klein-Brabant

Since the cycle node networks were such a success, walking node networks also started appearing in some places. They work entirely the same as the cycle node networks, but only cover small areas.

The way of tagging is almost the same. A node is tagged like:

Tags Description


A "35" node in the network.

The routes between the nodes are created with relations like:

Tags Description


A route between two nodes. The "note" and "operator" keys are optional. Do not use the "ref" tags, they cause a rendering mess.

When the routes follow different roads in both directions between two nodes, use the proper "forward" and "backward" roles for each relation member. See Relations/Routes for details.

Information on more complex tagging situation (for example two nodes with same node number) can be found on the dutch OSM forum or applied from the extensive article on cycle networks, which to a degree follow the same logic.

Local walking routes

Many walking routes are signed with these small arrows
But the routes are complemented with six-sided signs like this giving the name and distance

With local walking routes we generally mean all other walking routes, which usually make a loop back to its starting point, and can therefore be seen as the same type of route as the themed cycle routes.

Categorizing them may be hard, since every municipality seems to have their own way of signing. Furthermore some other organizations have also put signs all over Belgium. An overview of the local walking routes in Flanders can be found here and for Wallonia here.

Foot and hiking routes are named or numbered or otherwise signed walking routes. A route is a customary or regular line of travel, often pre-determined and publicised. It consist of paths taken repeatedly by various people. A foot route is generally a shorter, easier route. A hiking route is generally longer and/or more strenuous.

To tag a foot or hiking route you create a relation with the appropriate tags and add all different ways of the foot/hiking route to this relation. The order of the ways matters. Please see Relation:route#Order matters

Tags of the relation

Key Value Explanation
type=* route This relation represents a route.
route=* hiking


route=foot is used for routes which are walkable without any limitations regarding fitness, equipment or weather conditions. As a guideline, you could say that ordinary shoes or trainers (at a pinch, even flip-flops) are adequate for this type of walking trail.

route=hiking is used for routes that rather match Wikipedia's definition: "A long, vigorous walk, usually on trails, in the countryside"). As a guideline, you could say that a hiking trail needs walking shoes or hiking boots because you will encounter sharp rocks and/or heavy undergrowth and/or muddy terrain and/or have to wade through shallow streams.

Don't use route=pilgrimage (almost non-existent). Instead, add pilgrimage=yes to a hiking-route.

network=* iwn




International walking network: long distance paths that cross several countries

National walking network: used for walking routes that are nationally significant and long distance paths

Regional walking network: used for walking routes that cross regions and are regionally significant

Local walking network: used for small local walking routes

Useful and tags. These tags are not at all required, but can provided additional and valuable information
ascent=* ascent The ascent covered by a route in meters. If a route has start and end point at different altitude use descent too
colour=* a hex triplet

a css color name

The major colour of the symbol used on the route. Colour code noted in hex triplet format or as CSS/HTML colour name. Example: "#008080" for teal colour in hex triplet, or simply "teal" as a css colour name.
descent=* descent The descent covered by a route in meters. Use it only if it differs from the ascent (different altitude at start/endpoint of a route).
description=* a short description What is special about this route
distance=* distance The distance covered by this route, if known. For information of users and automatic evaluation e.g. of completeness. Given including a unit and with a dot for decimals. (e.g. 12.5 km)
educational=* yes/no When the route is Educational trail
historic=yes When the route is a historic or heritage trail
name=* a name The route is known by this name (e.g., "Westweg")
name:code=* localised name For adding localized names in different languages, add additional name:code=* tags with a suffix on the name key, where code is a language's ISO code.
operator=* operator name The route is operated by this authority/company etc. e.g. "Schwarzwaldverein", "Alpenverein"
osmc:symbol=* * Represents the symbol used on the route. Some renderers uses the osmc:symbol=* to indicate a route on the map.
ref=* a reference The route is known by this reference (e.g. "E1"). Node network routes use ref=mm-nn where mm and nn are the node reference numbers.
roundtrip=* yes/no Use roundtrip=no to indicate that a route goes from A to B and instead of being circular (roundtrip=yes).
signed_direction=* yes/no Use signed_direction=yes to indicate that the route is to be walked in only one direction, according to the signposts on the ground. The ways within the relation should be ordered, as they are used to determine the direction of the signposts.[1]
state=* alternate Sometimes routes may not be permanent or may be in a proposed state. See also the life cycle tags for this usage.
symbol=* symbol description Describes the symbol that is used to mark the way along the route, e.g., "Red cross on white background" for the "Frankenweg" in Franconia, Germany
website=* * Website that describes the route
wikipedia=* language:page title Wikipedia page that describes the route

Elements of a relation

Routes consist of ways that mark where it leads. For hiking and walking relations it will by typically primarily highway=path, highway=footway, highway=track, highway=steps with some highway=cycleway, highway=service, highway=residential. Sometimes also highway=unclassified and other roads higher in road importance will appear.

A route relation may have one or more ways as elements. A route relation can also have other route relations as elements, called parent relation containing child relations or super relations.

Some mappers also add nodes as relation members, e.g. for major guideposts on the route.


Most of the time, elements will be added with an empty role. For recreational route relations, a basic functional role set has been approved, see The approved roles are: main, alternative, approach, excursion, and connection. When no role is set, main is assumed. The roles are applicable to way members and relation members.

way Ways and relation Relations
Role value Explanation
None or main The role value for the main section(s) of a signposted or in any way waymarked route.
alternative A signposted or otherwise waymarked alternative branching off then rejoining the main route at a significantly different point. The alternative is used instead of a section of the main route.
excursion A signposted or otherwise waymarked side track which rejoins the main track at or close to the same point where it left, e.g. to visit a place of interest. The excursion is an optional addition to the main route.
approach Signposted or otherwise waymarked access route to or from transport infrastructure e.g. parking, train station, bus station, cable car. An approach is used in addition to the main route.
connection Signposted or otherwise waymarked link route from one recreational route to another recreational route and vice versa. A connection is used to switch from one route to another. Note that an approach might act as a connection, e.g. when it ends/begins at a major train station where other routes also pass through. In that case, use the role approach.

Given this definition, the connection should appear in both routes involved.

(the above table is a template, you can edit it directly via this link)

Tagging examples:

Tags Description


The Geitepad ("Goat path"), a walking route in Wilrijk in Antwerp


The markup of local touristic walking routes is strictly ruled by the regional decree of 1 April 2004 (amended 2005-07-20 and 2008-10-23). Valid colours are red, yellow, blue and green. The routes are globally administered by the CGT (Commissariat Général du Tourisme). More information and links to decrees and annexes on its page: Les itinéraires touristiques balisés with the 'Guide du balisage' and the 'Itinéraires reconnus'.

Flanders: coloured symbols on a white hexagonal plate

Signs of Natuurpunt walking routes

Natuurpunt has a large number of local walking routes all over Flanders. The routes have one or several information signs with the name of the route, and the signs with arrows have, next to a colour, also a shape, like a rectangle or triangle. In some cases a logo is used, like the "Aardgas" logo.

The routes should be tagged like the other local walking routes above, but should have an additional symbol=* tag, next to colour=*.

This is the list of possible values for the symbol=* tag:

Belgium walkingroutes natuurpunt redsquare.svg symbol=square colour=red osmc:symbol=red:white:red_rectangle
Belgium walkingroutes natuurpunt bluerectangle.svg symbol=rectangle colour=blue osmc:symbol=blue:white:blue_bar
Belgium walkingroutes natuurpunt greentriangle.svg symbol=triangle colour=green osmc:symbol=green:white:green_triangle
Belgium walkingroutes natuurpunt yellowdisk.svg symbol=disk colour=yellow osmc:symbol=yellow:white:yellow_dot
Belgium walkingroutes natuurpunt aardgas.svg symbol=aardgas (*)

(*) when the route is signed with this logo, you shouldn't use the colour=* tag.

Similarly many routes (e.g. those of the 'Regionale Landschappen') are marked with these signs:

Belgium walkingroutes hexgreenrectangle.svg symbol=rectangle colour=green osmc:symbol=green:white:green_bar name=* Groene rechthoek
Belgium walkingroutes hexbluediamond.svg symbol=diamond colour=blue osmc:symbol=blue:white:blue_diamond name=* Blauwe ruit
Belgium walkingroutes hexorangedisk.svg symbol=disk colour=orange osmc:symbol=orange:white:orange_dot name=* Oranje bol
Belgium walkingroutes hexredtriangle.svg symbol=triangle colour=red osmc:symbol=red:white:red_triangle name=* Rode driehoek
Belgium walkingroutes hexyellowhexagon.svg symbol=hexagon colour=yellow osmc:symbol=yellow:white:yellow_hexagon name=* Gele zeshoek
Belgium walkingroutes hexpurpletrapezium.svg symbol=trapezium colour=purple osmc:symbol=purple:white:purple_trapezium (*) name=* Paarse trapezium
Belgium walkingroutes hexpurpleboat.svg symbol=boat colour=purple osmc:symbol=purple:white:purple_boat (*) name=* Paarse boot
Belgium walkingroutes hexbrowncross.svg symbol=cross colour=brown osmc:symbol=brown:white:brown_x name=* Bruin kruis (**)

Some examples of names: Oudsberg Rode driehoek, Mechelse Heide Blauwe ruit, ...

(*) The trapezium and boat are not yet supported on Waymarkedtrails.

(**) Only when it is a proper walking route <-> aanlooproute, verbinding

Pilgrim's paths

In Flanders the Compostelagenootschap is currently working out paths for pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela. More info about the workgroup here. The paths should be signed sometime in 2009.

  1. It's preferred not to use oneway=yes anymore, as it could cause confusion with oneway=* as a legal restriction. See discussion on tagging mailinglist.