Add or not add Closed national forest roads

So, roads that the national forest designates as closed to motor vehicle travel. Not paths, but tracks and an occasional unclassified road.

These closures are not temporary closures, but the more permanent closures that come from the travel management plans that each forest develops and gets approved. These closures can last many years and may end up resulting in the total decommissioning of a road.

Should I…

Include them in Openstreetmaps?


Exclude them from Openstreetmaps?


Tag them as paths?

Excluding them means they don’t clutter up maps with roads you cannot take a motor vehicle on. Most renderings of OSM I’ve seen don’t distinguish the access permissions of a road. It just shows up as a road. The routing engines are what usually adheres to access rules, not the map rendering.

Including them is truth on the ground. It’s noise, but it’s truthful noise.

What guidance do you have?

Marking them as paths makes sense to me, as long as they are reasonably walkable. With an explicit motor_vehicle=no (path is sometimes used for ORV trails and the like). If it’s not supposed to be walked on, then just access=no (but I guess that would be unusual in a national forest).

It’s maybe not completely satisfying, but it’s a good representation of what is there.

It depends on how closed they are.

If the closure involves a major barrier (eg. a line of stones or a trench across each end of the road), I’d mark it as a path, possibly with “abandoned:highway=track” as well. On the other hand, if it’s just a locked gate and the road is still usable for emergency access (eg. firefighting), I’d mark it as a track with “access=no” and “foot=yes” (and any other permitted uses, such as “horse=yes” or “bicycle=yes”). Every rendering style I’ve come across understands the “access=no” and “access=private” tags.

I’d tag them as highway=track, and motor_vehicle=no. Sometimes abandoned:highway=track is relevant, but that takes a site visit, or really good imagery. Foot, horse, bicycle access is sometimes ambiguous without a site visit, and even then it it not always clear. I don’t like access=no unless all access (except official access) is prohibited