How to mark a trail as dangerous? (and would you consider repairing it on your own?)

I’ve been on a trail that has been created over the years by hikers (Trampelpfad) that is therefore not maintained by the state. Due to bad weather events (storm, etc.) some parts of the trail are litteraly only 10cm wide and are very slippery and exposed.

What’s the best way to mark this part of the trail as dangerous on OSM?
Currently I’ve set the highest hiking difficulty available in our region (T5) to ensure that hikers are aware that a wrong step could have fatal consequences.

By the way, a question to the hikers: would it be seen as a bad hiking practice to try “repair” the trail on your own by elarging the trail on purpose while hiking there?

To give you an idea, here is how it looked like when it was still very safe (at least compared to now…)

Photo copyright: mmmatze

Please post a current photo! Thanks. Alone from the terrain, I do not see that a fall there will have fatal consequences. The path is in no way exposed. Of course, people die from falls on stairs, but most manage.

In Austria, the law (Forstgesetz) allows the hiking community to repair damaged paths in the woods. No idea of Germany. If local law allows, and you feel like, Go for it!


It really depends on what the local laws are. Where I live in the United States (Northern California) hikers can do minimal repair to some trails without any issues, but anything major has to be approved by the local government. Especially if the trail is part of a park or something along those lines. Like @Hungerburg said though, if the law allows you to repair trails then go for it.

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Indeed from the photo it looks like a nice walk in the forrest. I’ll post a photo the next time I’ll go there.

Basically you can imagine a very narrow and muddy track next to a landslide.

Sounds like informal=yes applies here. This tag doesn’t necessarily indicate that the trail is dangererous, but it does mean that the trail is not established on purpose or formally maintained.

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IMO that trail doesn’t look that dangerous (I went on one worse yesterday).

In OSM, we map only non-subjective properies of paths, i.e. we don’t map “this trail is dangerous”. However, you can map the width, surface or track_type.

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We do actually have the hazard=* tag, but have not really explored a sensible set of values for hiking paths, although hazard=slippery and/or hazard=landslide fit here (even if these are mainly used for road signs), nor am I aware of anyone consuming such tags for hiking trails.

As @Hungerburg says, this does not appear to meet the criteria for a T5 path, and I’d be hesitant about using the sac_scale for this kind of purpose, especially as over time the path may be effectively reinstated by passage of feet.

I’d be hesitant about trying to repair the path as it is, because the slope may still be unstable.

Adding extra tags like width and wheelchair=no(though for hiking paths it rarely helps) may be useful as a hint.

In general I like, support and do this type of things.

Recommendation here heavily depends on many things (and note that negative answer to one case does not invalidate everything!)

  • is it a protected area (nature reserve/national park)? Or is it forest plantation with regular logging?
  • is it a public land or a private area? (maybe trail is open with permission of owner, in such case starting to do earthworks may result in revoking access permission altogether)
  • is the trail supposed to be there or is someone trying to get rid of it?
  • is there an alternative path?
  • is it legal?
  • is it considered as welcome/normal by others?

note that starting earthworks, even minor ones, on a landslide may result in activating it. I recommend looking at The Landslide Blog - AGU Blogosphere a bit and extra caution.

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