Long distance hiking trails project

What are we piloting then?
In order to know if the paths for a route are already there, you have to go over the complete route. I would add the ways to the route relation while I’m checking, and the continuity line will show me if there is a break to fix. When I’m done, it’s done, I upload, and usually I have a list of issues for verification.
In JOSM of course.

I see two levels. One level is more like a mission: to advance and support the mapping of long distance trails worldwide. An umbrella project, more about participation and sharing than about fixed goals.
Another level is concrete projects to achieve fixed goals, such as mapping and maintaining the nwn and iwn trails in a particular region or country.

Yes would agree.
As I see it there are three groups that would benefit from more connection and sharing: OSM mappers (with an interest in trails/hiking), hiking organisations/trail builders and last hikers themselves (as they can add valuable information to the map and are the end-users). Together those groups can create valuable data when working together.

Once some connections are established, I can imagine concrete projects will also boil up. On the other hand, a concrete project might also be a chance to get people involved.

As far as I can oversee now most trail relations are maintained through the country specific groups. Is that right? And they in turn will have contact with the national/local hiking organisations right?

For example one of the things I was thinking about is the following. In the Netherlands there is this website https://www.meldpuntroutes.nl/ where one can report on trails when something is off. This information is then stored in a database, accessible for the hiking organisations. I think it could be valuable if something so low key would exist for trails in OSM, so that hikers easily can report errors and mappers could solve them.

I can only speak for what I have observed in a small corner of Spain (and also in Ireland some years ago). Generally hiking route relations seem to be maintained by individual mappers with an interest in hiking - that is what I do anyway. My mapping is based entirely on surveys. Of course I use online sources to find out where routes exist in the first place, but not to map them.

I don’t know if any mappers have systematic contact with hiking organisations (more likely to be regional than national). I rarely see hiking mentioned on the mailing list and forums, but it is possible there are discussions on channels such as Telegram that I am not aware of. Also I focus on regional and local routes, there may be some coordination on very long routes that cross multiple regions.

I don’t know how typical this is, but maybe it serves to highlight that there will be big differences by country (like the Sweden v Norway comparison mentioned earlier).

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I wish… meldpuntroutes just forwards the error reports to the field workers of the national operator, OR to the actual operator if it’s about a route or network that’s not theirs. No accessible database. If the report is about information found elsewhere being wrong, e.g. OSM or any of the multitude of hiking/routing/navigation apps and outdated hiking guide, the report is discarded as NMCOT (not my cup of tea). I agree, by the way. Even if they wanted to, they can’t correct somebody else’s errors.
I operate a facebook group where people can report when a signed route differs from the digital information. Preferably with a gpx-trace of the actual route as found in the field. I also ask for gpx-traces confirming the route, so I can update the survey:date.
While there are tons of people posting pictures and videos of their adventures, and many people track their hikes with their app, in the end nobody sends gpx-files. They do post fancy bird’s flight animations. In short, they want to show off, but they don’t want to, or don’t know how to, deliver mundane traces.

Reporting errors is rarely done. Most hikers think “I made it, got lost but found the route again, all’s well that ends well, moving on”. Solving errors for others, come on, really?

Are there other mappers doing the same? Then you probably have some names and contacts, e.g. on changesets or personal messages?

The Dutch hiking “project” is also done mainly by individual mappers, but they do meet on the forum, sometimes exchange PM’s, and there is the common wiki describing standing practice in Nederland, and with the overall list of routes to cover.

We’ ve had one big coordinated project that I know of, that was to map the complete Hiking Node Network, JIT for the release of the universal node network itinerary planner, Knooppuntnet Planner.

For urban and suburban mapping, yes I know who the active mappers locally are, and we sometimes discuss things as you say.

But hiking, and rural mapping generally, is a whole other story. I don’t really see a pattern of the same mappers recurring on rural changesets. I would guess a fair bit of trail mapping in touristy areas is done by visitors. In less touristy areas I might well be the first to map a waymarked trail. Again though I am talking mainly about shorter trails (max 1 day).

I can only speak for what I have observed in a small corner of Spain (and also in Ireland some years ago). Generally hiking route relations seem to be maintained by individual mappers with an interest in hiking - that is what I do anyway. My mapping is based entirely on surveys. Of course I use online sources to find out where routes exist in the first place, but not to map them.

I don’t know if any mappers have systematic contact with hiking organisations (more likely to be regional than national).

In Italy the national alpine club (CAI) is actively maintaining its numbered hiking paths in OpenStreetMap (despite the name they are operating in the whole country, not just in the alps).

Is OSM their main hiking path database, or is it a shadow copy of a proprietary database?
In Nederland, the official national operator has its own GIS for their website and their hiking trip planner, plus a separate general Route Database. They allow OSM to use the planner and the Route Databse as a source, but they will not maintain OSM in addition to the two other systems.

I have told them time and again that OSM has all the routes and is free to use, but this information does not seem to land in their brains. They just can’t believe it, even if it is shown right in front of them. They do use OSM as the standard background map for all their maps (with attribution), website as well as printed, since Google started asking serious money for their map, which is totally useless for hiking.

A sub-operator now has decided to build their own website, essentially holding copies of the same routes. This time not in a GIS, but… as separate gps-trails. All the day-sections and all the variations have to be uploaded as separate gpx-files. In addition to the already existing GIS’s. They think it’s progress…

Same thing for benches and cafés along the routes. These are already visible on the maps, because they use OSM for background. If one is missing, they could just add it to OSM, and it magically appears on their screens. Instead, they add all of them to their own CMS, manually gather the geolocation, and display them as an overlay. Progress! Let’s make and maintain more local copies!

Hm, ranting again. Sorry!

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In this case, I think it’s probably best to first brainstorm with a few people to get to a kick-off document, mentioning a few examples of what it’s about (?=your pilot project?). If that engages enough mappers and community contacts, then find out how we can support mappers and communities to help each other to play their role in this movement, doing their own concrete mapping projects or activities for advancement of long distance hiking.
In parallel, but after the kickoff, set out to improve an international long distance route involving different countries and different mapping communities (including one-person communities!). Same pattern: find out who is involved, ask them to engage, find out what they need and support them.

In England and Wales, there is crossover between various OSMers and other groups. The National Trust actively maps footpaths on their land in OSM; and I know a few people who have been in touch with them about that. At least one prominent hiking OSMer also looks after local footpaths for the Ramblers. Others are members of e.g. the PNFS or the LDWA. There’s also informal chat among OSMers about routes, access and signage - in England and Wales I guess this is mostly over OSM messages, IRC and mailing list. I’ve written diary entries like this one about checking for gaps, and based on nudges from that often fill in accidental gaps, like here.

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I am not quite sure what you mean by this: Do you mean that there is also a hiking project in Germany, or that only individual mappers are active on hiking trails in Germany?

If there is a project or group in Germany, I’d like to contribute. :slight_smile:

(but I haven’t found one yet)

I think checking possible errors in the routes on site (!) and updating the trails afterwards (!) in OSM could actually be interesting.

One example, last year in Sweden on the Höga-Kustenleden, I noticed a few deviations on site compared to the track in OSM. But some of the trails were brand new or still under construction. I have therefore not changed the route in OSM, but that would certainly be something to check. This could be really a benefit if we could establish a well known platform to report issues and locals or someone who´s on that trail soon would check it on the ground.

However, I would not change any track in OSM only based on error messages or sent tracks without on site review. (someone may have simply got lost because missing a sign, etc.).

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Yes, really - in England and Wales at least, that’s largely the focus for people’s edits! :grinning:

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I would also participate in general and have 3 topics in mind:

  1. checking errors reported by hikers
  2. completing properties by on site observations (Surfaces and difficulty levels)
  3. Adjusting directions of trail segments (the individual segments of trails very often lead to criss-crossing tracks after the download)

Sorry, I was, as the Dutch say, limping on two thoughts.
The old German forum had an active group of mappers for hiking and cycling relations, including Node Networks. They exchanged info about what they did and how to do it on the forum, so not exactly a mapping project. They probably moved to this forum, but I haven’t looked yet.

I do “digital quality” projects for the national operator (Wandelnet). I compare their routes (gpx-s) to the route in OSM, which gives a list of differnces. Then I ask the field operatives who is right, OSM or their website. If theirs is right, I adjust OSM and ditch the issue. If OSM is right, I keep the issue. If none is right, I ask for the correct route, then adjust OSM, and keep the issue.
In the end, there is a list of issues that should be corrected on the operator’s website. They usually correct the whole thing within a few days. We are talking about routes between 100 Km and 400 Km.

The Belgian community does comparable projects with their national operator. They even have created a tool: Knooppuntnet Monitor. This tool checks the relation for breaks, and does the comparison between a gpx and the OSM route. It’s still in development, but I have used it succesfully for one regional route (200 Km). The nice thing is, the differences requiring OSM adjustment, automatically disappear from the list.
And, the operator can get access to see what needs to be done, and can load a new gpx when it’s done. You could even give the field operatives access so they can monitor and adjust their own section of the trail.

I know the French had a tool to support relation maintenance, not sure if it still works. They had a Telegram group for that.

Biggest problem of both: they don’t support hierarchical relations. Which is really necessary for iwn routes. I know Knooppuntnet Monitor will solve this issue, just not sure when!

I would sure like to know if there are other tools like this to support route mapping and maintenance!

PS. The national operator gets the correct routes from me in the form of gpx’s, one per daily stage, as sectioned on their website. Since they discovered how accurate the OSM-routes are, they simply copy our route to their GIS.
At first they couldn’t believe how accurate OSM is, because they were used to lines drawn loosely on a picture, and now they get a line following exactly the paths and roads where the waymarked trail is.
I explained to them that a route in OSM is the exact string of ways you walk when you follow the signage.

Hi all! I am really excited to some people interested in this! I wrote some things down, what do you think?

For the advancement of long distance hiking

OpenStreetMap is used extensively by hikers, mostly through several apps that have OSM as a background. It is clearly a wonderful way to collect, organise and showcase hiking paths around the world. However, paths and routes change regular and keeping everything up to date is a lot of work, especially for long distance hikes. Our aim is to enhance the quality and quantity of long distance hiking trails in OpenStreetMap. It is believed that a stronger collaboration between mappers, hiking organisations and hikers can help all parties. As mapping such long trails requires some skill in mapping, lots of information through surveying, and time, a more coordinated way can be helpful to keep the routes accurate and up to date. Lets support each other and make OSM even more awesome!

The focus will be on National Walking Networks (nwn) and International Walking Networks (iwn). The idea now is to find people interested in this project and secondly to start a pilot project to see how collaboration could look like. All input is welcome!

Some questions to start off might be:

  • How are the collaborations between mappers and trail organisations now? [this seems very country specific – maybe learn from the examples where there is collaboration – it seems there are collaborations at least in Italy, UK and Norway]

  • Why are trail operators not using OSM as their native database? What are the obstacles?

  • Can a system be set up to make it easier for hikers to report errors? [inspiration might come from https://www.meldpuntroutes.nl/ ]

  • What long distance trails are missing in OSM? Are there communities working on adding them? How can they be supported?

  • How can we help to improve the quantity of the data of trails (surface, difficulty etc)?

  • What tools are there for improving the relations (gaps, directions etc)? [Some suggestions so far: knooppuntnet and SomeoneElse's Diary | Checking for changes to Long Distance Paths | OpenStreetMap ]

Possible pilot projects:

Please add your thoughts and ideas! And if you have a suggestion for a pilot project please share as well!

That is a local walk, and I don’t think it’s signed.
Most of the nwn and iwn waymarked routes in Nederland have been entered and are in maintenance phase. Main exception: the Camino, which is not signed in Nederland (except for a few short stretches).
Maybe one of the E-routes could serve as a pilot. They cross several countries and some are not complete.