Mapping philosophy: "invisible" path through woods and grass fields.

Hi all,

I’ve been a user of OSM for hiking purposes for a long time, and recently I though it would be wise to contribute a bit, especially every time I hike a trail that is not on the map. So, I just started mapping.

However, yesterday I run (actually, hiked) into a dilemma: if you look at this area
you’ll notice that the trail coming down from the Hoamut summit heading west ends in… nothing. I actually hiked down that way, and indeed, shortly after it ends on the map, the trail meets some grass spots in a quite open and clean forest, and fades away… what was a well visible mountain trail merges into a net of barely defined walking paths through the woods (mainly the work of people looking for mushrooms). However, from that point you can freely walk through the woods and grass fields until you reach the road (a bit less obvious is the opposite, i.e. reaching the trailhead from the road, since the finding the best path to go uphill is somewhat harder).

Here’s my dilemma: should I connect the trail to the road using the path (not trail!) I followed through the woods 9I have the GPS track I can use for it)?
If I do, I would be marking as “trail” something that is not a trail. Is just a path (among many) you can walk because the terrain is so easy. I would however be signaling that the trailhead is indeed accessible, and suggesting a possible approach path (not necessarily the best, just one).
If I leave the map as is, it is probably more accurate, since there is not well defined trail after the point the current trace ends; however, I also give no information about the accessibility of the trailhead and (at least one possible) approach path. Also, that trail as it is now is quite useless for navigation software, since it leads nowhere…

Are there defined guidelines to deal with these scenarios? What is the general feeling?
So you know, if I were to decide, I would add a trail connecting to the road, but I’d rather listed to some more experience user…

Awaiting for guidance

Thanks for reading

Ideally we would have some kind of ‘soft’ trail tag, i.e., where the actual trail is non existent or poorly defined, but on the other hand it is a known route for hiking (the same applies to off-piste/back-country skiing & mountaineering routes). I’m not aware such a tag exists. In general it’s properties would be that it would not be shown on regular maps, but would be shown on hiking specific maps with some kind of annotation saying route unclear.

For now there are a couple of other tagging options: trail_visibility; and one of that tags like artificial_path=yes (which means that the mapped way is to provide interoonnectivity of other paths and not to be regarded as visible on the ground (e.g., a path mapped across a plaza). Obviously suitable description and/or notes should be included.

The dangers of mapping something is that people using apps may not have all the other information available (quite a few threads on help & reddit). So I’d probably err on the side of adding a way but not tagging it with highway=path/footway for now.

For very short connections I used highway=path surface=grass, but I admit that I would have trouble deciding on what is a correct action in such case.

Thanks for chiming in.

In the end I’d like it to shown on a (hiking) map, so I put highway=path, visibility=none and artificial_path=yes (note that I did not find this tag in the list while editing with iD, and had to add it manually in text mode… not sure it is the right thing to do).

I also requested a review upon submission, so we’ll hear another opinion, I guess.

I’d definitely suggest checking with “taginfo” when looking for tags. For example, here’s a search for visibility:

You can see that the tag that you want there is likely “trail_visibility” and clicking through allows you to see commonly used values:

Thanks for the suggestion. I’m very new to this, and any hint is appreciated.

For now, I corrected the tag.