Removing old trails from the map

Our community is in the middle of an extensive 4-5 year project developing new trails in our area. I have put the new trails into the database, but the project manager would like to clean up the map by removing the old trails that shouldn’t be used. I have tried putting disused tags on these trails, but they still show on the map. Is there a tag that hides the trails from the map, but leaves the paths there?

Edit: The reason for wanting the cleaner map is that there are people getting lost on the old trails because they are still actually there, and the local emergency services is having to go get them out. The project manager would like the map here to look like the official map.

Especially if “the local emergency services is having to go get them out”.

That is one of the main reasons for leaving old tracks mapped while they still actually in existence!

Please have a read of: Why can't I delete this trail? - OpenStreetMap Wiki


Please, if they are in fact there, do not delete them!

As many others have pointed out, options are:

  • disused:highway
  • abandoned:highway
  • informal=yes
  • highway=desire
  • access=no

If this is still showing up, file an issue at OSN Carto.

Again, please: Do not remove it if it is still there.


If they’re still actually there then they are still OSM-able. You can mark them as access=no if there is no legal access to them. Some styles using OSM data show access=no paths differently to either de-emphasise or warn people away from them. Any barriers you have erected can also be mapped.

If they have been razed then a lifecycle prefix might be suitable, especially if traces of them can still be seen or they are still on imagery.

Having inaccessible trails on the map can be useful for orientation in some cases. If you’re taking the third right, but that skips two “closed” paths then you could very easily find yourself on one of the closed ones rather than the open one you want to be on.

I presume you mean the map that displays on the main page of OSM website. It is important to keep in mind that this is just one of many possible renderings/views of the OSM data, and that apps and other websites may depict the information with a different style.

Also, keep in mind that it takes some time for the tiles that make up “the map” to refresh

Are there not signs onlocation stating that these trails are now closed?


Also worth noting that changes made to OSM don’t show up in hiking apps immediately. E.g. AllTrails says it may take 1-2 months.


I can feel with you. Adding disused=yes to a way does nothing in most consumers.

Namespace abandoned:highway=* comes to mind. Some here advocate for Key:informal.

Do you have any data on which apps are used by people getting lost? Or are they just following what is there on the ground, without relying on IT support?

How are you “putting disused tags” on the old trails? In my experience using the lifecycle prefix tagging removes the trails from the default rendering. So try disused:highway=path. I would also add an access tag which at least some of the hiking apps I know about seem to honor, a simple access=no for trails the land manager does not want used by the general public might be enough.


Another good resource I think is the description in the United States Trail Access Project, which looks to encourage mapping “official” trails with an operator= assigned (since that’s kind of what it means to be “official” is that there’s some organization maintaining it), and that trails people shouldn’t use are marked access=no, access=private, or access=discouraged as the case may be. I would assume the tagging should be the same for outside of the United States too.

1 Like