What Gerd is trying to say is that you’ve merged three footways and a path together (http://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/34963801 , http://www.openstreetmap.org/way/352426003/history , http://www.openstreetmap.org/way/313285319/history and http://www.openstreetmap.org/way/377561610/history ). Looking at the resulting tags (the ones that you can see down the bottom left in the editor where it says “all tags”), instead of having either a “highway=footway” or a “highway=path”, you ended up with a “highway=footway;path” which nothing understood, so it didn’t appear on a map, but you’ve since fixed it to say “highway=footway”, which is understood and does appear.
The actual distinction between “highway=footway” and “highway=path” is a bit of a tricky one, is subject to personal opinions and needs a bit of history. Here is roughly what I think happened*:
Originally there were “highway=footway”, “highway=bridleway” and “highway=cycleway”. The names were picked by someone from the UK and meant “something meant mainly for pedestrians”, “… horses” and “… bicycles”. The assumed access rights (in law in England and Wales for the same named things) are “pedestrians only”, “pedestrians and horses, with bicycles also allowed, but unlikely to have a surface designed for easy cycling” and “pedestrians, bicycles and (maybe) horses”, as in the UK cycleways are usually multi-access paths for most non-motorised modes of transport.
In Germany “cycleway” got used for German cycleways that are (often or mostly) bicycle-only. There’s a separate class of shared-use paths, for which “highway=path” got invented. Right now, “highway=path” is relatively less commonly used in the UK than elsewhere (as a quick comparison look at the relative frequency of residential and path in the UK and Switzerland: http://taginfo.openstreetmap.org.uk/keys/highway#values and http://taginfo.openstreetmap.ch/keys/highway#values ). Elsewhere (e.g. Norway, but not just there) “highway=path” got used for “rural paths, such as those in mountainous areas” and “highway=footway” got used for “urban” or “well-made” paths.
Some of the story of “who uses highway=path for what, where” can be found on github where the “standard” stylesheet developers work: https://github.com/gravitystorm/openstreetmap-carto/search?q=footway+path&type=Issues&utf8=%E2%9C%93 , particularly on https://github.com/gravitystorm/openstreetmap-carto/pull/1713 . The abiguity of “highway=path” has been raised before, notably at http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/Richard/diary/20333 .
In answer to the question “what should I map the Yellow Trail as” I’d suggest it depends on what other mappers locally would choose. Regardless of whether that would be highway=path or highway=footway, though, I’d definitely consider adding more detail, such as a “surface” tag (even if it’s only “unpaved”, which I presume this is) or perhaps access tags to make it clear who’s allowed there and who isn’t.
- note that I wasn’t there at the time, and therefore may have got some bits wrong - all corrections gratefully received!