Unsigned Hiking Routes


anybody here?

During my stay in Iceland, I discovered several hiking routes in OSM which are not signed in the field. Most of them belong to the set of hiking routes that are described in a German guidebook from Rother publishing (for example https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/6161045). The routes are usually marked with wooden poles as part of the hiking network, but there are no special signs for the named routes. In some cases there was no marked or trail or the path doesn’t exist in the field.

Besides the copyright issues, I believe those routes doesn’t belong into the OSM database. After discussion with the creator of the relations, I am wondering what is the opinion of the Icelandic community?

Greetings from Germany,

Hello Daniel,

Thanks for asking about those unmarked trails. While I am no expert and only ‘part Icelandic’ to put it simply, I can say that in general paths and trails are poorly signed in Iceland. I can see both pitfalls and benefits of mapping those trails / paths / informal routes.

In general if some lasting practice is to be established I think it should be documented on the wiki pages pertaining to Iceland.
You have directly and indirectly mentioned some reasons not to map unsigned paths and / or deleting them. Here are some counterarguments:

  • Perhaps the map should to some extent adjust to local customs and ‘ruggedness’
  • There are tags to indicate visibility of paths
  • Because there are so few tall trees, and the landscape is open as opposed to dotted with small hills of similar height, navigation in some sense is easier. Having said that all hikers should be well equipped for all weathers and bring along both maps, compass (which does not point due north due to proximjty to the magnetic pole ), gps and cellphone.

I am not saying those points trump the arguments against. … Also unofficial routes are available on sites like gpsies, wikiloc etc. The OSM wiki page on paths in Iceland could mention those. There is also ganga.is which is perhaps semi-official.

Best Regards Morten

I’ve just had a chat with an official whose task is maintaining official data on marked (with wooden poles) routes in some particular areas.

They have the GPS and id of the poles (so you can mentioned nearest ID when contacting Emergency Services) and are considering if to open the data up.

As Morten says, many routes in Iceland are known routes and heavily used without being actually marked with poles, we have different standards here.