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I want to add two canoe routes to a wilderness area in Alaska. Each route is composed of several footways, or portages, and several lake crossings which are traversed by boat. I thought using one relation for each trail system would be the best way to handle the various pieces. I immediately ran into trouble. There is no relation "type" that works for this sort of route. It is not a footway, highway, or cycle route but a combination of footways and water crossings. I settled for "hiking" as the closest approximation, which caused JOSM to stop complaining.

I also gave up on adding the water crossings for the moment. But when I try saving my 13-member relation I get all sorts of "role" errors. What role should each section of trail be assigned? I tried inner, outer, forward, blank — nothing has worked so far.

I have other questions. Each section of trail (highway=footway) connects with a lake shore where one launches the canoe, (a "put in") and begins paddling to the beginning of the next portage or "take out" point. How should I show these points on the map?

Indeed, how should I show the water sections of the trail on OSM? The only water passages I have seen are ferry routes and these are certainly not ferry crossings.

I've searched for other canoe trails on OSM hoping to use it for a model and cannot find a single one. Is it possible I'm the first person to try this?

My Swan Lake Canoe Trail relation is Way: 265598376. I'm using the latest version of JOSM. If there is anyone out there with any experience with this sort of thing, please give me a shout.

Cheers, Dave

asked 11 Mar '14, 14:50

AlaskaDave's gravatar image

accept rate: 16%


Are these routes physically marked in some way, such as guideposts or signs?

(11 Mar '14, 22:11) Jonathan Ben...

@Jonathan: Probably but I don't know. I haven't traveled this route in many years. I'm using Bing imagery and USFWS online PDF maps to locate the trails. The Bing aerials are generally pretty good in this area so the trails and other details are visible if you first know where to look.

In general, Alaska has not been well mapped. Much of the data that does exist is Tiger stuff and needs a lot of TLC. That's where I come in. I'm doing armchair mapping from Thailand (where I spend winters) in an area that's close to home (Homer, Alaska) and that nobody else has spent much time mapping.

(12 Mar '14, 03:59) AlaskaDave

Relation type=route, route=canoe is documented:

There is already 14 relations:

The ways composing your route can be tagged according to this scheme:

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answered 11 Mar '14, 20:18

yvecai's gravatar image

accept rate: 9%


@yvecai: Thank you very much.

I looked at that Wiki page several times but never saw the information about canoe routes. Based on your tip I found with Overpass some routes in Germany but those run along waterways so the parts of the route that are on water have a waterway=river tag. The portions of my trails that traverse lakes don't have a waterway tag and hence cannot be properly added to the relation unless I create an artificial "stream" through them. Any ideas about this?

I got it — no tags needed. Those sections are simply part of the route and do not need to be a defined "highway".

(12 Mar '14, 03:50) AlaskaDave

Also, JOSM is still complaining that the "relation type is unknown" when I upload my data. I'm using type=route and route=canoe and my relation looks just like the examples I found so I'm at a loss to understand what it is that JOSM doesn't like.

(12 Mar '14, 03:50) AlaskaDave

(re JOSM complaining) I wouldn't worry about it - the authors of JOSM have clearly never anticipated anyone mapping this kind of route before, and you've done the right thing by discussing here.

(12 Mar '14, 09:58) SomeoneElse ♦

Be aware that OSM is not hosting private or personal routes. If there is no marker on the ground neither not documented somewhere, your contribution can be removed by anyone

(12 Mar '14, 10:15) Pieren

@SomeoneElse: I came to the same conclusion. Yet, those untagged ways do concern me. They are part of the route and that seems proper but isn't having untagged nodes/ways a problem?

The area I'm working in is here:

@Pieren: This is a bonafide canoe route in the Kenai Wilderness Area, administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. I'm sure it's well marked but as I haven't been there personally in several years, cannot attest to same.

(12 Mar '14, 10:50) AlaskaDave

Then it's fine. You could add a "note" and/or "source" tag explaining that in the relation itself.

(12 Mar '14, 13:33) Pieren

RE: untagged ways There are many circumstances where it's actually correct to have untagged ways as part of a relation, so I wouldn't worry about it. Untagged ways that aren't part of a relation, now that's a problem. :)

(12 Mar '14, 21:43) alester
showing 5 of 7 show 2 more comments

Good for tagging. And then if a route is tagger, how do I create a GPX file that can be copied to a GPS i.e. Garmin ? The routing services follow the highway tags, but not the waterway tags. There got to be a service that can do that ???

permanent link

answered 05 Feb '18, 17:30

Martin%20Chalifoux's gravatar image

Martin Chali...
accept rate: 0%



There is no way that I know of to add this or any "route" to a Garmin GPS other than providing a starting waypoint, an ending waypoint, and then creating temporary waypoints between them that follow the route. These points, so-called "via points", are temporary and can be created within Basecamp or Mapsource. Once you have the route adjusted to your satisfaction, send the route to your GPS. I discard the via points after use.

(06 Feb '18, 00:31) AlaskaDave

I am trying to use on online service to draw a route, then create a GPX from it, like we do for hiking/cycling routes. The garmin will take any GPX as a route. The piece I look for is a service that use the OSM data to create a "waterway" based GPX

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answered 06 Feb '18, 00:33

Martin%20Chalifoux's gravatar image

Martin Chali...
accept rate: 0%

Martin use an OSM on garmin download on your garmin and in basecamp. Create a track in Basecamp and send that to your garmin.Note: I not could get Basecamp to route with waterways during a quick test.

(06 Feb '18, 08:39) andy mackey

Martin you could ask this as a separate question and you may get some more detailed answers

(06 Feb '18, 13:24) andy mackey

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question asked: 11 Mar '14, 14:50

question was seen: 7,166 times

last updated: 06 Feb '18, 13:24

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum