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In my situation, there is a trail that I would normally mark as "highway=path", going through a stream bed. The stream is intermittent; one usually finds it completely dry, except maybe 10 days in a year, so it is not a significant obstacle.

Just to make this clear: the path doesn't cross the stream, it goes through it for some distance (in my case, 200 m, but there are other cases with a few km of distance).

How should I mark the trail?

  • Add a completely new set of nodes, roughly coinciding with the existing stream
  • Reuse the nodes that the stream is marked with; add a completely new way marked "highway=path"
  • Reuse the nodes and the way that marks the stream; add "highway=path" to it

I have seen all three solutions in OSM.

Which one is preferred? Which ones are incorrect?

(I use JOSM)

asked 04 Aug '15, 08:32

anatolyg's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 04 Aug '15, 08:34

From your description, I prefer option 3, a single way sharing path and waterway tags. A note=* tag briefly describing the situation would be useful too.

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answered 04 Aug '15, 19:53

Alecs01's gravatar image

accept rate: 25%


What you're describing just sounds like a long ford to me. Here is one that I mapped ages ago. I split the road so that the bit that is both highway and waterway is tagged as such - i.e. your "option 3".

I'd also add "intermittent=yes" to indicate that the waterway is intermittent (there's little chance of confusion as to which tag intermittent applies to since it's a tag for waterways).

(04 Aug '15, 20:03) SomeoneElse ♦

There are a bunch of four wheel drive and/or high ground clearance tracks in the US southwestern deserts that follow "washes" (stream beds with ephemeral water) for miles. My preferred tagging is to have one way tagged with both waterway=stream and highway=track as suggested in your option 3. Surface=sand, intermittent=yes are typically good tags to add.

Be aware that some validators will complain. Complaints might be reduced by adding ford=yes though it is not really a ford in my mind as often the track leaves the stream bed on the same side as it entered so it may never really cross the waterway.

(04 Aug '15, 20:33) n76

@SomeoneElse Sure, I forgot intermittent=yes. BTW, in your example, flow direction seems reversed, am I wrong?

(04 Aug '15, 21:01) Alecs01

@Alecs01 so it is - thanks!

(04 Aug '15, 21:57) SomeoneElse ♦

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question asked: 04 Aug '15, 08:32

question was seen: 3,415 times

last updated: 04 Aug '15, 21:57

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