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Brayton Barff has a principal footpath encircling it which is tagged as highway=footway surface=compacted.

I have now surveyed and added a lot of informal paths tagged highway=path surface=ground, but they look identical resulting in the principal path becoming lost amongst the paths.

asked 27 Apr '22, 00:16

Timothy%20Baldwin's gravatar image

Timothy Baldwin
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Are you referring to the standard layer on the home page? Generally this rendering does not differentiate much between different characteistics of footpath. Other renderers or routers may pay more attention to things like surface tags.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what the question is that you are asking for help with.

(27 Apr '22, 09:27) alan_gr

Hi Brayton Barff, your questions tend to be a renderers problem, known as don’t tag for the renderer. The surfaces your described differ slightly. A compacted surface has some degree of what it says, a mechanical way of compression. But ground is nothing or without grass or weed, sand is for instance a surface but nothing more then a loose ground. Unpaved is also a good tag to use instead of ground. But yes, it is all close together, so let the renderer deal with it. If he makes a map for cyclist the surface is important, but a wanderer is less critical, he just wants to know if there is a path and without any barriers. As long as you choose the tags that describe the actual surface or fi width of a path you surveyed, since all users have different demands.

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answered 27 Apr '22, 12:02

Teek's gravatar image

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@alan_gr pretty much answered your question above: The standard layer on does not render paths/footways differently based on tags like "informal=yes", "width=", "surface=".

That has also been a problem with other apps that use OSM data too. In the US, some individuals in the National Park Service (NPS) have strong negative reactions to OSM for that reason as informal trails are against their rules and they have had resource damage and injuries occur when people were using a couple of the popular hiking apps. The US OSM community has been working with representatives of the hiking app vendors and representatives from several federal agencies including the NPS, the US Forest Service, and the US Geological Survey to come up with appropriate tagging and rendering to mitigate this problem. For a description of that working group and its current status including tagging recommendations, see

But that will not solve your immediate problem: You have a number of trails with differing characteristics ranging from carefully designed, built and maintained on one hand and on the other some trails that are informal, possibly discouraged by the land manager, etc. And the default rendering that everyone sees at does not show the difference. All I can suggest is that you tag what is there ignoring the rendering issue. As this rendering issue becomes more pressing we can hope that the maintainers of the OSM rendering style start looking at those additional tags and honoring them.

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answered 27 Apr '22, 14:36

n76's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

You've got a few options when it comes to indicating that something is "not the main path"

Different maps and apps based on OSM data may show these differently, although as you've noticed the "standard" map at doesn't do a good job of differentiating different sorts of paths.

You can get some idea of which maps and apps support which tags by looking here. That's the "taginfo project page" for the "informal" key - you can search for other keys too. The map that's listed as "SomeoneElse-style" there is one of mine and is visible here. That's not great for your purposes because it makes non-public-footpaths less prominent than public footpaths, but it does (on Skipwith Common) show a less-visible path differently here.

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answered 27 Apr '22, 14:37

SomeoneElse's gravatar image

SomeoneElse ♦
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question asked: 27 Apr '22, 00:16

question was seen: 942 times

last updated: 27 Apr '22, 14:37

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