[Tagging] Trailhead tagging

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny at gmail.com
Fri Jan 18 15:08:13 UTC 2019

On Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 5:54 AM Tobias Wrede <list at tobias-wrede.de> wrote:
> > So I wonder whether we should map all trial x road junctions as
> > trailheads or limit them to places with more facilities (just to be
> > clear, locally, in Flanders). I don't know.
> I see your point. I had forgotten about node networks. While I haven't
> really seen any for hiking yet personally, they are also growing here
> for the cycling network. And of course they are mapped as route
> relations. I'm not sure if I should reconsider my earlier suggestion to
> put trailheads on anything in a route relation or not. While you clearly
> also have to enter a node network somewhere I see them more as a general
> navigation aid than a "trail". Whenever I use them I start from home or
> wherever I am, find my way to the closest node in the general direction
> and take it from there. I don't go to that node by car or bus first.
> It's probable that I already enter the network somewhere inbetween two
> nodes.
> So I wouldn't consider every node as a trailhead. And i would not put a
> trailhead on every intersection of a road and a network leg. If there
> was a somehow designated or customary place, though, where you would
> start hiking/cycling on the node network that could be marked as a
> trailhead with the same rights as on a "classical trail".
> Does that make sense?

We have networks of urban trails in the US as well, and some of our
wilderness trails briefly enter towns. We have rail-trails and even
some peculiar hybrids. (The Long Path in New York walks on everything
from Broadway in New York City to a stretch in the Catskills that's
probably T3-T4 on the Swiss Alpine Club scale.) I'll admit that in all
the talking at cross purposes, I wasn't giving enough thought to urban
trails, even though I've mapped them.

You're entirely right that I wouldn't call every road-trail
intersection a 'trailhead' in a suburban preserve like the area in
https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/42.8044/-73.8567 !  If asked
what I might designate by that name, it would be just the parking at
the turning circle in front of the gate to the wastewater plant, and
possibly the area by the Lock 7 boat launch. Those, and not the many
entrances off the surrounding streets, are where most users start
walking or cycling. I might not tag Blatnick Park to the north,
because most users of the park are there for other recreations. Dog
walkers, ball players, disc golfers, and the like are often surprised
to see walkers or cyclists heading off into the woods using trail
entrances that are marked only with paint blazes. The trailheads, now
that I think about it, are the ones with signboards, parking, seating,
and so on. (Generally not names, we simply don't often assign names to
trallheads on this side of the pond - we just call them "the XYZ
trailhead" where XYZ is the name of some nearby feature.) I do, every
day, jump on and off the Mohawk-Hudson Bike/Hike Trail at
non-designated trailheads - because I live a couple of city blocks
from it, and my workplace is right by it as well, so it's part of my
daily commute. And you're right that when I turn off the foot/cycleway
onto the driveway of my workplace, I wouldn't label that a

Moving into the woods and farms, but still very close to the city,
near https://www.openstreetmap.org/query?lat=42.82108&lon=-73.98706#map=15/42.8080/-74.1299
I'd label the crossings as 'trailheads' only for the ones that have
signboards and parking (often for just a couple of cars!)  People
don't customarily start or end a trip just anywhere that the trail
crosses a road.

By the time you're in the Big Woods, where the road crossings are
separated by what's often more than a day's walk, every road crossing
is indeed a trailhead, no matter how few facilities it offers.

For the urban/suburban ones, I've really never thought of mapping them
specially - because generally just, 'here is parking' and the presence
of trails was something I thought was enough. I can see, nevertheless,
where a special-purpose map devoted to outdoor recreation might want
to show 'here's a good place to start to walk/run/cycle/ride/ski' -
with the appropriate sport icons, so I'm surely not averse to mapping

The backcountry ones are much more Spartan, and I have been inclined
to map them, not only as "here's a place to start a hike/ski tour" but
more importantly as "here's a place to get *out* of the wilderness in
the event of trouble".

I still think that 'designated or customary place to start or end a
trip' covers them all, though. Where I jump on and off the
foot/cycleway on the way to work is neither designated nor customary
for recreational users - the spots are certainly lawful, and used by
the people in my neighbourhood, but most users of that trail would
walk or ride right past them. Wilderness trips customarily start and
end, well, wherever you can reach that's close to where you want to
go. If I have to road-walk a couple or three km because there's
nowhere to park at the trailhead, I'll grumble, but it's part of the

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