[Tagging] hiking and foot route relations - is there any consistent difference?

Joseph Eisenberg joseph.eisenberg at gmail.com
Sat Jan 11 13:55:42 UTC 2020

Back in August there was a thread titled "Merging tagging scheme on
wiki pages of Hiking, route=hiking, route=foot and Walking routes"
which led to a new template
- used on route=hiking and route=foot pages.

However, I'm disappointed that the text ended up claiming this:

"route=foot is used for routes which are walkable without any
limitations regarding fitness, equipment or weather conditions. As a
guideline, you could say that walking shoes (at a pinch, even
flip-flops) are adequate for this type of walking trail."

This is all quite subjective. Folks here in Indonesia climb 3500 meter
mountain passes in flip-flops.

"route=hiking is used for routes that rather match Wikipedia's
definition: "A long, vigorous walk, usually on trails, in the
countryside"). As a guideline, you could say that a hiking trail needs
hiking boots because you will encounter sharp rocks and/or heavy
undergrowth and/or muddy terrain and/or have to wade through shallow

Again, very Western / European perspective to mention "needs hiking boots".

I asked about this on the wiki talk page, and Brian de Ford said:

"Google walking versus hiking and you will get many results agreeing
that there is a distinction. No two of them entirely agree on what the
differences are, but there is core agreement that hiking is more
vigorous than walking. One insists that there must be a change in
elevation (just about every road and sidewalk around here involves
changes in elevation, so by that definition I hike to the shops).
Several agree that equipment required makes a difference (style of
footwear and need for a cane/stick). Many say that the nature of the
surface makes the difference. Others say it's the terrain. There's a
difference, but it may be hard to agree on definitions for OSM. BTW,
parts of the UK also have "hillwalking" (which appears to be hiking
where hills are involved) and rambling (essentially unmappable because
there is no route)."

It sounds like there is no verifiable difference between route=foot
and route=hiking, so database users should not expect these tags to be
used in a consistent way. Each mapper has there own idea of what they

- Joseph Eisenberg

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