Hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts in the United States have come to rely on mobile applications to navigate our public lands. While this makes the outdoors more accessible, visitors can be led to dangerous or environmentally sensitive areas when these apps include unofficial, unmaintained, and social trails. Many navigation applications amalgamate this trail data from multiple sources and rely heavily on OpenStreetMap data.
Through the Trails Stewardship Initiative, our hope is that we can empower OSM contributors to create richer data when mapping trails across the US. Developers of backcountry navigation apps will then be able to use this data to create more detailed and informative maps for their users, which will help people stay safe and protect our public lands. We have also formed the Trails Working Group, a collaboration between volunteer mappers, land managers and app developers. This group of stakeholders has been working to address on-the-ground challenges, tagging schemes, authoritative data, and other topics related to mapping trails in OSM.
Learn more about the project and current activities on the OSM Wiki page.
May 12, 2022 - Nowhere Podcast: Hear from Maggie Cawley, Executive Director of OpenStreetMap US, about her encounter with federal land managers who weren’t happy about traffic on their land and how her team developed a solution that benefitted the avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts while protecting sensitive or conservation areas.
February 10, 2023 - Trails Stewardship Intiative Update: Pilot & Next Steps
May 17, 2022 - The Trails Working Group is conducting a pilot tagging project!
December 22, 2021 - Announcing the OSM US Trails Working Group
Recordings & Talks
September 22, 2021 - Trails in OpenStreetMap: Guest speaker Keri Nelson, Backcountry Coordinator at the National Park Service Southeast Utah Group, presenting a few case studies of OSM trail data leading hikers off trail into unsafe and sensitive habitat.
August 2022 - The Trails Stewardship Initiative Maggie Cawley presents the work on the Trails Stewardship Initiative at the global State of the Map conference in Florence, Italy.
November 2022 - OSM US Trails Initiative Jake Low & Diane Fritz provide an update on the Trails Stewardship Initiative at the OSM US annual conference Mapping USA.
Meet fellow trail enthuisasts and see how you can get involved on the OpenStreetMap US slack in the
If you would like to support efforts towards improved trail stewardship in your area, share more information with us by clicking the button below:
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Photos © Justin Miller unless otherwise noted