OpenLongTrails FAQ

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OpenLongTrails (OLT) exists to create, collect, and freely distribute information about long distance nature trails around the world.

What is OpenLongTrails (OLT)?

  • OpenLongTrails is an umbrella organization that encompasses a variety of projects related to long distance nature trails around the world, such as and
  • The goal of the project is to bring together information about the long trails and make it freely available to the public, under permissive licenses.

What does OLT do?

  • Overall: Create, collect, and freely distribute information about long distance nature trails around the world.
  • Provide practical information about the long trails to trail users -- GPS data, permit requirements, weather forecasts, etc.
  • Encourage the creation of long trail information resources, such as websites, apps, and guidebooks, by publishing research and crowdsourced data under permissive licenses in a variety of formats.
  • Crowdsource information about the trails by providing mechanisms for users to contribute GPS files and other data.
  • Contribute information to public projects such as OpenStreetMap and Wikidata.

Who is OLT for?

Everyone is welcome to use OLT resources. The project is created with the following target audience in mind:

  • Users of long distance nature trails, such as hikers and equestrians.
  • Information resource developers, such as app and website creators, guidebooks authors, and others.
  • Trail organizations, and the trail crews and other groups and individuals who protect and maintain the long trails.
  • Media creators who need information about the trails, such as journalists and social media users.

There are lots of hiking sites on the internet. What makes OLT different?

  • Some factors that differentiate OLT:
    • OLT is focused exclusively on long distance nature trails, or "thruhiking trails."
    • OLT is committed to opensource and providing permissively licensed data.
    • Several of the existing hiking sites have a business model that depends on crowdsourcing trail information -- often from paying users -- and then locking it behind a paywall in order to resell it to other users. OLT data is permissively licensed and freely available.
    • OLT's target audience includes trail users that cover long distances in a single trip, whereas many of the existing sites appear to consider dayhikers as their primary audience.
    • OLT is a community-oriented project, not a profit-oriented company.

How can I get involved with and/or contribute to OLT?

  • Add information to articles.
  • Send long trail GPS data to Any file format is acceptable; GPX, GeoJSON, and KML/KMZ are preferred. Please send only data that you have the authority to contribute.
  • Spread the word!
  • Read the blog, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, and join us on Reddit.
  • Software developers: Give us a star and a follow on Github and send pull requests for OLT projects.
  • Clarifying existing opportunities to contribute by developing official project roadmaps and issue trackers is a high priority.

What criteria does OLT use to decide what trails to include in the project?

The current OLT criteria can be found in this LongTrailsWiki article.

OpenLongTrails recognizes that what does and does not qualify as a "long trail" is open to interpretation. OLT currently considers the following characteristics as a flexible guide:

The trail...

  1. at least 50 miles long.
  2. ...involves minimal road walks.
  3. mostly completed.
  4. mostly in wild areas with natural earth for trail surface.
  5. primarily a hiking trail and is designed for foot traffic.
  6. ...can be completed without substantial mountaineering skills or pack rafting.
  7. not under regulations that require hiking with guides.

Is there a list of OLT projects?

What are some examples of future OLT projects?

  • GPS file downloads, OpenStreetMap and Wikidata contributions, online trail databooks, and more.

Will there be an OLT hiking app?

  • A higher priority is providing the trail-related information needed to facilitate others' efforts to create hiking apps and other information resources.
  • While a mobile hiking app is not a current OLT goal, development of an opensource app is within project scope and entirely possible.
  • Creating a mobile app that facilitates user contributions of GPS data *is* a priority.

How does OLT make information available to users?

How does OLT serve trail users?

  • By providing extensive trail information that is directly relevant to trail users, such as GPS files, and resupply and permit information.

How does OLT serve creators of trail information resources, such as apps, websites, and guidebooks?

  • By providing permissively licensed trail data for free, such as GPS data, online trail databooks, and resupply information. One of the primary obstacles to the creation of information resources for the long trails is the obscurity of the original data, and the fact that when data is located, licensing can be unclear. OLT aims to solve this problem.

What licenses does OLT use?

  • OLT projects use permissive licensing wherever possible.
  • For trail data, OLT uses OpenStreetMap- and Wikidata-compatible licensing wherever possible.
  • For Wiki content, OLT uses Creative Commons licenses wherever possible.
  • For software, OLT uses OSI-approved licenses, such as GPL, MIT, and Apache, wherever possible.

Who is behind OLT?

  • My friends call me by my trail name, Numbers. I'm the creator of,,, and other resources which have been online for years, and I have moderated online hiking-related communities with tens of thousand of users for years. I've thruhiked several long trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail, Arizona Trail, Tahoe Rim Trail, and others, and I've been fortunate enough to trail angel extensively. I'm creating OpenLongTrails independently, with the hope that there will be many contributors along the way.