Seiken Densetsu 3.
Now for something different: Taking a look at older games maps. I love SD3s maps. This is a relatively simple map in comparison to some of the games other maps but you can always check on vgmaps or something for more.
First off, try to ignore the cool pixel art in general and focus just on the map design itself. This path is very linear because it's only a branch off in a bigger area map (but to be fair, there are only 3 other places to go to, the town, the other town, and a cave which you can't visit until you go here, but it's the start of the game).
The paths are relatively open (it needs to be, it's an action RPG) but most of the detail is left outside of the walkable paths. I mean, look at that cliff detail on the top right area as you are walking down. Each map segment has a different thing to it that makes it unique.
The top right where you start has a detailed cliff in the center as you walk down and a sign. Go left, it's only cliffs, no trees, and there is some water. Going down, and there's trees on the side, a river on the left, and you have to go up a natural bridge to the other side. Then you get off of the cliff bridge and there would be a save point here with a goddess statue. Going down from there, it's surrounded by trees, with a weird statue that you can examine (It gives you ??? until you're in the part of the story where you need to go there). You go down to a narrow strip of land and a man made bridge, which leads you into the final area which is a big flower field and the end of the path.http://www.vgmaps.com/Atlas/SuperNES/index...SeikenDensetsu3
You can also check out Moonlight Forest and Lampflower forest here.
You need to think of landmarks, the maps progression, heights, detail, playing with space and variety, and how it'll work in a gameplay sense (do you need space to avoid enemies? Are there random encounters and will the player need some place to rest from it all? Do any story parts occur?)