Is there a good way or method of finding unpaved roads? Any map, where I can tell which road is asphalted, and which isn't?

I have looked at wikiloc, and there are some trails for my country listed (Austria), but I was wondering if there is a way to "filter" for such roads in google maps, google earth or something else?

In most countries finding off road roads is just a matter of driving around, but I am located in Austria, and it seems here there are less such roads.

  • Do you mean unpaved roads (e.g. US National Forest roads), or real off-road trails (e.g. various places like Moab UT)? – Jon Custer Dec 2 at 23:23
  • Question is unclear. Is the goal to find offroad trails for the sake of offroading or because you want to know if you'll encounter such roads on your way to another objective? – Gabriel C. Dec 3 at 14:30
  • I am talking about simply unpaved roads, doesn't need to be a special off road trail. I am driving a Nissan Qashqai, which is not suitable for hard core offroading anyway. – user1721135 Dec 3 at 23:22
  • @user1721135 I modified the question so it better reflects what you just commented. – Gabriel C. Dec 4 at 14:06
  • I've come across this from the opposite point of view - roads that are down on the map using the same symbol as paved roads, but are really rather rough gravel. Then the forest roads start, and they're pretty tough on a road bike – Chris H Dec 4 at 14:15

One thing you might try is Gaia GPS. With a free account you can explore OpenStreetMap, which tends to have good coverage of and metadata about dirt roads. And with a paid account you can access an Austria-specific topo map made by https://basemap.at which may have better coverage.

(I work at Gaia)

Most countries have a national mapping service. In the U.S. it's the U.S. Geological Survey. In Canada it's the national topographic service. In the UK it's the Ordinance Survey.

Google is great for many things, but once you get less farm roads, their coverage is poor.

You have other problems too:

  • Many of those roads are going to be private.
  • Some are created by the current land user for their own use. E.g. forestry companies. And they may not allow the public in.
  • On government land roads may be created but only used by emergency vehicles.

So you need to your research at various levels:

A: Find a region that looks interesting due to lack of villages, towns. B: Find out who owns it. C: Find out if they allow your use. D: Find out if they have maps.

  • In Austria all forest roads are generally prohibited for driving. Google Maps actually registers even very small roads, but there is no way to find out what type of road it is. I guess national survey information might be useful for this, there probably is information on all public roads somewhere. – user1721135 Dec 2 at 21:04

The key to this is local knowledge, the best way to get local knowledge is to get in contact with local people or clubs and associations that specialise in that sort of activity.

While maps may show trails, they may not show whether the trail is publicly accessible, passable by vehicles, or just completely boring.

Try facebook (other social media also available) to find suitable local groups and make contact with other enthusiasts in the area.

I have taken a look at the basemap published by the Austrian government. While my knowledge of German is very ancient, I was able to glean some info from the legend and GIS layers.

After looking at orthophotographies (aerial imagery) superimposed on the basemap, I feel confident that most minor roads symbolized as a wide white line with light grey outlines are paved. Any road/path that is a single narrow grey line is unpaved or even regrown (you can see in my screen capture at lower right, there is a path with ruts and grass centerline).

enter image description here

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This should be a good base to start from but if you want more precise information, I would suggest looking towards Open Data Stack Exchange

  • Thanks, this map is very interesting. The openstreet map layer is also useful, apparently brown dashed line means "track". On the satellite photos some of these tracks look asphalted, but maybe its just gravel, who knows, need to go there and check for myself. The GIS legend doesn't seem to explain the solid grey lines. The not dotted grey lines from the legend are apparently "walk ways", but they look different, dark grey borders with light grey in the middle, not the solid grey you pointed out. – user1721135 Dec 5 at 11:03
  • Yes, the legend is unclear about what the thin solid grey lines represent (from what I get they should be a railroad track of some kind in the legend) but it is clear that the white line with grey outline is pavement (labeled as such in the legend). That's why I'd feel confident after looking at the map that most roads symbolized with the thin grey line are unpaved roads. Some might have been paved since the data was collected, but it should hold true in most cases. – Gabriel C. Dec 5 at 12:47
  • Those OSM "tracks" cover a very wide range of surfaces, from tarmac to dirt roads you could drive in a normal car, to farm tracks passable only with effort in a serious 4WD. – Chris H Dec 5 at 17:31
  • Yeah I think a lot of those could be simple walking tracks too right? Or do you think it means tracks for vehicles? – user1721135 Dec 5 at 21:48

Answer for the OP: You live in Austria and you drive a Nissan Qashqai. There are no unpaved roads in Austria, your vehicle is not appropriate for 4x4 Trails.

Roads, paved (% of total roads) in Austria was reported at 100 % in 2009, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources. Source

Answer for everyone else:

Off road car trails, also called 'four wheel drive trails' or '4X4 trails' are subject to local laws and customs which can very greatly by area. Additionally these trails can have unknown obstacle that can be problematic for a single vehicle traveling alone. (my images below)

Rather than looking for trails themselves, look for groups of people who use those trails. Then hit the trails with the people who know them

Google '4x4 club {your location}' and contact who you find. Using "4x4 club austria" I quickly found these resources

My TJ on Rocks My TJ second shot Rick stuck

  • The OP clarified he's not looking into offroading but just wonders if there is a dataset that would show if a road is paved or not. – Gabriel C. Dec 4 at 14:03
  • Ah, I see. This answer still ads value for the others. So I will leave it. – James Jenkins Dec 4 at 14:34
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    Well the world Bank is wrong because there a long known trips you can take on unpaved roads in Austria, I just want to find more. And it is this exact can't do attitude which I don't like about most 4x4 clubs. – user1721135 Dec 5 at 21:42
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    @user1721135 4x4 clubs in Austria must be significantly different then those in the US. There huge numbers of both public and private trails and roads, and everyone (mostly) works together to support the sport and the infrastructure. – James Jenkins Dec 6 at 11:41
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    I was in Bulgaria once, climbing a steep, grass track in first gear, in lock mode, trying to stay on a very particular line on the track in order to not get stuck, super slowly and worried and when I got to the top of the mountain, there was a 2wd small 2 door hatchback just parked there, not giving a shit. You would be amazed what cars can achieve, even if they are not competition winning, moded offroad cars. Sure you can't climb boulders with a Qashqai, but if you check out youtube, you will see, that people with Qashqais and Subarus actually do drive in pretty offroad conditions. – user1721135 Dec 6 at 21:00

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