do GPS maps identify dirt roads?

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by Zapp22, Oct 21, 2005.

  1. Zapp22

    Zapp22 ZAPP - Tejas

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    gang
    i am ignorant of GPS features. Do they accurately identify where the pavement ends and gravel/churt/dirt takes over? identify jeep roads? national forest access roads? fire roads? etc etc

    thanks
    z
    #1
  2. Kingsqueak

    Kingsqueak Wannabe

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    "Roads" will be on most map sets.

    Fire roads, trails etc. will be more likely to show up on the 'topo', topographical map sets. The level of detail varies with each product and also the age of the trail itself and whether it was cut for an official reason or not.

    Depending on the vendor and model of GPS, you may or may not need to order additional software to cover this point. You need to read the details of each product or product package set.

    I only know Lowrance and their MapCreate software that comes with the "Plus" packaging of their handhelds. If you get the latest version of 6.3 with topo, it covers the trail details pretty well.
    #2
  3. timdog

    timdog a.k.a. Josh

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    the short answer is "No." The long answer is "somewhat." If you really want detail, you need a unit that will allow you to download addition software. Garmin's mapsource has pretty good detail of secondary roads. You won't get all the road names either, but they will show up on the screen as "road." Also keep in mind the GPS companies get all their info from other sources, so they will be no more detailed than a county map, and most likely less detailed. If you want a sample of the detail you will get, go to: http://www.garmin.com/cartography/mapSource/topo.jsp

    and look at the map viewer on the left.
    #3
  4. Tee

    Tee Adventurer

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    I'm using Garmin City Select v6.
    When exploring Florida and Georga, usually the first I know a road is going to be dirt is when I come scream'n around a corner and see nothing but sand in front of me as the asphalt comes to an abrupt halt.
    Usually if the GPS shows a road as dirt, it is. On the other hand, it shows tons of dirt roads as non-dirt.
    I surely woudn't make any bets based on the GPS data.

    T
    #4
  5. Spanish Bob

    Spanish Bob I dont know where I am.

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    depends....

    at least in europe you need something like oziexplorer and the associated real world maps to get a good idea of what is going on.

    Hopefully soon detailed topo maps of quality with exist in the same time space continuum as GPS devices, right now.........
    #5
  6. 625SXC

    625SXC Been here awhile

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    I have a Garmin V and I load the City Select & Roads and Recreation for the area. I am always amazed at the detail they have. On a recent D/S ride in Southern Ohio we were riding trails that 2 quads couldn't have passed each other without rubbin' tires and they were on the map. I guess these were County Roads like 100 years ago or something. Also when riding in Wyoming we were kinda lost. For shits and giggles I told the GPS to "find" the lodge. We were on a trail not much more than a singletrack trail and I'll be damned! It plotted us a course back to the lodge on these trails. They were marked Forest Service roads. I LOVE MY GPS!
    #6
  7. Henry James

    Henry James Looking for Adventure

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    I have a older Garmin Emap GPS and use Garmin Mapsource, Western US Topo and it shows roads down to forest service logging road detail in Northern California.
    #7
  8. rideLD

    rideLD The further the better!

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    The old Garmin Roads and Recreation software shows all the way down to maintained hiking trails. It shows every dirt road. When I was riding in Ocotillo SRV it showed every trail and even the names of them.
    #8
  9. Desert Dave

    Desert Dave Enjoying the moment

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    I'm using the older Garmin Roads & Recreation as well, perfect for what I'm doing. All the forestservice roads are brown, but it lets you guess as to whether it's dirt or not. One of the neat things is that it does show the old roads that aren't on the modern maps, usually because they aren't maintained anymore. Quite often these have turned into great jeep trails or even single track/hiking trails....some excellent finds.
    #9
  10. christian

    christian Long timer

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    The old Garmin US TOPO has most trails that a bike can be on.

    I have not seen the newest Topo 24k but I can only imagine that it has more info.
    #10
  11. BigDave

    BigDave Adventure Drummer

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    :nod
    pretty close anyway. only been a few places where the road or trail was not on the R&R cd.
    ~bd
    #11
  12. Arch

    Arch Incurable Gearhead

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    Ditto with the older Metroguide map data. Full coverage and no unlocks needed, works on any Garmin GPS. I use the latest City Select (v7) for strictly pavement stuff and switch over to the old Metroguide for obscure dirt routes in places like far west Texas. They switched map data providers a few years back which is why some of the dirt stuff has been lost.

    And yea, the Topos are good, too. I have the latest ones.
    #12
  13. brfinley

    brfinley Brooster Supporter

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    I use Garmin Mapsource v6.0.02beta with City Select North America v7. I think identification of road surfaces will depend on the map data in use.

    With my combination, Mapsource can identify whether a road is paved or not. It just doesn't show that to you on the map. The only way you can find out is to set your routing preferences to avoid dirt roads. Then if you try to route over the road in question, it will take the long way around to avoid it if its not paved. Turn the preference off, and it will route over it.

    The City Select data includes a lot of dirt roads. When riding, I notice that there are a lot of side roads present on the display which are not paved. In fact, some of them are two-tracks that look like they haven't been traversed in a very long time. Some you can just barely make out where the road was.

    When I'm making a route that goes through places I don't know on minor roads, I usually turn on the dirt road avoidance to see what changes. That way, I know that there may be something I may not want to ride on. I can at least try to find out more about the road from an internet search or asking the locals.

    I would definitely like it if Garmin would add some additional line types that would identify unpaved roads.
    #13
  14. FredRydr

    FredRydr Danger: Keep Back 300 Ft.

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    Based on Garmin's CitySelect version 7, my experience so far is that forest tracks of dirt and gravel in central Pennsylvania, USA, are on occasion mis-identified as paved. Setting avoidance on unpaved roads will lead to surprises (not always unwelcome, depending if I am in a hurry).

    For example, my last surprise: In Garmin Mapsource and CitySelect ver.7, set preferences to avoid unpaved roads, then route from Shade Gap, PA to Three Springs, PA. It will select a route on Township Route T-329, which begins in the east as a paved road, but changes to a gravel and dirt forest road for most of its length. Great fun, except I was hell-bent on a rendevoux with others for a ride to West Virginia.

    Fred
    #14
  15. Zapp22

    Zapp22 ZAPP - Tejas

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    Fred

    that's good feedback. I had not thought through it, but I guess these guys are using variants or enhancements of the same USGS and Satellite mapping data that are commonly found on the web or in other mapping packages. none of them are any more current than about, what, mid 1990's? and much of the available is quite a bit older than that.

    i find here in texas that you just about have to 'guess' the dirt roads just by comparing a couple of maps and seeing how prominent the road is in terms of its details. Then, even though county roads SHOULD be open to through traffic, if they go through a big ranch, the rancher often has put up a gate for his livestock, and its LOCKED when you get there..... THEN that's complicated by the fact that there might not be a road sign for miles actually identifying THAT road as one and the same as what you planned.......

    all in all, its why they call it ADVENTURE biking!
    z
    #15
  16. MoBill

    MoBill Smiles when says dat

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    Anybody have recent experience with this question?

    I'm wondering which unit and mapset to purchase to ID dirt roads.

    I'm dreaming only of dirt these days...good dudes around here have been a great help in finding it, but I'd like to be "self-winding" in this regard and find it myself by map recon and GPS.

    Any progress on this?
    #16
  17. garandman

    garandman Wandering Minstrel

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    The Zumo 550 (CN North America NT 2010.20) I have doesn't always distinguish between dirt and paved roads. It is somewhat common in New England to have paved and unpaved sections of the same road.

    They are usually but not always shown as a finely broken line at zoom scale less than 0.3 miles, even on the "most" detail setting. I'll look at the computer program when I get home.

    I also have a Garmin Nuvi 550 with topo maps and I'll take a look at that as well.

    I took Tunnel Rd in Franklin, MA 01367 West from Steele Brook Rd (itself a dirt road) and Google and Zumo shows it as going all the way through to a bridge over the Deerfield River and back to River Road.

    Steele Brook Road: a typical New England dirt road.

    [​IMG]

    Tunnel Road - not so much. Started like above, then went to:

    [​IMG]

    And after going through these puddles, headed steeply downhill and became even narrower and rougher.

    [​IMG]
    After a foot recon, being alone and without cell phone service, I took a clue and went back through the puddles.
    #17
  18. MoBill

    MoBill Smiles when says dat

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    I know you've got the goods up there for sure.

    We're more limited down here, but I'm discovering lately that there's more remaining unpaved here than I thought.

    I'm thinking you mean resolution in Garmin NA maps on your laptop--but unsure.

    I'll wait for you to check. I own a 2720 right now, and for what I'm looking to do, realize I may need to switch.

    Thanks pal, good to see you.
    #18
  19. mcnut

    mcnut Long timer

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    My experience is the same as brfinly. The old Roads & Rec and Topo show secondary, rural & unmaintained roads the same no matter what the surface.
    The newest mapping software I own is City Select (auto-routing) which sometimes will show a road as a dashed line (trail?). In that case it usually is a road (may be 4X4) and the surface can be anything from perfect pavement to goat path.

    On the other hand City Select does have an avoidance for "unpaved roads" so the surface type must be tagged some how. A little experiment in MapSource suggests that for routing, CS does not use the dashed line to distinguish a road as "unpaved road". the surface type must be tagged elsewhere in the mapping software.

    Determining surface (paved/unpaved) type has always been a frustration for me, even when using paper maps.

    Bruce
    #19
  20. navi

    navi Been here awhile

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    Just happened to me yesterday, going from Vancouver to Saskatoon.

    I have a older Garmin (means old maps too), asked to route using shortest distance, it gave me a route that used secondary roads bypassing Drumheller, AB.

    So far so good, untill the road turned in 8inches of gravel and in the middle of now where, and thats when the GPS stopped working, low on gas, not sure where I was.

    Nice guy on a tractor, told me how to get to highway 9 and the nearest fuel station.

    Added an extra 100kms to the trip, but it did end up with a mini adventure.

    Maybe I need to (1) carry a real map (2) upgrade to a newer GPS,

    GPS's (mine) don't know what the road looks like.

    my2
    #20