Military Land Navigation term. It basically means "Paved road," as differentiated from a :

  • "unimproved road" - A jeep trail or fire road. Unpaved and ungraded. Basically, two track the width of a car.
  • "improved road" - A wide, graded dirt road, usually with some roadbed material, like gravel, dumped in to provide an even rolling surface.

Hardball roads are great navigational landmarks. Intersections can be sighted off of with a compass. Hardball roads are also good for creating a fallback navigation strategy. Example:

Ok, if I get turned around down in this valley, I can run North until I hit the hardball road, then handrail east off it until I meet up with the trailhead.