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Backcountry Discovery Routes Teases NorCal BDR


The Southern California Backcountry Discovery Route has a reputation for being one of the most arduous on BDR’s roster. Its 820 miles offer plenty of variable conditions and technical tests to challenge adventure riders from the Mexican border all the way to the central Sierra Nevada. Recently, BDR teased an all-new route for the Golden State, linking the SoCal BDR to the boundary with Oregon—the long-awaited NorCal BDR.

Details are sparse, but BDR intends to release more information in February of 2024. In contrast to its slightly intimidating Southern sister, the NorCal “main route was scouted with the first-time BDR rider in mind”, according to the announcement. Like all BDRs, it also will include more formidable optional sections for the experienced rider, but BDR also promises “virtually no sand.” With a 70/30 gravel-to-tarmac split, it also claims to include some of the best twisty sections you can ride anywhere in North America and, surely, some truly stunning scenery throughout California’s vast and remote northern reaches. The NorCal BDR has been in development for quite a while and went through numerous reroutes due to multiple large-scale wildfires over the last few years.

NorCal BDR

Screenshot of BDR’s interactive GIS map.

Backcountry Discovery Routes is a non-profit organization that makes its adventures available to everyone with its comprehensive web resources, downloadable GPS tracks, growing YouTube film library, as well as Butler-branded paper maps (which I really love for large-scale trip planning even off official BDR tracks). Many BDRs, such as Washington and Idaho, are also accessible for folks with 4WDs. With the introduction of the NorCal BDR in 2024, there’s just one state West of the 100th Meridian left without a BDR to call its own—the great expanse of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains that is Montana.

Read more: BDR Special Edition Ducati Desert X Up For Grabs

Image: Backcountry Discovery Routes

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Stephan Edwards is the Associate Editor of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. He and his wife, Julie, once bought an old Land Rover sight unseen from strangers on the internet in a country they'd never been to and drove it through half of Africa. After living in Botswana for two years, Stephan now makes camp at the foot of a round mountain in Missoula, Montana. He still drives that Land Rover every day. An anthropologist in his former life and a lover of all things automotive, Stephan is a staunch advocate for public lands and his writing and photography have appeared in Road & Track, Overland Journal, and Adventure Journal. Find him at @venturesomeoverland on Instagram.