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Norcal BDR - First 4


Easy to Intermediate

After several years of waiting it's finally here!


The Northern California Backcountry Discovery Route (CABDR-North) is the 13th route developed by the BDR organization for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel. The Northern-California Backcountry Discovery Route (CABDR-North) is a 940-mile, off-pavement route designed for adventure motorcycles. Starting in Mammoth Lakes, CA atop Minaret Vista, you’ll traverse the Great Sierra Nevada Range’s conifer forests, mountain meadows, and gentle slopes, concluding in the high desert of the Modoc Plateau just north of Alturas, CA at the Oregon border. Ride blissful forested two-tracks, tackle rugged canyon and mountain roads, and ascend peaks to fire lookouts with unparalleled views. Explore quaint towns nestled in the High Sierra’s folds, with historic inns dating back to the 1880s. Beyond the thrill of the twisty roads and scenic vistas, you can delve into California history, discover relics of mining towns, and witness geological wonders. The route caters to riders of varying skill levels and offers optional challenging sections plus three expert segments. Immerse yourself in Northern California’s appealing blend of adventure, history, and epic scenery.


In this three day ride we will explore the first four sections of the Norcal BDR, Mammoth Lakes Ca to Truckee Ca.



The official start of your journey begins just a few miles from the resort town of Mammoth Lakes atop Minaret Vista (9,265’). Take in the incredible views and crisp mountain air, then choose your own adventure as the route splits. The first optional advanced section follows OHV trails through the largest Jeffrey Pine Forest in the world, which can be sandy with hidden roots underneath. Later in this section, the second advanced option loops around Obsidian Dome, with tight forested turns and primitive sandy terrain (be mindful of OHV traffic on the advanced sections).

Admire the scenic wonders of Mono Lake with its unique Tufa Spires, then adhere to the main route if you’re not up for a technical water crossing with large, slick boulders, which can get quite deep depending on the season. The northern portion meanders through the hills above Bodie, and if you like old mining towns, Bodie State Historic Park is worth exploring (fee required). Continuing toward the town of Bridgeport, the section ends with an epic two-track with views of Nevada and the Sweetwater Range.


After a ride up Hwy 395, turn onto Burcham Flat Road to hit the dirt. If you dare, take the optional Expert tracks, but make sure you allow several hours. Expect steep, rocky, loose terrain with sheer drop offs as you summit Mount Patterson (11,673’), and rocks and potentially deep sand on the remote Sweetwater Loop north of Lobdell Lake. If you summit Patterson and have had enough, simply backtrack the way you came and rejoin the main route. These challenging sections should not be attempted late in the day or alone as they are remote with no bailouts and don’t reconnect with the main route for nearly 40 miles.

Continuing northward, follow the smooth turns of Hwy 89 as it climbs over Monitor Pass (8,314’). The paved fun intensifies on Hwy 4 as the road narrows to one lane over Ebbetts Pass (9,186’), marking the official transition from the steep escarpment of Eastern Sierras to the more gentle slopes of the western flanks of the Great Sierra Nevada Range.


Blissful forested two-track awaits just outside of Bear Valley, as you meander through the deep pines before reaching the backwoods pavement of Winton Road. Heads up, Winton Road closes on Nov 1st or after the first significant snowfall. The steep descent to the Mokelumne River via Forest Route 7N08 is a highlight of this section, but be mindful this dirt road can be challenging if wet. Several picturesque riverside campgrounds can be found along Mokelumne River.

Once you cross the river bridge, narrow and steep dilapidated pavement switchbacks take you up the other side of the canyon, topping out with an epic traverse of the Bear River Reservoir dam. Soon, the route follows Hwy 88 then continues northward on forested tracks with an optional quick out-and-back to the Leek Springs Hill Lookout Tower (7,621’). A short ride on the historic Mormon Emigrant Trail leads to even more forested dirt and the end of Section 3 on Hwy 50 in the tiny town of Kyburz.


Take a journey back in time as you ride part of the original Pony Express Trail just outside of Kyburz. Ice House Road comes next, with paved banked turns as the route travels around the Desolation Wilderness west of Lake Tahoe. The original road to the Sacramento Valley leads past Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a homestead from the 1840’s that once welcomed pioneers, and is now a watering hole and campground.

Broken pavement and dirt roads with a few challenging rocky sections lead down to French Meadow Reservoir. From there, you’ll ride incredible two-track as it climbs up and over the mountains towards Truckee, and a stunning paved section over Donner Pass. Walk through the tunnels hand-carved through Sierra Granite by Chinese immigrants to complete the Transcontinental Railroad, and stop at Donner Memorial State Park. The infamous Donner Party was stranded here in the winter of 1846 after encountering deep snow and resorted to cannibalism to survive. Hopefully you’ve packed enough snacks and won’t have to do the same.


Multi-Day Ride: (10 to 15 riders max)

This ride ihgas an approximate total distance of 500 miles with more than 200 miles offroad. We will be riding the standard route and difficulty will be mild to moderate. We will have a separate ride for those who wish to challenge themselves on the expert routes.

150-mile fuel range required

Park fees are not included.

MEETING TIME: 8:30 am (ride starts at 9:00 am)
22 Vista Point Rd, Lee Vining, CA 93541

Riders are responsible for booking their hotel reservations.

MEALS: (meals Not included)
Breakfast lunch and dinner at restaurants
Bring water, snacks, and lunch.

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