[Share the Trail] Disappointed in Backcountry Discovery Route's change in stance against 4x4s


Founding Member
I have been a long time fan of the Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR). I've driven portions of the CO, UT, AZ, MA, and NE BDR's. I've talked about them in classes, written about them in books, and referred many people to them. I've always stressed buying the maps and stickers to support the routes since the GPX files are free on their site.

This weekend the MABDR facebook group posted this image:


I also noticed a subtle change in their FAQ's on each route:

Can I drive a 4x4 on a BDR?

Backcountry Discovery Routes are designed by motorcyclists specifically for dual sport and adventures motorcycles. With the exception of some ATV areas that require permits, BDRs run solely on public roads. However, BDR did not develop these routes for 4×4 vehicles and some of the roads on our routes are simply not suited for 4×4 vehicle travel.
I don't have a copy of the original wording, but it was a lot friendlier and a lot more inclusive to 4x4. We all know that "Closure isn't management" and I think that goes equally for groups and organizations as it does public land. I firmly believe the BDR board's decision to exclude 4x4's from their groups and their routes is a step in the wrong direction. It's also hard to justify such a change given the vast majority of the routes (talking 99.99%) are on public two-track routes already open to 4x4's. I know there have been some issues with their NEBDR route and the Class IV roads in Vermont (and I know who's to blame for that) but this overarching change seems a bit extreme.

As a longtime off-road enthusiast I know tensions have always been between 4x4's, ATVs, dirt-bikes, and dual-sport enthusiasts (and hikers, equestrian riders, and mountain bikers). I can think of a few occasions my Jeep has been peppered by rocks as a biker throttled up passing me, but that's not something I'm going to hold against all riders. I'm a firm believe in "Share the Trail" and I believe that sentiment goes both ways.


At any rate I thought I'd take a moment to raise awareness of this issue given the number of members here that have driven/ridden on the BDR routes. I will be penning a formal letter to the BDR board this week so if anyone has anything they'd like to contribute feel free to add a comment below.


Senior Staff
Interesting. I too have been a long time fan of BDR.

Sadly, the "ADV" segment seems to be taking over the leadership there and this reeks of elitism. As a rider, I can say that. There is a certain segment there that sees "everyone else" who doesn't ride a BMW or KTM, and all "cagers" as inferior. It's a big money segment with deep pockets and good bit of hubris.

Doing an about face with the 4x4 segment that pioneered most of those "Jeep trails" is an interesting business tactic. It would be interesting to follow the money there.
I have no problem with a group of riders saying they put together a track for riders.. and also saying it's public, so you can ride it too, but we didn't take other vehicles into consideration so don't blame us if/when you hit a single track. Also seems like the right thing to do esp. if I pay for a map then my rig can't fit.


Senior Staff
It's interesting to note
That's a very interesting point. One I will definitely bring up in my letter.
I'll use Washington's BDR as an example. I know Andrew Cull, and I know that route. We're talking about connecting the dots through the Cascades in the PNW on old logging and mining roads. If not done on private or railroad lands, much of what was blazed was on federal lands with federal dollars (taxpayer money).

Those roads were cut through those areas long ago in pursuit of natural resources. So that trucks could operate there.

Now these roads, and these routes, are the "resource" that BDR sells. Maps, information etc. They've been monetized.

Those routes were never intended solely for motorcycles. They've simply co-opted them with branding by saying "BDR did not develop these routes for 4×4 vehicles".

To that I say BS - they didn't "develop" these routes in the first place. The loggers and the miners and the railroads and the Works Progress Administration did.

All they did (actually, the volunteers did the work) was connect the dots on existing USGS maps and package it as a "new" product.

Not to take away from the amazing work put in by volunteers to get GPS tracks and validate all of the info. Thousands and thousands of miles, and just as many hours of work. A monumental task that deserves praise and respect. That deserves to be shared and enjoyed by all Americans.

I'm just not a fan of any messaging or posturing that's in opposition to the logic behind "share the trail" and Tread Lightly!
The BDR route was an Oregon original, not sure who mapped it but the idea wasn't original to Tour Tech. The WA BDR was the first BDR mapped buy Tour Tech with support by Remote Medical International's Andrew Cull. This is why you don't see the OR BDR mapped and sold buy Tour Tech. This is an unfortunate turn of events, short memories.

Back in the day the Tour Tech Rally was held in conjunction with the Northwest Overland Rally. We (Three Amigos) worked first aid and recovery for these events for years. The vast majority of injuries were the motor bike guys. We even had to winch a big KTM up the side of a mountain to recover it for an owner that bailed out and was injured and took the 4X4 ride back down the mountain.

Over the years I have traveled WA, OR, ID, UT and parts of the WY, NV and AZ BDR. Every time we have had interaction with bikes and it was always positive.
I drove the TAT east from Oklahoma to Virginia in a Ram 3500 with a Truck Camper. On that trip, I helped two motorcycles - one to lift his bike after a fall and the other to help extract from some mud. In both cases, the riders were great and very appreciative. On the other hand, a few riders were pretty upset I was driving "their route" which is all on public roads.


Founding Member
Yeah, and the OR BDR is actually a web of about a half dozen routes IINM. But yeah, Butler doesn't make maps for that one and it no longer appears on the ridebdr.com website.


It's more or less all open shared public roads that we all use and respect. If it really were the case to have such a mentality that only ADV/dual sports can use such routes is pretty ridiculous. I commend them for putting the tracks together and making it public to use, but it really is just that. Public accessible routes on public accessible roads. You cant stop someone from driving a road just because you plotted the route and want to keep certain vehicles, which are legally able to traverse, from using it.

We all share these trails for the same reason: To enjoy our public lands together responsibly. And we really need to ally with each other to keep those trails open. Having an elitist attitude only hurts everyone else. In this day and age, you'd think people would get that by now, but I guess it's like common sense.


Founding Member
This is a prime example of what drives ne crazy, and why we'll never beat the eco-nazis...off highway factions can't get along with each other long enough to fight a good fight...meanwhile the Steal the Area Club...I mean Sierra Club stand in front of grocery stores and gets countless sheeple to sign their petitions for land closure.

I've said this before, and I'm sure I'll say it again at some point. There was a time when I was pretty involved in land use, finally gave up on beating my head against the wall trying to get a cohesive group of off-highway enthusiasts to band together for a common cause.
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