Washington Backcountry Discovery Route

The Washington Backcountry Discovery Route (WABDR) is a scenic off-road route for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles that runs north to south from Oregon to Canada across the state of Washington. The 575 mile route uses mostly un-paved back roads through the beautiful Cascade Mountains and some arid landscapes of Eastern Washington.

Some of the roads are wide, well-maintained gravel and many are rugged and narrow 2-track with steep grades, exposed corners and no warning signs or guard rails. The WABDR offers a less-travelled path for anyone looking to experience the beauty of Washington and explore backcountry areas. Many of the roads have been in place for decades and some have significant history dating back generations.

It takes most people about 5-6 days to complete the route and there are some easy alternate sections to get around difficult stretches. There are many great camp spots along the way for those looking to rough it. The route also works well for those looking to stay in hotels or to do a little of both. The WABDR is also suitable for 4x4 vehicles looking for an easy, scenic drive.

For ride reports, current WABDR conditions and route updates, and to join or organize BDR rides, please visit the WABDR thread on www.ADVrider.com and the Americas thread on www.advrider.com.

It is our hope that many people will travel this route and help us to improve it, and protect it over the years to come.

Route Updates

June 15, 2015 - Road #4150 Closure in Section 5 (re-route avaialble).

 

WABDR

CLOSE MAP

Day 1: Oregon to Packwood

The symbolic beginning of the route involves crossing the "Bridge of the Gods" from Oregon into Washington, just west of Stevenson, WA. Gas, groceries, restaurants and hotels are available in Stevenson. The route heads northeast over Triangle Pass and Trail Peak on gravel and dirt roads through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. On a clear day, riders will be treated to views of three volcanoes: Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and the infamous Mt. St. Helens; which lost 1,300 feet of elevation in a massive eruption on May 18th, 1980. A short detour from the route to visit the Guler Ice Caves is worth the time. Created by a lava flow over 20,000 years ago, this lava tube preserves ice formations year round. The ice caves are West of the town of Trout Lake, near Peterson Prairie Campground. The route continues over Trout Lake Creek, Grand Meadows, Takh-Takh Meadows, Midway Meadows and then down to Hwy 12 arriving at Packwood where gas, hotels, restaurants and groceries are available.

Day 2: Packwood to Ellensburg

Hwy 12 heading east from Packwood crosses over White Pass and skirts Rimrock Lake before turning north onto gravel roads which lead up to Bethel Ridge. Stunning mountain views including Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams can be seen from a basalt ridge that drops off sharply to the Tieton River Valley below. After a rugged section of rutted roads along the ridge, a long descent brings you to Hwy 410 near the small town of Nile. After a short section of pavement, a dirt road heads up over Cleman Mountain, passing through the Oak Creek Wildlife Area and then down Evans Canyon. A short paved section on Wenas Road North leads to a steep dirt road that winds up and over the rocky and treeless Umtanum Ridge. After descending the historic Old Durr Road, there is a small water crossing at Umtanum Creek and a section of asphalt running into Ellensburg which is a large town with full services.

Day 2 Option: Bypass Bethel

Day 2 Option: Bypass Umtanum

Day 3: Ellensburg to Cashmere

Paved roads head north from Ellensburg toward Table Mountain and Lion Rock Lookout in Wenatchee National Forest. High elevation and twisty dirt roads with views of the Central Cascade Mountains make this a very enjoyable section. From Lion Rock to Beehive Reservoir the route is stunning, rugged and remote. The path at 6,000 feet along Table Mountain provides views to the west. Elk can often be seen in the beautiful Haney Meadow. From there the road traverses a ridgeline with spectacular views of Devil's Gulch and the Columbia River to the North. The route passes nearby Beehive Reservoir before descending the Mission Creek Valley to the town of Cashmere which has gas, groceries, restaurants and hotels.

Day 4: Cashmere to Chelan

Heading north up Nahahum (pronounced Nah-Hum) Canyon from Cashmere brings riders to a 360-degree view atop Chumstick Peak at 5,810 feet elevation. The route winds up and over Roaring Ridge in the Entiat Mountains before descending steep switchbacks to the one-store town of Ardenvoir which has a small cafe, gas and basic rations. The next 30 miles have a gain of over 4,000 feet as riders climb McKenzie Ridge and the Chelan Mountains. Views of Lake Chelan can be seen as travelers pass through the Slide Ridge area on the descent to 25 Mile Creek State Park. A pavement road follows the Southern Lake Chelan shoreline east to the full-service town of Chelan.

Day 4 Option: Bypass 8410

Day 5: Chelan to Conconully

The route ascends north from Lake Chelan past the Echo Valley Ski Area toward Cooper Mountain, a 5,867 foot summit with stunning views. The route then passes Black Canyon Creek and skirts Fox Peak before descending the Gold Creek Valley to the Methow River and Hwy 153. Heading north on Hwy 153 riders will pass the one-store town and gas pump in Carlton before heading east on Benson Creek Road. The path heads up past Thrapp Mountain and Woody Mountain before dropping down into the valley to Hwy 20. After a short highway section riders are back on dirt heading north on scenic Loup Loup Canyon Road in the Loup Loup State Forest. The steep Ruby Grade descends toward a site where the mining town of Ruby once existed. A sign at the site describes a bustling mining community that was the center of commerce in the Okanogan area until the market for silver collapsed in 1892. Gravel and paved roads take riders to the one-store town and gas pump in Conconully. In addition to the store, there are lakes and a state park in the area.

Day 6: Conconully to Canada

The route heads north from Conconully and pavement eventually turns to dirt again as riders reach Salmon Meadows in the Okanogan National Forest. Riders soon enjoy views as they climb up and over Lone Frank Pass (the highest point on the WABDR). After a short distance the route enters Loomis State Forest and heads up the ominously named "Skull and Crossbones Road" where an old homestead cabin and corral can be seen before heading down to North Fork Toats Coulee Creek. There is a geocache near the viewpoint above Cold Springs Campground up Ninemile Creek Road (see map for coordinates). The route then winds down steep switchbacks into a spectacular valley just south of Palmer Lake in the Sinlahekin Valley. With the dirt and gravel behind you, pavement leads you north past Palmer Lake through the former town of Nighthawk along the Similkameen River to the Nighthawk border crossing from the US into Canada.

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WABDR FAQ

Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route.  

WABDR Packing List

(This packing list serves as an example and is not intended to be a complete list for your backcountry riding needs. Feel free to customize this list to work for you.)