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It is no secret that epic adventures require epic gear. Native to Washington State are two great organizations, one is Filson, the clothing manufacturer that we all know and love, and the second is a nonprofit called Backcountry Discovery Routes. Filson paired with The Washington Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR) on an article that combines adventure with practicality. BDR outlines one of their favorite trips, a route that follows the massive volcanic mountain range of The Cascades. Along the flanks of this range are natural forests that offer incredible networks of backcountry routes for motorcyclists in the continental United States. Filson recently released its first line of motorcycle gear. Pairing a great adventure with great gear is important and Filson is attempting to do just that.
Backcountry Discovery Route Nonprofit
Paul Guillen, one of four riders that first traversed these backcountry forest roads at the base of the Cascades, found the experience so profound and incredible that he himself decided to co-found a nonprofit called Backcountry Discovery Routes, an organization dedicated to creating more off-highway routes for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel.
Creating more off-highway routes provides more exciting opportunities, allowing motorcyclists to traverse some of the wildest, most scenic land that is offered in America. Aside from creating the routes. The Backcountry Discovery Routes nonprofit creates content like documentaries and more informal videos that are designed to bring awareness and knowledge to their work. Along with the creation of these videos and maps of the off roading routes, Backcountry Discovery Routes gives adventuring motorcyclists a safe way to experience this traverse.
The Washington Backcountry Discovery Route
Now the route which is the namesake of Paul Guillen’s nonprofit used to be the toughest terrain in the United States for off roading motorcycle rides. You start in the temperate rainforest and then slowly make your way to the desert. You really experience all the elements that Washington has to offer, making it a really epic ride. The tour of Washington Backcountry Discovery Route, or Washington BDR, takes six days.
The first day you travel from Oregon to Packwood, clocking around 120 miles. You travel across a modern steel bridge spanning the Columbia River, connecting Oregon and Washington, then navigate gravel and dirt roads that travel through the beautiful and temperate Gifford Pinchot National Forest. If you are lucky enough to miss Washington’s testy rain and bad weather, you can catch a glimpse of Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helen.
On the second day, you can enjoy the views as you travel 123 miles from Packwood to Ellensburg, where you will climb to 4,500 feet and drop over White Pass. You may recognize the name from the ski area that occupies the pass. Then you will drop down and enjoy some of the best views of Rainier’s glacier-caps along the Tieton River Valley.
Day three will consist of traveling only 77 miles from Ellensburg to Cashmere. Here, you will travel up miles and miles of twisty switch backs to a high-elevation two track and Cascade Range panoramas. According to Guillen, this stretch of the journey is one of the most enjoyable parts of the ride. During this stretch, you will enjoy riding the crest at 6,000 feet on the path along Table Mountain, where you can sometimes find Elk hiding in the meadows, if your motorcycle doesn’t scare them away.
On the fourth day, you can enjoy climbing from Cashmere to Chelan over the course of 104 miles. Here, you can see a beautiful 360-degree perspective of the stunning state of Washington from 5,810 feet. After climbing through dirt and exploring the fire lookout at Steliko point, you will end this leg of the journey riding on pavement, along the beautiful Lake Chelan. If you are looking for a bit of a luxury, you can enjoy the great wine and comfort that the town of Chelan has to offer. If you are committed to keeping your tour grungy, you can stay in one of many campgrounds nearby.
On your fifth day, you will travel 103 miles from the town of Chelan to Conconully, where you will pass yet another ski resort before entering the Okanogan National Forest. Okanogan National Forest is one of Washington’s biggest and most well known forests, reaching almost 1.5 million azores. You will really feel the remoteness of this trip on this leg of the journey. You will pass through miles and miles of forests until you pass through the town of Carlton, a small community within the forest that consists of only a gas pump and a single store. Then, you will continue onto the town of Conconully which has a population of 210. This leg of the journey will remind you why you embarked on this journey as you enjoy the remote forests and small forest communities.
On the sixth day of this trip, you have made it to the end! Your last day will take you from Conconully all the way to Canada in only 66 miles. Here, you will reach the route’s highest elevation at Lone Frank Pass at 6,667 feet. Then, you will reach your next forest, the Loomis State Forest where you can find huge peakes, an overwhelming density of pine trees and unique wildlife. When you emerge from the forest, you will wrap around the Palmer Lake and onto your final stretch, following the Similkameen River until you find yourself in Canada.
These six days are challenging and rewarding. Though the Washington BDR is not the toughest backcountry route for motorcyclists anymore, it is still a feat, and a beautiful one at that. As you travel through Washington’s beautiful landscape and experience the stunning views of the scenic volcanoes and dense forests, finally reaching Canada, you will feel completely remote and removed. This route is great for those who are looking to test their skills and spend some time in the outdoors.
Filson x Meta: Extraordinarily Present
Thor Drake is the founder and owner of Portland, Oregon’s See See Motorcycles and the One Moto Trade Show. Widely-respected in the Pacific Northwest motorcycle community, Thor was an obvious choice when it came time to field-testing the 2021 Filson Alcan Moto Collection on the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route. In Filson and Meta film’s collaboration on Filson x Meta: Extraordinarily Present, Thor shares a perspective from the trip and makes a strong case for venturing beyond your comfort zone.
Filson’s Alcan Collection
Filson is a Washington based outdoor apparel brand that has served different communities of outdoor enthusiasts since 1897. Starting out as a company that specialized in clothing and outfitting gold miners traveling to the Alaska gold rush, Filson has always been dedicated to high quality goods at an affordable price. As the outdoor community evolved, so did Filson. Today they make gear for all kinds of outdoor activities.
This year, Filson just released its first line of motorcycle gear. The Alcan Collection is made for motorcyclists who ride ADVs and dual sports, pushing past the restriction of pavement and into uncharted offroad territory. Like their other products, Filson’s Alcan Collection is made from top-quality materials and designed to resist both climate and impact.
Traveling on the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route requires a lot of determination and grit. You will be tested and it would be best if you were equipped with some of the best gear. You do not want something to go wrong while you are in the middle of the off road trails through Washington’s vast forest. Filson’s Alcan Collection is designed to be dependable and reliable, you won’t have any issues with their gear while on your way.
Alcan Canvas Cruiser.
Alcan Canvas Vest
Filson X Bell MX-9 Adventure Motorcycle Helmet
Alcan Leather Gloves
Shop the Alcan Collection Limited Release Moto Gear and Apparel
Choosing your gear for your epic adventures is one of the most important parts of having a successful trip. Especially in a sport as technical and dangerous as off-roading on a motorcycle, you want to make sure you are equipped with the best gear out there. Filson has been a trusted manufacturer among many different industries of outdoor sports and work and they are to be trusted. It can be assumed that their Alcan Motorcycle Collection will not disappoint.
Watch the Filson short film Filson x Meta: Extraordinarily Present here: