Accepted answer

I was able to solve my problem so I am posting what worked for me. Please answer or comment if there's changes or a better solution.

I wasn't able to trigger a click event on a Link, but I was able to simulate the aspects that I needed.

For this to work I needed the following:

  1. on a click event push to browserHistory to update the route
  2. link the 'active' css class to the current view/URL (I accomplished this through component state)
  3. update the state whenever the url is changed (modified state on window popstate event, and also update the currentView state on component will mount)

This results in the ability for the correct tab to be highlighted when a tab is clicked, when the url is manually changed to a certain route, and when the browsers back / forward buttons are used.

This is all the code in my navmenu file that creates a pretty cool navigation component and works with react-router and browserHistory.

import React, { Component, PropTypes } from 'react'
import { Link, browserHistory } from 'react-router'

class Navmenu extends Component {
  constructor(props) {
    this.state = { currentView: '' }

  // in case of url being manually set, figure out correct tab to highlight
  // add event listener to update the state whenever the back/forward buttons are used.
  componentWillMount() {
    window.addEventListener('popstate', this.changeLocation.bind(this))

  componentWillUnmount() {
    window.removeEventListener('popstate', this.changeLocation.bind(this))

  // update state based on the URL
  changeLocation() {
    const path = window.location.pathname.split('/')
    const currentView = path[path.length - 1]
    this.setState({ currentView })

  // update state and update react-router route
  navigateToRoute(route) {
    this.setState({ currentView: route })

  // give correct tab the 'active' bootstrap class
  getClasses(link) {
    let classes = 'btn btn-primary-outline flex-button'
    if (this.state.currentView === link) {
      classes += ' active'
    return classes

  render() {
    return (
      <div className="btn-group flex-navbar" data-toggle="buttons">
        <label className={this.getClasses('option1')} onClick={() => this.navigateToRoute('option1')}>
          <input type="radio" name="options" id="option1" autoComplete="off" defaultChecked />option1
        <label className={this.getClasses('option2')} onClick={() => this.navigateToRoute('option2')}>
          <input type="radio" name="options" id="option2" autoComplete="off" /> option2
        <label className={this.getClasses('option3')} onClick={() => this.navigateToRoute('option3')}>
          <input type="radio" name="options" id="option2" autoComplete="off" /> option3

export default Navmenu

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