The Berg Lake Trail is the perfect hike for those who want to experience the Canadian Rockies. Located in British Columbia by the Alberta border, this world-class backcountry trail leads you around the majestic Mount Robson peak, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies. Along the way, you will experience glacier fed rivers, beautiful valleys, countless waterfalls, and a tranquil turqoise lake known as Berg Lake.
I hiked this with my buddy Sean during the BC Day long weekend in August 2015. It was definitely the best hike of the year. I want to share with you my experience of this hike through words and images captured from the trip. I hope I can persuade you to experience this hike for yourself.
We headed out of Vancouver early in the morning to make the 8 hour drive out to the Mount Robson visitor Centre. After checking in with the park ranger and an orientation video, we proceeded towards Kinney Lake to set up camp for the evening. The rivers we passed on our way toward the lake had a turquoise green colouration typical of glacier fed waters. Once we reached the campground, we setup camp just before sunset and relaxed by Kinney Lake before the long day ahead.
As sun broke, I got up early to explore the Lake the next day. Walking along the lake edge, I stumbled upon a meadow full of wildflowers and an unmarked memorial. After a quick breakfast, we packed up and headed towards Berg Lake. The hike took us along the riverbanks feeding Kinney Lake. Along the way, we cross suspension bridges and walkways made of wooden planks. As we closed towards the Whitehorn campground, we were greeted to a stunning view to the “Valley of a Thousand Falls”, aptly named for the countless number of waterfalls created from snow packs melting from nearby mountains. During the steep ascent from Whitehorn to Emperor Falls campground, remember to look behind you to enjoy spectacular views of this valley. Near the top, we were greeted by two beautiful falls. First was White Falls along the side of the trail, and second was Emperor Falls which was a short detour from the main trail. The mist from the massive and thunderous Emperor Falls was refreshingly cool and wet, perfect for the hot and sunny hike up.
Beyond Emperor Falls, the hike opens up significantly. This is where you will see Mt Robson in full view with the multiple glaciers carving down its side into Berg Lake. Berg Lake was named for the “icebergs” that float in the lake. During the 3 days we spent by the lake, you can often see and hear the glacier breaking apart and feeding the lake with these mini icebergs. Its definitely something not to be missed! As the evening crept in, we set up camp at the Rearguard campground, arguably the best camping spot out of all the campsites by berg lake. With a very limited number of tent pads, this site was peaceful, serene, clean, and offered spectacular views of both Mount Robson and Rearguard mountain. We were lucky enough to get a prime spot where our tent opens up to a view of Mount Robson every morning.
Weather is a bit unpredictable in high mountain ranges and the climate on the Berg Lake trail was no exception. Rain was definitely an issue and as a result, we didn’t get a chance to hike the Mumm Basin, Toboggan Falls, and Hargreaves Lake Routes. However, we were lucky enough to complete the Snowbird Pass Route. This 22km round trip hike is arguably the best day hike from Ber Lake. The route takes you behind Mount Robson to view the Mount Robson glacier and up to a beautiful alpine meadow before reaching Snowbird Pass. Every part of this trail was just stunning. I still remember how my jaws dropped as Sean and I reached the alpine meadows. It looked just like the a scene from the “Sound of Music”, with butterflies fluttering around me and a marmot scurrying away into its burrow after it spotted us. The photos just doesn’t to it justice. The end of the Snowbird Pass Trail was a lookout point overlooking the massive Reef Icefield and into Alberta. The sheer size of the icefield was just breathtaking. We enjoyed lunch overlooking the icefield and made our way back to camp at a leisurely pace to make sure we enjoyed every moment of the hike. The evening skies remained clear that evening. I stayed up a little longer to enjoy the night sky that I often can’t see in Vancouver. The Milky Way stretched across the night sky, hanging above Mount Robson and our tent as we retired for the night.
We woke up to a very wet morning the next day. Rain didn’t look like it was going to let up so we made a decision head back down the mountain. The 20km hike out was much easier than the hike in. We ended the trail with an obligatory photo by the trailhead and drove into Jasper for beers and a well earned nights rest.
For those who are considering this hike, I hope this post will give you a glimpse of what to expect. It was not a technically challenging hike and the trails were very well maintained. During rainy days, the Rangers were very helpful by coming out to various shelters along the trail to update the hikers and ensure everyone was well. Other interesting reads on the internet for this trail can be found here, here and here. If you want to experience the Rocky Mountains first hand, then I urge you to hike the Berg Lake Trail. It’s definitely an experience you will never forget.