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Have you thought about hiking the Berg Lake trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park? The trail wins the popularity award in the Canadian Rockies. It sees more backpackers (almost 4,000 per year) and day hikers than any other trail in the Rockies. But don’t be put off by this fact.
There is a good reason so many people hike the Berg Lake trail – extraordinary scenery and a fantastic backpacking experience. Imagine gazing at waterfalls galore and looking up to the summit of Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3,954 m. Camp – looking out at glaciers and wildflower-filled meadows. If you get a good weather window, this multi-day hike is bliss.
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Beauty on this standout multi-day hiking trip
If you’re looking for big, bold Rocky Mountain scenery – the kind that takes your breath away then you’ll find it on the Berg Lake trail. The backdrop, should you be lucky enough to see it, as it’s often shrouded in mist or cloud, is Mount Robson, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies rising 3,000 metres above the valley floor.
Mount Robson is so big that it makes its own micro-climate, a good thing if you’re keen to hike by mid-June as it’s warmer than nearby Jasper.
Not only is Berg Lake a first-class destination but the trail up to the lake offers an astounding variety of scenery.
It starts gradually, climbing alongside the Robson River through a micro rainforest of hemlock and cedar. The year I did it was a wet one and large sections of the trail for the first few kilometres were underwater.
The route to Berg Lake
Kinney Lake is the first major landmark you reach and the location of the first of seven campsites. It’s also the end of the trail should you be riding a bike.
Next up is the fantastic Valley of a Thousand Falls, accessed via a very steep climb. Named waterfalls you pass include White Falls, Falls of the Pool and Emperor Falls.
From Emperor Falls it’s another 3 kilometres to reach the shores of Berg Lake. Look for the Berg Glacier as you continue along the trail. Sometimes you might even see a recently calved iceberg. Look up too. The face of Mount Robson rises over 2,300 metres above the lake.
Many people call it quits at the Berg Lake Campground as it’s got a cabin for cooking indoors, a plus when you consider that the climate here is notoriously wetter than in either Banff or Jasper National Park.
But if you want a taste of solitude continue to the Rearguard or Robson Pass Campgrounds, one and two kilometres away respectively. Almost no one goes there.
Try to allot a few extra days in the Berg Lake area and use them to explore Snowbird Pass and/or do the Hargreaves Glacier/Mumm Basin Route. Both offer outstanding vistas and wonderful wildflowers in summer.
Useful information for your hike on the Berg Lake trail
Distance: Gain 800 metres over 23 kilometres (that gets you to the Robson Pass Campground) It’s 21 kilometres to Berg Lake.
Where: The trailhead is at the Visitor Center 80 kilometres west of Jasper, 320 kilometres northeast of Kamloops
Time Needed: Two days at an absolute minimum and up to five days to explore Hargreaves Glacier or Snowbird Pass
When: Mid-June – late September
How: Get a back-country permit at the Visitor Center on Highway 16. There are 7 campgrounds along the trail – in order from closest to furthest – Kinney Lake, Whitehorn, Emperor Falls, Marmot, Berg Lake, Rearguard and Robson Pass. You need to plan ahead where you want to camp.
- All campsites can be reserved online via the Discover Camping website. You can start booking October 1 for the following summer.
- You can reserve campsites beginning for the period starting around June 12 to September 30th.
- Each tent pad reservation has a non-refundable charge of $6/night (plus tax) to a maximum of $18 (plus tax).
- Backcountry pass is $10 pp per night for people 16 and over, $5 pp per night if under 16.
- It is an additional $5 to make a reservation by phone. The number in Canada/US is 1-800-689-9025. International callers should dial 1-519-826-6850.
- If you do not have a reservation, the only sites you can hope to score are the non-reserved sites or cancellations when available.
Options: Do the 21.2 kilometre round trip to Snowbird Pass, a 6 kilometre loop to Hargreaves Glacier or the 12 kilometre Mumm Basin loop
Fun fact: Mount Robson Provincial Park, is included within the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks as a UNESCO world heritage site. It boasts 224,866 hectares, 200 kilometres of trails, 182 species of birds, 43 species of mammals and 4 species of amphibians.
What to take with you in this hike
The weather in the mountains can change on a dime so you really must go prepared. Take the 10 hiking essentials. Dress in layers and be sure to include some warm clothing like this lightweight down jacket. My preference is always one with a hood. Take a warm hat and gloves, even in summer.
Hiking poles can be invaluable on the steep sections of trail. And for comfort at night, nothing beats a camp pillow. In case of gear emergencies, I would recommend a product like tenacious tape for repairing coat, tent or sleeping bag rips.
I would also highly recommend carrying a waterproof top map of the Berg Lake area.
Further reading on backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies
- Hiking the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park
- The Overnight Hike to Fish Lakes: One of the Best Hikes in Banff
- A 3 Day Backpacking Trip that Includes Egypt Lake
- Backpacking to Baker Lake in Banff National Park
Are you one of the 4,000 people per year that has hiked the Berg Lake Trail?
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