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Emperor Falls On The Berg Lake Trail

Berg Lake Trail Hiking Guide

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.

Note: The Berg Lake Trail is closed for the rest of the 2021 hiking season due to damage from flooding. 

Reflection in Kinney Lake - Photo credit: Frank Kovalchek on Flickr
Reflection in Kinney Lake – Photo credit: Frank Kovalchek on Flickr

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Berg Lake Trail – 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 m 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.

Me at the start of the hike
Me at the start of the hike

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.

My friend Sarah crossing a roaring river
My friend Sarah crossing a roaring river

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 km 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 m above the lake.

Valley of a Thousand Falls
Valley of a Thousand Falls
Emperor Falls on the Berg Lake Trail
Emperor Falls
Hiking the Berg Lake trail under the treat of rain
Hiking the Berg Lake trail under the treat of rain

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.

Mt Robson lost in the clouds
Mt Robson lost in the clouds on the Berg Lake Trail

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.

A wildflower filled view over towards Snowbird Pass
A wildflower filled view over towards Snowbird Pass

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.

A view of Mount Robson before the clouds move in
A view of Mount Robson before the clouds move in

Useful  information for your hike on the Berg Lake trail

Distance: Gain 800 m over 23 km (that gets you to the Robson Pass Campground) It’s 21 km to Berg Lake.

Where: The trailhead is at the Visitor Center 80 km west of Jasper, 320 km 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.

The Berg Lake area was frosty on a July day
The Berg Lake area was frosty on a July day

Reservations for Berg Lake

  • All campsites can be reserved online via the Discover Camping website. You can start booking in non-COVID years on 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 km round trip to Snowbird Pass, a 6 km loop to Hargreaves Glacier or the 12 km 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 km 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. 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.

Berg Lake trail hike in July
It was bloody cold in July when my friend and I did the hike

Are you one of the 4,000 people per year that has hiked the Berg Lake Trail?

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

A hiking guide to the fabulous Berg Lake Trail in Mt Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia





Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 60 Comments

  1. How do you hike on a trail that’s underwater? That doesn’t sound easy at all, but I guess it’s worth it for the gorgeous scenery that you get.
    My favorite part of the hike has to be that one person bridge though. I’d be so tempted to stand under it then jump up and make people answer riddles before I’d let them cross.

    1. @Steve You hike the trail by stepping gingerly from rock to rock and occasionally getting wet. I was blown away by ow covered the trail was in places with water. You sound like you’d make a very good toll collector.

  2. I haven’t been but would love to visit this area! Wow, that first picture sold me. As usual, your pictures have amazed me.

  3. Never thought of backpacking this area, but it’s so beautiful! Would love to have a try and enjoy what the mother nature created there. By the way, you look like a proper backpacker!

    1. @Ted I’d like to see 8000 readers of this post but I’m not so sure I want to see even more people out hiking – but then that just sounds selfish. We certainly didn’t feel like the trail was very busy and that was over several weekdays in July.

  4. Wow! This is absolutely stunning! Love the reflection picture! This definitely took my breath away and I can imagine how it looks in person.I wouldn’t want to leave! Who wouldn’t want to visit some place called Valley of a Thousand Falls?

    1. @Mary The only time you might not want to be in the Valley of a 1000 Falls is when it’s raining hard. It could be just a tad miserable then. But for us it was very cool to see that enormous rock face with so many waterfalls spilling over.

  5. Well, you certainly look very eager the the start of the hike. Beautiful place. No, I’ve never been there, but would love to be one of the 4000. The Valley of 1000 Falls sounds & looks so dramatic.

    1. @Cathy The bulk of the hike offered dramatic scenery. Four thousand sounds like a lot of people but over the season and the length of trail it doesn’t actually feel overcrowded.

  6. One of my favorite hikes anywhere in the world. I think I’ve done it 3 or 4 times now.

    (and I think I’m good for 3 or 4 more at least)

    1. @Dustin The Berg Lake Trail is definitely one I’d do again – though it’s probably a few years off again as there are so many stupendous trails in the Rockies to check out.

  7. Oh my gosh I want to go so bad! We camped near Mt. Robson two years ago and the scenery was just amazing. Headed back this year, but bringing our pup – so no backpacking this time around. I’d love to do it on another trip though!

  8. Got my permits for first week of July 2014 (eight weeks from now). Spending four days and hoping to see Snowbird and get a “cloudless” picture of Mt. Robson and berg Glacier. Any tips..??
    After that, I am doing the Huber Ledges Alpine and Abbotts Pass in YOHO to make one great week!!!!!
    Thank You Canada….
    Steve ,WA, USA

    1. @Steve Hope you have time to hike to Snowbird Pass. Your Lake O’Hara trip will be awesome. Are you camping or staying in the hostel? You can have afternoon tea at Lake O’Hara Lodge which is a civilized way to end a hike.
      You are in for such a treat.

  9. I backpacked Berg Lake for 4 days last year from 6/30-7/3 and had all bluebird skies..!!! 80 plus degrees. I was on Snowbird Pass trail on July 1st, which is not to be missed. I loved it so much…I’m going back the same week this year!!!

  10. I hope to join the Burg Lake trekking.
    Start day: July 5-6, 2015 ( 2 day)
    You have a space ?? One Man.

  11. Hi, my wife and I are from London and are doing a ‘Heli Hike’ in August this year. So we get dropped off and hike back down. Just wondered if we should carry anything in addition to our ‘normal’ hiking gear, or take any items specific for hiking in this area. Thanks for any advice. Paul

    1. @Paul I would take a can of bear spray. It can get really chilly in the evening or if it rains so I always take a very lightweight but super warm down jacket. Don’t forget a warm toque & mitts as well. It’s a glorious hike. Enjoy it.

  12. I hiked this trail about two weeks ago and I’m still trying to get over the astounding beauty of it. Spent 4 days in the park with one day dedicated to the Snowbird Pass. Absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for writing this article, I was using it during my research before the trip.

  13. I have been loving your posts! So much great information I have been using to plan our trip through the Rockies this summer. We have already booked Skoki Trail and the Skyline Trail. I am now considering this one but not sure we will have the time. If we were to hike for a day or two only on this trail what would you recommend? Sounds like it is worth at least some time!

    1. @Tori You could go up and camp part way and then the next AM go another 1-2 hours up without heavy packs and then walk all the way out. That way you’d get a taste. Or do as friends have done and take a helicopter in and walk out.

  14. Just wanted how much I appreciate your articles, thank you for the thoughtful information on all these destinations.

        1. @Michelle The website seems to suggest that dogs are allowed on a leash. But I’ve also tweeted a question out and will see what I get. Otherwise try calling reservations as they should know. If I get something on Twitter I’ll get back to you.

  15. Just back from a two-night fly-in/hike-out from Robson Pass to the trailhead, and I enjoyed your nice, succinct trip report, with some inspiring photos! I especially like the mountains reflected in a mirror-still Kinney Lake. Better weather than we had, but i hear this is an especially wet summer in the area…

    Thanks also for the stats, which I haven’t seen in other blogs, stories and th elike. I knew the Trail was popular, but didn’t realize it was the most popular in the Canadian Rockies! Thanks for the fact checking. Hope you don’t mind if I cite some of your figures in my own post. I’ll include a citation of course 🙂

  16. Hello,
    I am looking at doing this hike next year in place of a bachelor party. and wondering how much farther of a hike it is from berg lake to robson lake via snow bird pass? I think that would put an exclamation point on the hiking trip.

  17. Counting down the days until September 1st to do this hike with my mom!!!!!!! We’re going to be staying at the EF CG. Any suggestions or helpful hints or tips for us? L O V E your blog !!!! I’m moving to black diamond Alberta in a few months as well, and am in love with all of your awesome hikes and adventures in southern Alberta!!!! Keep up the great blog please 🙂

    1. @Randi Thank you for your very kind comment. Just be sure to have clothes for all season on that hike. You’ll be seeing more hikes written up from southern Alberta this summer. Appreciate the support.

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