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Emperor Falls on the Berg Lake Trail
Emperor Falls

Berg Lake Trail Hiking Guide

A standout multi-day hike in Mt. Robson Provincial Park

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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 and day hikers than any other trail in the Rockies. It appeals to people from all over the world, so don’t be surprised to hear some foreign languages spoken.

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 metres. Camp – looking out at glaciers and wildflower-filled meadows. If you get a good weather window, this multi-day hike is bliss. 

Berg Lake trail summary

  • The Berg Lake trail will still be closed in 2023 BUT the Kinney Lake campsite will reopen. (See below for details.)
  • It’s 21 km one way to Berg Lake. Add on 2 km to get to Robson Pass Campground.
  • The trail is on Pacific time.
  • There is no public transportation to the trail since Greyhound pulled their service. 
  • There is 800 metres (2,625 feet) of elevation gain.
  • You need a minimum of two days but preferably four or five days if you want to explore Hargreaves Glacier or Snowbird Pass.
  • The best time to go is from mid-June until late September BUT it can snow at any time.
  • The Snowbird Pass trail is closed every year until July 1st because of the caribou calving.
  • The Berg Lake Trail is located in Mount Robson Provincial Park, a one hour drive west of Jasper.
  • The trailhead is at the Visitor Center 80 km west of Jasper and 320 km northeast of Kamloops.
  • There are seven 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.
Reflection in Kinney Lake - Photo credit: Frank Kovalchek on Flickr
Reflection in Kinney Lake – Photo credit: Frank Kovalchek on Flickr

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Making a reservation for the Berg Lake trail

The Berg Lake trail was badly damaged during the floods of 2021. In 2023, the Berg Lake trail will stay closed BUT there will be 14 campsites opening at the Kinney Lake Campground on May 15, 2023. The campsites will stay open until September 30, 2023. 

Kinney Lake is seven kilometres from the Berg Lake Trail parking lot. It is only accessible on foot. 

Reservations will open on February 1, 2023 at 7 AM PT. Camping reservations can be made on the BC Parks website, four months in advance of the desired arrival date. The first reservable arrival date is June 1 2023. 

I don’t know what the latest prices are but the backcountry camping fees have always been reasonable – $10 per person per night. In the past you paid $6 per tent to a maximum of $18. Any permits you get should stay on your person.

Berg Lake Trail – a 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.

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.

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

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.

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
Mt Robson lost in the clouds
Mt Robson lost in the clouds on the Berg Lake Trail
A wildflower filled view over towards Snowbird Pass
A wildflower filled view over towards Snowbird Pass

Snowbird Pass – Hargreaves Glacier

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.

Note: Snowbird Pass is closed in May and June due to caribou calving, so plan your visit accordingly.

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

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 metres over 23 km (that gets you to the Robson Pass Campground) It’s 21 km to Berg Lake.

Helicopters: Before the flood you could fly to Robson Pass, but only on two days of the week.

Dogs allowed: Yes, leashed but only on day hikes.

Bears: Be bear aware and be sure to carry easily accessible bear spray.

Sleeping: Bring a backpacking tent as hammocks aren’t permitted.

Fires: No fires are allowed. Bring a camp stove.

Suggested 5-day itinerary:  Hike to Whitehorn campground on day one. Hike to Berg Lake campground on day two. Do a day hike to Snowbird Pass on day 3. On day 4 hike to either Whitehorn or Kinney Lake campground or all the way out. On day 5 finish if you camped at Whitehorn or Kinney Lake campgrounds.

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.

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

Berg Lake hiking map

Berg Lake trail map: Credit - BC Parks
Berg Lake trail map: Credit – BC Parks

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

More reading on multi-day backpacking trips in the Rockies

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





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