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Backpacking To Berg Lake In Mount Robson Provincial Park

Backpacking to Berg Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park

Have you thought about backpacking the trail to Berg Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park? The trail to Berg Lake 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 to Berg Lake – extraordinary scenery and an extraordinary experience.

"Reflection in Kinney Lake, Mount Robson Provincial Park"

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

The beauty of a Berg Lake backpacking 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 trail to Berg Lake. 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. It’s 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.

"Crsossing the Robson River"

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 kilometers were underwater.

"One of the narrow footbridges to cross the Robson 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 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.

"Valley of a Thousand Falls"

Valley of a Thousand Falls

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.

"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 Berg Lake backpacking trip

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 – September

How: Get a back-country permit at the Visitor Center on Highway 16. Or make a reservation for anytime in the summer beginning on January 2nd on the Discover Camping website. You can also call 1-800-689-9025. There are 7 campgrounds along the trail.

Cost: Backcountry pass is $10 pp per night for people 16 and over, $5 pp per night if under 16, and $6 pp per night +13% tax to a maximum of $18 + tax to make a reservation. It is an additional $5 to make a reservation by phone. (Reservations aren’t required but they will give you peace of mind.)

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

Tour companies: Canadian Wilderness School and Expeditions

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.

Are you one of the 4,000 people per year that has been backpacking to Berg Lake?

Backpacking to Berg Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park

Leigh McAdam

 

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 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 56 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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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. If you have one more day, do the Iceline Trail – also in Yoho National Park.

  8. 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!!!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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 🙂

  14. 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.

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