Spring has arrived in BC and that means backcountry hiking season has begun in the Rockies. When looking for an unforgettable backpacking experience, not much compares to the world-class Berg Lake Trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park. Located just west of the BC/Alberta border, this trail offers picturesque waterfalls, glaciers, wildlife and some of the province’s most stunning scenery. With an elevation gain of 800 m (2,600 ft) over 22 km (14 mi), it’s of moderate difficulty, with day hikes and multi-day hikes for all levels. The trail traces around the base of Mount Robson, which at 3,954 m (12,972 ft), is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies! Here’s what you can expect from the trail, courtesy of the staff at the British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Mount Robson.
There are many day hikes that can be enjoyed from the Berg Lake trailhead, or from the many campgrounds along the trail. From the Berg Lake trailhead, the trail follows the Robson River 4.5 km (2.7 mi) to Kinney Lake. This wide, easy section of trail makes for a great day hike, taking about 2.5 hours return trip. From the Berg Lake Campground, Snowbird Pass is a challenging 22-km (14-mi) return one-day hike, offering picturesque views of the back side of Mount Robson. If you are looking for a shorter hike once you reach the end of the Berg Lake Trail, you can choose to follow the 2-hour Toboggan Falls route, half-day Mumm Basin route from the Berg Lake Campground, or the half-day Hargreaves Lake route from Marmot Campground.
Insider Tip: Snowbird Pass is closed in May and June due to caribou calving, so be sure to time your visit accordingly.
The Kinney Lake campsite is located 2.5 km (1.6 mi) past the start of the lake, which makes it a great first night for campers starting the trail later in the day. The trail allows for bicycles as far as Kinney Lake, with a bike lock-up provided around the 8 km (5 mi) mark, after which cyclists will have to continue on foot. The second campsite along the Berg Lake Trail is Whitehorn, located 4 km (2.5 mi) past the Kinney Lake sites. This beautiful campsite is located along the Robson River, and has a sheltered area for cooking. After the Whitehorn Campsite, the trail begins to get steeper, with switchbacks and an elevation gain of 500 m (1,600 ft) over the next 5 km (3 mi) to Emperor Falls Campground. This incredible section of trail passes the Valley of a Thousand Falls, and offers amazing views of the largest of these waterfalls, Emperor Falls. From the Emperor Falls Campground, it’s an easy day’s walk to Berg Lake.
After Emperor Falls, there are three campgrounds within easy walking distance. The first that hikers will reach is Marmot Campground, 3 km (1.8 mi) further along the trail. This smaller campground only has seven sites and is perfect for those seeking quiet and serenity. In another 2 km (1.5 mi), you will reach the Berg Lake Campground. This is the largest and most popular campground on the Berg Lake Trail, with the historic Hargreaves Shelter, which is available for day use. This area offers outstanding views of Berg Lake, named for the ice bergs commonly seen floating in the gorgeous blue waters, after having broken off from the Berg Glacier. One kilometre further along the trail, you will reach Rearguard Campground. With only five tent sites, this is the smallest of the camping areas along the trail. Another kilometre past Rearguard and you will reach the last of the camping areas along the Berg Lake Trail. Robson Pass is often used for school groups and larger groups, so it can get quite busy during the summer months.
There are limited camping spots along the Berg Lake Trail, so booking ahead is a good idea. Reservations can be made at www.discovercamping.ca. Prior to beginning an overnight trip, travellers will need to stop by the BC Visitor Centre @ Mount Robson to pick up their camping permit. All campgrounds along the trail have pit toilets, food storage lockers, washbasins, and grey water pits. The parking area and trailhead for the Berg Lake Trail are located 2 km (1.2 mi) off the north side of Highway 16 at Mount Robson Provincial Park. For more information about the Berg Lake Trail, or to obtain camping permits, stop by the BC Visitor Centre @ Mount Robson.
Hiking the Highest Peak in the Canadian Rockies
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