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Spring has arrived, and that means backcountry hiking season has begun in the Rockies. 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 trailhead, follow the Robson River 4.5 km (2.7 mi) to Kinney Lake. This wide, easy section of trail makes for a great day hike of 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. From the end of the Berg Lake Trail, follow the 2-hour Toboggan Falls route, the 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. From here cyclists must 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 sits 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 is Marmot Campground, another 3 km (1.8 mi) along the trail. This small campground only has seven sites, and is perfect for those seeking quiet and serenity. In another 2 km (1.5 mi) is the Berg Lake Campground. This is the largest and most popular campground on the Berg Lake Trail, with the historic Hargreaves Shelter available for day use. This area offers outstanding views of Berg Lake, named for the icebergs commonly seen floating in the gorgeous blue water after having broken off from the Berg Glacier. One kilometre further along the trail, you reach Rearguard Campground. With only five tent sites, this is the smallest of the camping areas along the trail. Another kilometre past Rearguard is 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 must 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.
Featured image: Hiking in Mount Robson Provincial Park. Photo: Megan McLellan
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