Hiking the Berg Lake trail is one of the most rewarding experiences the Canadian Rocky Mountains have to offer. Located in Mount Robson Provincial park, it is a short drive from Jasper National Park. On this hike you will witness beautiful waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, stunning glaciers, and if you are lucky, the peak of Mount Robson.
If this is your first backpacking trip, then read my guide on how to plan your first hiking trip.
This trek was completed over the Canada Day long weekend. I went on this trip with a friend of mine and in total we spent 4 days on the trail.
This post will describe my journey on the trail as well as providing some useful information at the end, for those also wishing to hike the Berg Lake trail.
What to Expect Hiking the Berg Lake Trail
Berg Lake is a hike-in hike-out trail. It is 21km to Berg Lake. The trail goes past Berg Lake and you can actually hike into Jasper. Here are a few thing to expect on the trail.
- The campsites themselves are fairly basic. Most have a sheltered area where you can cook and eat. All the sites will have food storage lockers, grey water disposal, outhouses and tent pads.
- This trail is very busy during the summer months and you will need to reserve a campsite.
- There are plenty of water sources and you will need to bring some form of water treatment.
- Fires are also not permitted on the trail, so you will need to bring a stove with you to cook with.
- But more importantly, you will experience the adventure of a lifetime.
Our Journey hiking the Berg Lake trail began Edmonton and we left around 12pm. We were not too concerned with getting a late start, since it was the middle of summer we knew it would still be light out untill 10pm. We purposely broke the hike up into two sections so we did not have to worry about the time.
If you plan on hiking past Whitehorn, you will need to get there a lot earlier.
Our plan was to first camp at the Whitehorn campsite. The next day we would head up to Rearguard. The third day would be spent doing short hikes from the campsite. The last day would be spent sauntering back to the car.
We were on the trail by 5:30 pm. We got to Whitehorne at 8:30.
Getting to the Berg Lake Trail
The trail head is located about an hour’s drive west of Jasper along highway 16. Stop in at Mount Robson visitor center to check in (you have to do this even if you are day hiking). You will need to register your license plate here if you plan on staying overnight.
Car Park to Kinney Lake
Once you have checked in, you can head up the road to the Berg Lake car park. This part of the trail follows the Robson River, until you reach Kinney Lake. You will stroll through a forest along a well-established path. This trail is also good for riding a bike if you want to as well.
After 5 km you will reach the shores of Kinney Lake. You will come across a picnic area where you can stop for a break. There is also a side trail that will take you closer to lake for that perfect photo op. Even if you don’t have time to camp for a few days, it is worth it to come see this lake. Press on for a few more k’s and you will get to the Kinney Lake campground.
This is a good place to stop for a break. It is another 4 km’s to the next campsite.
Kinney Lake to Whitehorn campsite
After taking a short break, and resupplying our water. It was time to head on to Whitehorn campsite. After this section, biking is no longer allowed.
This is a bit more challenging than the last section of the trail, and involves a lot of up and downs. The first km will have you hiking through some more bush. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the lake when you can. You will then have to cross sections of the river over bridges that have been put in place.
After a couple more km’s, you will come to a good old-fashioned suspension bridge. Cross one at a time and you fill find yourself at the Whitehorn campsite. If you plan on going all the way to Berg Lake, I highly recommend spending the night here, as the next part can be exhausting.
After a late start to the day, we are heading out from Whitehorn campsite to Rearguard. It should only take a few hours, but there is a challenging hike up ahead.
Valley of a Thousand Falls
This is the most challenging part of the trail, with 500m of elevation gain over 5 km. While not exactly a thousand waterfalls, there are definitely 3 or 4 big ones.
The uphill battle starts at about 1 kilometer after the campsite. You will cross another bridge, where you get to see the first major waterfall. Make sure you fill your water bottles here, as this is the last place until the Emperor Falls campground.
The next couple hours are going to be spent on switchbacks heading uphill. There are a few side trails here and there that lead over to a waterfall. So take advantage of this and plan a few breaks. You are putting in all this work after all, might as well enjoy it.
After what can seem like a never ending trail, you will finally come across a sign pointing to Emperor Falls. Unfortunately, this is not quite the end. It is actually a side trail to the Falls and I highly recommend taking the time to visit the falls. It is not far out of the way, and it is a good opportunity to take a break before the final push up the mountain.
With another 10 minutes of work, you will finally arrive at the Emperor falls campsite. Reward yourself with a quick break, and a chance to refill your water bottles. If you are staying here the night, you can pick a campsite right along the river.
Not much further until we reach Berg Lake.
From Emperor Falls, you will continue on a path mostly made up of Shale. So watch your step! As you get around the next corner your will come across the Mist Glacier and Mist Lake. You will venture over some small streams and eventually get to the Marmot campground.
As soon as you are past Marmot Campground, you will witness one of the most beautiful lakes in Canada. The turquoise coloured lake, with scattered icebergs, is located just underneath the Berg Glacier. Behind it stands the mighty Mount Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.
If you are feeling brave, head into the lake for a swim. But be warned, the water is around 0 degrees Celsius.
Continue on past Berg Lake and you will get to Rearguard campsite. This is the second last campsite along the trail. It is also the smallest. Keep following the path and you will get to Robson Pass campground. Here you have the option of hiking into Jasper, or walking up to the Robson glacier.
Today we were a bit sore from the last couple days, so we did a few short hikes in the area. There were a couple big storms throughout the day, so we spent a lot of time under the tarp playing cards.
We managed to complete some of Snowbird Pass, Toboggan Falls and also walked into Jasper.
Day Hikes along the Berg Lake Trail
Once you get up to Berg lake, there is plenty to do. I recommend staying for at least 2 days to make the most of it. I have provided a list of hikes that can be completed.
- Snowbird Pass: 22 km. This trail takes you past the Robson Glacier and will take a full day to hike. There are some spectacular views along this hike. Unfortunately it was still closed for Caribou calving, which takes place during May and June.
- Hargreaves. A short hike uphill that will take you to see Hargreaves glacier and lake.
- Toboggan Falls. A hike that will take you up alongside the beautiful Toboggan falls. It also offers a great view of Berg Lake.
- Mumm Basin Route. Excellent hike with a view. This will take you above the tree line where you will see multiple glaciers lakes and snowy peaks. It can be combined with Hargreaves trail, or Toboggan falls.
- Moose River Route. 105 km. Okay, maybe not a day hike, and should only be completed by experienced backpackers, But there is no reason why you can’t walk part of the trail and make a day hike out of it. The trail will take you into Jasper past Adolphus lake (7km return from Berg Lake). Keep going and you will get to Coleman Valley (26km return to Berg Lake)
If you do decide to continue on the Moose river route, you will have to register with Jasper park.
On the last day of the trail we were planning on hiking all the way back to the car. This should be doable since it is down hill, and are packs weigh a lot less. It still made for a long day, but we completed it in just under 6 hours.
Other Important Information
There are 7 campgrounds along the trail.
- Kinney Lake. 7 km’s from the trail head. This is an easy campground to get to and an excellent place to spend your first night.
- Whitehorne. 11 km’s from the trail head. Enjoy a peaceful nights sleep next to the river. I recommend staying here for your first night if you plan on getting in late, or need to break up the day before hiking up the valley of a thousand falls.
- Emperor Falls. 16 km’s from the trail head. One of the smaller campgrounds with 9 tent pads. Situated right next to Robson river. This site is a bit less secluded than others and many of the tent pads are right along the trail. If you are looking for a bit more privacy it might be best to choose another site.
- Marmot. Located at the start of Berg Lake, this is a good option if you are looking for a smaller campsite, but still close to Berg lake.
- Berg Lake. The largest and busiest site on the trail. I recommend avoiding if you are trying to enjoy the peace and quite of the mountains. There is a little cabin you can use for cooking and eating. But why come all this way to eat inside.
- Rearguard. The smallest site on the trail. I quite enjoyed this site. There are only 5 sites here and is a perfect spot if you want to get away from the crowds.
- Robson Pass. Last campsite on the trail. It is right next to the Jasper Park, Mount Robson Provincial park border.
What to Bring.
One of wonderful parts of hiking the Berg Lake trail is its remoteness. This also means that there are no resources along the trail, so everything will have to be carried with you. You will need to bring the 10 essentials plus a bit more.
- Shelter. This will have to be a tent. If you are into hammock camping, unfortunately they are not allowed on the trail. You can make a tarp shelter like I did, but remember to bring some form of bug net as there are a ton of them (We are next to a lake after all)
- Sleeping bag. Even during the summer it can get quite cold especially during night. I recommend one that is rated for 0C
- Sleeping pad. You will need one of these, unless you prefer to sleep on hard, rocky ground.
- Rain gear. The weather can be unpredictable on Mount Robson. Mount Robson is known for creating its own weather systems and you will need to be prepared for a sudden storm. This should also include dry bags to protect your sleeping bag and clothes from getting wet.
- Stove/food. There are no fires allowed, so you will have to bring your own stove and fuel. I brought a trangia alcohol stove with me. It did the job but I found it difficult to light the stove because we were at a higher altitude. Once I did get it started it cooked just fine. Next time I might bring a canister stove as they are more reliable.
- Bear spray. Bears are common on this trail. It is a good idea to bring some bear spray with you.
- Water filter. You should bring something to purify the water and make it safe for drinking.
- Toilet paper. There is no toilet paper provided so you will have to bring your own.
Until Next Time Berg Lake
The Berg Lake trail was a memorable adventure and I highly recommend that you do it. You will spend your time visiting beautiful lakes and glaciers.
I definitely plan on visiting again. To make it more adventurous I might even try to complete the moose river route.
If you plan on going on this adventure you can make a reservation at discovercamping.ca.
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