green water of berg lake with mountain glacier

Berg Lake Trail

Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia

Berg Lake Trail is a Canadian Rockies Classic. From glaciers covering the mountainsides to ice-blue lakes that fill the gaps between lush green forest, this trail is everything that you would hope it to be while exploring the great white north

What is the Berg Lake Trail? 

Berg lake trail is a world-renowned backcountry hiking trail that walks through three bioclimatic zones. Seeing about 4000 hikers a year, this trail offers amazing camping, exploration, and scenery opportunities. 

Starting at the foot of Mt Robson just off highway 16 in British Columbia, Canada. Ending up at Robson pass 23 km from the trailhead, this trail gives a wide variety of opportunities for all levels of hikers. 

The trail itself gains about 800m in 23km. With the most challenging part being Emperor Hill which makes up 515m of that elevation over 5km. With 7 campgrounds along the 23km trek, opportunities for multi day trips are almost endless. 

Hiking this trail you can expect to meet people from all over the world while staying in some of the most beautiful landscapes Canada has to offer.

Getting to Berg Lake Trail

Getting to the Berg Lake trail is a beautiful adventure in itself. No matter which direction you decide to come from (east or west) you will be driving along Highway 16 (Trans Canada Highway). 

This drive will have you on the edge of your seat and your nose to the window. There are so many surreal waterfalls and lakes that line the roadside along with towering peaks, the feeling of being small will overwhelm you.

mount robson visitor center

Mount Robson Visitor Center

Roughly 62kms west of Alberta’s, Jasper National Park sits the Mount Robson visitor center. This for many is the starting point for the Berg Lake trail. Once you arrive and park your car, there are plenty of signs guiding you to the trailhead. 

If you have booked your campsites, be sure to walk into the visitor center to obtain your laminated trail permit before heading onto the trail.          

Camping at Berg Lake Trail

Camping along the Berg Lake trail is something I highly recommend. There is too much to see and do for a single day trip. The beautiful thing about the trail is how incredibly customizable it is. 

There are 7 amazing campgrounds along the 23 km that have a lot to offer. You can schedule your trip to meet your desires. Each site allows for a maximum 14 day visit, giving you the opportunity to explore much of the trail while having a home base.

The campgrounds are based on a first come first serve basis, but that being said you must book in advance and acquire your camping permits for your desired sites. 

The campsites along Berg Lake trail fills up very fast so to secure your position be sure to plan your trip and then book it as soon as the park opens up for reservations.

They take reservations starting in October for the following year and reservations are usually filled by mid-December. So if you are unable to be flexible with your stay, be sure to have your trip planned so you are ready come October 1st.

Reservation prices $(CAD)

  • 6$ per night / per tent pad
  • 10$ per person / per night
  • 5$ phone fee (if reserving over the phone) 

*To make a reservation, please visit www.discovercamping.ca*

Each campground comes equipped with:

  • Bear bins
  • Pit toilets
  • Wash Bins
  • Dump stations
  • Tent pads

Campground don’ts: 

  • No fires
  • No dogs
  • No hammocks
  • No littering              

Kinney Lake

Kinney Lake will be the first campground you will run into along the Berg Lake trail. An easy and beautiful 7km hike from the trailhead, this is perfect for people looking to bring children, first-timers, or those looking to do some bike-in camping. 

Don’t write off Kinney Lake just because of its humble approach and short distance from the trailhead. With a picture-perfect blue lake surrounded by a border of vibrant green old-growth forest, Kinney Lake offers some of the best views. 

For those who choose to stay here, expect lots of traffic during the days as backcountry goers and day hikers will be passing through, but with epic views and amazing campsites along with a fantastic open style shelter, Kinney Lake is a must for those hitting the Berg Lake trail.  

Information – Kinney Lake 

  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Distance from trailhead – 7km
  • Distance to next site – 4km
  • Shelter – Open style shelter available
  • Fires – No
  • Pets – Day use only
  • Tent Pads – 14
  • Toilets – Pit style
  • Wash bins – Yes
  • Bear bins – Yes
  • Dump station – Yes

Whitehorn

After leaving Kinney Lake you will quickly come to a fork in the trail. On one side of the fork you will see a sign pointing to the Whitehorn ranger station and on the other side you will see a suspension bridge hanging over a rapid river…  

Take a deep breath and walk across that bridge. After a laugh and feeling of accomplishment, you will be at the second stop of the Berg Lake trail. 

Nestled at the foot of the valley of a thousand falls, Whitehorn campground has endless views of waterfalls paired with the sound of a rocky river. This campground is the second largest on the trail with 22 tent pads, so if crowds are not your thing push forward to Emperor falls. 

jake takes a break after climbing emperor hill

Taking a break after the Emperor Hill climb

Whether you decide to stay at Whitehorn or not, make sure you fill up on water before moving on because this will be your last chance to fill up your bottles before you hit the challenging Emperor Hill. With all the ice-cold waterfalls in sight but out of reach, you will be kicking yourself in the ass if your water bottle is running dry. 

Information – Whitehorn

  • Difficulty – Easy/Moderate
  • Distance from trailhead – 11km
  • Distance to next site – 5km
  • Shelter – Open style shelter available
  • Fires – No
  • Pets – Day use only
  • Tent Pads – 22
  • Toilets – Yes
  • Bear bins- Yes
  • Toilets – Pit style
  • Wash bins – Yes
  • Bear bins – Yes
  • Dump station – Yes

*LAST CHANCE FOR WATER BEFORE EMPEROR HILL*

Emperor Falls

As you start making your way to the top of Emperor Hill, the sound of a waterfall will surely overwhelm you and once at the top you will be welcomed with the glorious cooling mist of Emperor Falls. 

emperor falls cascading from the mountains

Emperor Falls

This majestic powerhouse is the largest waterfall in the valley of a thousand falls. Reaching this checkpoint on your adventure will be a mixed bag of emotions. If you get this far, you have just conquered one of the most challenging parts of the whole trail but you still have 6km of gradual incline to go. 

Keep going!

After you rest and pass around high fives while sharing “awwws” of the pure power of the waterfall, you will continue for a very short distance to the actual campground. Here at the Emperor Falls campground, you will be greeted by a nice quiet 9 site campground. 

Information – Emperor Falls

  • Difficulty – Moderate/Hard
  • Distance from trailhead – 16km
  • Distance to next site – 3km
  • Shelter – No shelter
  • Fires- No
  • Pets – Day use only
  • Tent Pads – 9
  • Toilets – Pit style
  • Wash bins – Yes
  • Bear bins – Yes
  • Dump station – Yes
view from berg lake trail between emperor falls and marmot campground

Hiking between Emperor Falls and Marmot campground

Marmot

Marmot campground is a beautiful 7 pad site. Sitting on the south edge of Berg Lake and having amazing views of Mt Robson, Mist Glacier and Berg Glacier, this campground is a favorite amongst hikers on the trail. 

Marmot Campground is a great home base for many day hikes as it is only roughly 4km from the infamous day trips like Snowbirds Pass, Hargreaves Lake, and Mumm Basin.

With all of these amazing views and day trips matched with an equally awesome sense of privacy and quietness, it’s easy to see why this place is such a ticket for those spending multiple days on the Berg Lake trail.

Information – Marmot

  • Difficulty – Moderate/Hard
  • Distance from trailhead – 19km
  • Distance to next site – 2km
  • Shelter – No shelter
  • Fires – No
  • Pets – Day use only
  • Toilets – Pit style
  • Wash bins – Yes
  • Bear bins – Yes
  • Dump station – Yes

Berg Lake

Berg Lake campground is the heart of the trail. This is where you will have amazing views of Berg Lake and its surrounding glaciers, the towering peaks of Mt Robson, Mt Rearguard and even a bit of Mt Whitehorn.

From here you will have almost immediate access to many of the day hikes like Snowbirds Pass, Mumm Basin and Toboggan Falls

But what makes this campground special, in my opinion, is the social aspect of it. At Berg Lake campground, there are 26 tent pads along with a large closed in style shelter. Here you will meet hikers and adventurers from all over the globe. 

view of berg glacier from the berg lake campground

Stunning view of Berg Glacier from the Berg Lake Campground

From mountaineers that tell stories of times in the Himalayas to the fun time adventurers who packed in beer to drink in celebration of a job well done.

If the crowds are not your thing but you desire the accessibility of all the day hikes, this campground has secluded sites further into the trees away from the crowds.

If you decide to stay at Berg Lake campground and feel like doing something insane, do what the Canadians call a “ Polar Plunge”. This is when you jump into the ice-cold lakes and go for a swim.

You will most likely see people doing this when passing through Berg Lake campground. There are also mountaineering and climbing opportunities for those looking for a little thrill.  

Information – Berg Lake

  • Difficulty – Moderate/Hard
  • Distance from trailhead – 21km
  • Distance to next site – 1km
  • Shelter – Shelter with walls
  • Fires – No
  • Pets – Day use only
  • Tent Pads – 26
  • Toilets – Pit style
  • Wash bins – Yes
  • Bear bins – Yes
  • Dump station – Yes

Rearguard

Equipped with 5 tent pads and a short 1km trek from both the Berg Lake campground and the Robson Pass campground, Rearguard has a lot to offer those seeking solitude and the accessibility to the many day hikes. 

a tent pad on the berg lake trail

A tent pad at one of the campgrounds on the Berg Lake trail

The campground itself is settled just past the north side of Berg Lake, offering you a decent view of Robson Glacier, Berg Glacier, and Rearguard Mountain.

Staying at Rearguard campground, you can guarantee your solitude from the large crowds, access to many day hikes, pretty sweet views and relaxing sounds of a constant creek flowing next to the tent pads.    

Information – Rearguard

  • Difficulty – Moderate/Hard
  • Distance from trailhead – 21km
  • Distance to next site – 1km
  • Shelter – No shelter
  • Fires- No
  • Pets – Day use only
  • Tent Pads – 5
  • Toilets – Pit style
  • Wash bins – Yes
  • Bear bins – Yes
  • Dump station – Yes

Robson Pass 

Robson Pass is the last of the 7 campgrounds on the Berg Lake trail. It has 15 tent pads as well as a lean-to style shelter. Sitting southwest of the B.C and Alberta provincial border, Robson Pass campground is a popular home base for thrill-seekers looking to climb Robson Glacier or go to the peak of Mt Robson itself. 

Here you can access the Moose river route along with all the other famous day hikes Berg Lake trail has to offer.

crossing a wooden footbridge on the berg lake trail

Be careful on the narrow footbridge!

Entering this campground you will cross a little wooden bridge that goes over a slow-moving creek, just after crossing the bridge, you will get to the ranger cabin and just past the ranger cabin you will be at the campground itself. At Robson Pass campground you will have tops views of Robson Glacier and Mt Rearguard.

Information – Robson Pass

  • Difficulty – Moderate/Hard
  • Distance from trailhead – 23km
  • Distance to next site – N/A
  • Shelter – Lean-to style shelter
  • Fires- No
  • Pets – Day use only
  • Tent Pads – 5
  • Toilets – Pit style
  • Wash bins – Yes
  • Bear bins – Yes
  • Dump station – Yes

How Long Does the Berg Lake Trail Take?

Well,  the Berg Lake trail can be completed in a full day in roughly 14 hours returned. But the whole point of the trail is to stop and stay at the campsites and explore the amazing day hikes.

I did the trail in 5 days staying at the Berg Lake campground for 3 nights and exploring all the day hikes from there. Then staying at Emperor Falls and Kinney Lake on the way down. 

The options are truly endless. If you are looking for a recommended time, I would say that anywhere between 3-5 days will be enough. But if deciding to only stay for 3 days, I would highly suggest getting above Emperor Hill the first night so that you have energy and time to do the day trips that are offered in the last 7 km of the trail. 

Berg Lake Trail Difficulty

The beautiful thing about Berg Lake is that it offers opportunities for all skill levels. You can be a first-timer or an advanced hiker and you will still find all aspects of a great hike. 

The most challenging part is the Emperor Hill which is between Whitehorn campground and Emperor Falls campground. It is about 515m of elevation over a 5km stretch.

The whole trail offers 800m elevation increase over 23 km. Overall I would say the Berg Lake trail is an easy hike with moderate sections.   

What to Bring?                                                           

If you are hiking Berg Lake trail and are planning to camp, there are a few key items you will need.

First and foremost you will need some solid footwear. This trail is diverse in its landscapes and you will be walking over lots of rocks and roots.

There are some river crossings so the possibility of falling in is there so waterproof hiking boots will be advantageous.

You will also need the camping permits that you acquired from the Mt Robson visitor center if you plan on camping. 

A camping stove is also important if you are planning on camping due to the fact that no fires are allowed on the trail. 

A good windbreaker/waterproof jacket is a major bonus. The weather on Mt. Robson’s Berg Lake trail is completely unpredictable and it is common to see sunshine, rain, and snow all in the same day. So be prepared with quality layers. 

And all other basic camping equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, flashlights, camera, and all that fun stuff. 

When to go?

The best time to hike Berg Lake trail, if you are planning to camp, is between July and August. During this time the weather is a little more predictable and Snowbirds Pass (amazing day hike) is open to the public. 

The only downside to this is that the crowds are generally large and getting a campsite is more difficult. June is also great but the weather at the start of the month is still very iffy. 

If you are equipped and have experience hiking and camping in diverse weather and want to avoid the crowds, I would say the best time to go would be September. But no matter when you go, the trail is still amazing and can offer you so much. 

Day Hikes to Check Out

Some of the amazing day hikes leading off the Berg Lake trail: 

  • Kinney Lake
  • Mumm Basin
  • Toboggan Falls
  • Snowbirds Pass (highly recommended)
  • Hargreaves Trail

Many of these day hikes are at the end of the trail at kilometer 22. So be sure to get to the end of the trail and check out some of these amazing hikes. 

Berg Lake Trail Wildlife

So, whenever going into the backcountry you can and should expect to see wildlife. In the Canadian Rockies, there is an extensive number of animals you can see on the trail. From Marmots and squirrels to Bighorn sheep and Caribou. 

Bears and Cougars are also amongst the diverse wildlife you can find but with so many people traveling the trails and with the park being so invested into trail maintenance, there will likely be warnings if a bear or cougar has been seen in the area. But with that said, always travel with bear spray and use your bear bins for food storage.

So, is it worth it?

YES! This trail is absolutely beautiful and the fact that it is appealing to hikers of all skill levels from all over the world really speaks volumes. Each challenge of the hike is rewarded with amazing views and experiences. 

The Berg Lake Trail is really the pinnacle of experiencing the Canadian Rockies. If I could offer one piece of advice it would be, what the hell are you waiting for!  

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berg lake and berg glacier