The Berg Lake trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. It is challenging both mentally and physically while at the same time, incredibly rewarding. This is my blog on the 10 reasons why I believe that you should go and do this hike.
Difficulty: Beginner to advanced.
Berg Lake Trail is a world-renowned backcountry hiking trail. Gaining just under 800 metres in 23 kilometres, the trail traverses three biogeoclimatic zones.
I am going to go through the directions to get there, camping details, gear, park requirements, timeframe and best routes.
Mount Robson Glacier is Melting…Fast
Robson Glacier is the largest glacier on the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies at 3200 m .
Imagine laying down to sleep at night, surrounded by mountains. It is completely quiet, except for the sound of the wind causing your tent to drum. Then all of a sudden, you hear roaring thunder and feel the ground vibrate beneath you. This is an average night at Berg Lake campsite in the summer… you are not hearing thunder, rather pieces of the glacier falling off into the water. When you open your tent in the morning, you often see those pieces of ice floating by in the form of icebergs until they’ve melted. It’s sad and beautiful at the same time — but the reality is that the Glacier, due to to climate change, is retreating at a rate of 16-20 m/year.
It Has The Bluest Water You’ll Ever See
I initially mistook this lake for a pool of kool-aid….the incredibly blue and green silt laden glacial water is something that you will see deep inside the mountains. Glacier water is blue because of the way it reflects blue light. It is lonely but absolutely incredible. It absorbs every other color in the spectrum except blue.
Get a Bird’s Eye View
The views from hiking up and around Mount Robson are incredible but — if you can — I would recommend taking a helicopter into the Berg Lake camping site. There a lot of hikes in and around Mount Robson and taking a heli in will leave you with fresh legs for many more adventures. You can book flights in on Robson Heli Magic …….However, if you want to be both mentally and physically challenged, I would recommend hiking in to see how difficult it is!
We recommend offsetting your impact if you take the chopper — one tentree shirt would offset over 1000 flights into the park!
Get Lost in Nature
This is one of the few places in the world that you can feel truly lost in nature. When you wake up in the morning you are literally in the middle of the forest and when you walk out of your tent you will be in awe of the sunlit mountains surrounding you. you will be greeted by blue lakes reflecting the purple, red and orange colours of the sunrise and the fog transforms with the different temperatures. The gets thicker and appears to dance across the lake.
In a place as desolate as this you encounter some incredible wildlife. While on our last adventure in Berg Lake we encountered a wolverine in the distance. It looked just as curious, confused, and amazed as us. We are environmental advocates and this was an important reminder that protecting the park means protecting the wildlife inside it. When going on adventures like this, be sure to understand what to do in case you come upon this.
Waterfalls on Waterfalls on Waterfalls
Oh man, if you like waterfalls this is definitely the hike for you! Just beyond the first campsite (Kinney Lake), you enter into an area called the Valley of a Thousand Falls which are fed by Berg and Robson Glaciers. This hike has some of the most incredible waterfalls that you’ll ever see it. I have never been able to stand under a waterfall and feel it’s true power until standing under Emperor Falls during a rainstorm.
The Berg Lake Hike has Campgrounds with a Set Number of Spots
Once past Kinney Lake, you never feel like you are crowded in at any point. It’s rare to see many people on the trail. Parks restrict the number of people that are allowed to camp so you have to book well in advance to get a site. Because of limited numbers, your experience is much more enjoyable.
We had to get tentree Involved in this!
During our last trip to Berg lake we met with some of the park staff to find out where we could help. It turns out that there is a species of tree that is in grave danger of extinction in the Berg Lake Trail. It is called the white part Pines and we intend to help them re-forest it with the project coming in 2017.
Train for the Hike
Before doing the hike, be sure to have trained on either a stairmaster, elliptical or treadmill, because this is not an easy hike. To put it in perspective, you are doing over 800 meters of elevation (of which most of it is packed into 2km) and 46 km round-trip from the parking lot, plus another 5 km of hiking trails around the lake with steep elevation. You end up doing around 60km in 4-5 days with a heavy pack. It is a great challenge but don’t go in expecting it to be easy. This is coming from an athlete who is very active.
Itinerary (my recommendations)
Tip: Drive there from Calgary. Stop in Banff, Lake Louise, and drive along the Icefields Parkway.
What are the best campsite to go to or what is an ideal schedule to follow when going to the park? Here’s what I would suggest.
Day 1: Ideally you take a helicopter straight to the Berg Lake camp site. If you can get on one of the morning flights it gives you lots of time to set up camp and then you have the afternoon to hike. For the purpose of this blog I am going to assume that you will hike in and out.
So…Hike to Kinney Lake from the Berg Lake Trail parking lot and camp there. Start mid day so you view the sunset light on the mountain peaks. It is about 4.5 km (one way) and takes about 1.25 hours. This easy hike offers some incredible views along the way, however photographers will find the photo spots start once you hit Kinney Lake.
Day 2: Watch sunrise at Kinney Lake then hike to Berg Lake Campground. This will take 6-8 hours and is 16.5 KM and this is when you will gain most of the 800 meters in elevation. On the way up to the falls, you can stop at Emperor Falls — make sure to leave your pack at the top of the turn-off or else it will get soaked! And it’s a nice break.
Day 3: Take the Toboggan Falls Route, the trailhead is at the Toboggan Creek bridge near Berg Lake campsite. The trail takes you up to Toboggan Falls where there is an EPIC nap spot (see below). After a nice nap on the soft rocks, lulled by the sound of birds and water flowing, you continue up to the point at which the trail intersects the Mumm Basin route. Take the Mumm Basin Route, which is a steep trail that leads to breathtaking views of the alpine lakes, mountains and glaciers. The trail leads back around to the Berg Lake campsite.
Day 4: Hike out to Kinney and stop by the hidden lake at the bottom of Mist Glacier that you pass by across from the Marmot Campground.
Day 5: Kinney – Out.
There are seven campgrounds along the trail. Each campground has a cluster of tent pads; each tent pad will hold a single tent up to 10’ x 10’ and 1 to 6 people (all ages) per pad. The seven campgrounds along the trail are (in order):
Watch a video from our adventure here! Video is done by Joel Schat
Book your reservation on the Berg Lake Trail at www.discovercamping.ca