The Essential Guide To Backpacking Berg Lake Trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park

I first read about Berg Lake Trail when I was researching backpacking trips for my move to Canada. I scrolled through hundreds of pictures on Instagram and google to see what I could expect!

It was later recommended to me again by a couple of friends I made whilst hiking in the Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.

They spoke about it so enthusiastically, my legs didn’t even get a chance to rest properly before I packed my backpack again and drove from Canmore to Mount Robson Provincial Park to tackle the trail, but oh was it worth the effort!

A brief info about Berg Lake trail

A grass field covered in fog with a line of forest behind it, followed by a view of snow covered Mount Robson - the highest peak in the Rockies. The trees are changing colours to yellow as the autumn season approaches.
The view of Mount Robson near the visitor centre

Berg Lake trail is a moderate 42 km backpacking trip taking hikers through the diverse landscapes of Mount Robson Provincial Park in the British Columbia province in Canada.

The highlights include turquoise lakes, waterfalls, glaciers and the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies – Mount Robson. 

The trailhead for the Berg Lake Trail is just minutes away from the Mount Robson visitor centre and around an hour (ca 90km) drive west from Jasper on highway number 16, called the Yellowhead highway

The map of the Berg Lake trail

For showcase purposes only. This map should not be used for navigation

How many days are required to complete the Berg Lake trail?

An Aerial view of Mount Robson and Berg Lake. The sun is low in the sky casting beautiful light on the mountains. The lake has an intense turquoise colour. White wispy clouds are covering the blue sky.
Mount Robson and Berg lake from above

To fully appreciate the views along the Berg Lake trail and tackle some extensions, which I will get to later in the post, I would highly recommend booking 2 or 3 nights for the trip. However, if you are fit but short on time, spending one night on the trail is feasible too.

The trail follows the same path there and back. Whilst hiking it myself I have met some trail runners who were completing it in a day. Not something I would go for!

When is Berg Lake trail open?

A hiker in a red shirt and red trousers is sitting on a rock with a face directed at a view in front of him. In the distance is snow covered Mount Robson with two glaciers coming down into the turquoise Berg lake. Guide to the Berg Lake Trail
Admiring the views of Mount Robson

As with many other hikes in the Canadian Rockies, the trails become passable only from the end of June/early July and the winter often arrives in the Rockies as early as the end of September.

This leaves a 3-month window during the summer season when hikers can tackle the Berg Lake Trail. Considering its popularity, the reservations are pretty hard to secure.

I trekked the Berg lake trail in the second half of September and loved my experience. The autumn colours were in full swing and the light was perfect for photography.

If you do hike in September though make sure to pack accordingly, with a sleeping bag with at least -10 degrees comfort zone.

July and August are the busiest with plenty of day hikers and trail runners along the trail.

Reservations and permits for Berg Lake trail in 2022

Autumn scene of blue skies, white clouds and yellow larch trees reflecting in the still Kinney lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park in Canada.
Kinney lake during autumn

When I first hiked Berg Lake trail in September 2016, prior campsite bookings were not essential. I just rocked up at the visitor centre near the trailhead and paid for my camping permit on the spot.

Unfortunately, unless you are extremely lucky and a cancellation pops up in the system, showing up without a reservation would be unheard of today.

If you are planning to do the hike during the official season you need to book your spot as soon as the reservation system opens. 

Bookings for the 2022 summer season are yet to be announced. They normally open in October the year prior, but due to extensive damage caused by flooding the trail was closed in summer 2021 and may not reopen for the 2022 season.

Once the system opens the spots are usually gone within a few hours. The same goes for the other multi-day backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies.

TIP: Set up an account with BC Parks before the reservations opening dates and familiarise yourself with the system to speed up the booking process.

You can check the current fees and make reservations directly with BC Parks Discover Camping Website.

If you haven’t booked your spot, I recommend that you still check daily as cancellations do occur.

The cost of hiking Berg Lake trail

A raging waterfall flowing into the valley below, with pyramid shape peak of Mount Robson peaking right behind it. A hiker is standing in front of the waterfall, looking very small against it. A greyish sky makes the scene a little washed out and gloomy.
Jack in front of the Emperor Falls and Mount Robson

If you are making a reservation on the website the fees are $6.00 (plus tax) per campsite/tent pad, per night, to a maximum of $18.00 (plus tax). Additionally, you have to pay for a camping permit. Charges are as follows:

  • Backcountry Camping Fee: $10.00 per person/night (persons 16 years of age and older)
  • Backcountry Camping Fee: $5.00 per child/night (persons 6 – 15 years of age)

For example: if you are camping for 2 nights with a group of 3 people, require one tent pad your charges will comes as follows:

(3 people x $ 10 x 2 nights) + (2 nights x 1 tent pad x $6) = $60 + 12 = $72

Accepted payment types include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Visa Debit, and Mastercard Debit.

You can also use the call centre, but there is a $5 surcharge for transactions and from my experience, the call centres are always very difficult to reach.

The numbers for the reservation call centre:

Where to stay before or after completing the Berg Lake Trail

There are two front-country campgrounds very close to the visitor centre: Robson Meadows Campground and Robson River Campground.

If you would like to sleep in a normal bed the nearest hotels along the Yellowhead highway (no. 16) are Mount Robson Heritage Cabins, Mountain River Lodge and Mount Robson Lodge.

There are also several accommodation options in Tete Jaune Cache, Valemount and Jasper, the three nearest towns to the Berg lake trailhead.

Campsites and facilities along the Berg Lake trail

A photographer is bending down to check the scene through the camera viewfinder. The camera is set on a tripod. Behind the photographer is the view down into a valley surrounded by mountains. filled with trees and a river bed flowing from the Robson glacier into Berg lake. Whispy white clouds are covering blue skies.
Capturing the classic view of Mount Robson and Berg Lake

Unlike the Mount Assiniboine or Lake O’Hara hikes, there are no huts or backcountry lodges where you can sleep along the Berg Lake trail. Your only option is camping. 

If you are heading into Canadian Wilderness expect very limited facilities.The track is set up with multiple campsites that contain the usual: bear lockers, running water, grey water pits, outhouses and cooking areas. Don’t expect any luxury though.

CampsiteDistance from the trailheadNo. of tent padsCooking shelter
Kinney Lake7 km14Yes
Whitehorn11 km22Yes
Emperor Falls16 km9No
Marmot19 km7No
Berg Lake21 km26Yes
Rearguard22 km5No
Robson Pass23 km15No
campsites along the Berg Lake Trail

What campsites to book when hiking 2, 3 or 4 days?

2 days/1 night:

If you plan on spending just one night on the Berg Lake Trail, I recommend staying overnight at either the Marmot or Berg Lake campground.

Option 1: 1st night – Whitehorn campground, 2nd night – Berg Lake campground

Great for those who plan on starting late or simply want to take it easy on the first day.

Option 2: 1st night – Marmot campground, 2nd night – either Berg Lake, Rearguard or Robson Pass campground

Marmot was my favourite campground on the Berg lake trail due to the proximity of the Berg glacier and the very limited number of tent pads.

Option 3: 1st and 2nd night at either Berg Lake campground or Rearguard

The most convenient as you will only need to set up your tent once. Great for those who plan on doing extension hikes (see the extension hikes at the end of the post)

4 days/3 nights

If you have the luxury of spending 3 nights on the Berg Lake trail I do recommend to take it easy and booking the first night at the Emperor Falls campground or Marmot campground then the next 2 nights on the Berg lake campground or Rearguard.

Before you set off

Berg Lake Trail 2
Mount Robson and the meadows at sunrise. Scene captured next to the Mount Robson visitor centre

Check in at the Mount Robson visitor centre

On the day of your departure, you will need to register at the Mount Robson visitor centre. The opening hours are as follows:

  • June 15 – Sept 29: 8 am to 4 pm
  • Last check-in of the day begins at 3:30 pm

Upon registering, other hikers and I had to watch an old school video about the proper conduct on the trail. The video gives you some information about the park and how to be a responsible hiker. 

Take only photographs and leave only footprints, and don’t leave any trash behind!

It’s worth mentioning check-in at the visitor centre is mandatory and you are better off following the rules. You are heading into the backcountry! You don’t want to end up like the guy from “127 hours” now do you? 

Check the important trail notices

Berg Lake trail is subject to flooding, avalanches and wildlife encounters, all beyond human control. Make sure to visit the main page for Mount Robson provincial park and read any notices that could interfere with your trekking plans.

Parking at the trailhead

The hike starts a few hundred metres away from the visitor centre at the Mount Robson car park. The parking is free of charge.

If you are a traveller and don’t feel comfortable leaving your valuables in the car, you can rent a locker at the visitor centre for a few dollars/day and have peace of mind knowing your stuff is safe. 

Berg Lake trail: stages breakdown

Stage 1: Trailhead to Kinney Lake

From the trailhead, the wide well maintained path leads slightly uphill following the left-hand side of the Robson River.

After 7km of hiking through the beautiful forest, you’ll arrive at the first campsite on the shore of Kinney Lake.

Berg Lake Trail 8
Perfectly still Kinney lake

Although Kinney Lake is stunning I don’t think it’s far enough in to really maximize your experience.

Take a break at the lakeshore, have a snack and let’s keep going! You are only just getting started! 

Stage 2: Kinney Lake to Emperor Falls via Whitehorn campground

Leaving the lake behind you eventually head out onto the valley bottom. Hiking in between huge peaks on either side, it’s spectacular and you’re probably thinking “wow this is so easy, I should do more hikes like this”.

Don’t be fooled, the difficult part is coming up pretty quickly.

After passing the second campsite at Whitehorn you start to head up the mountain and into the Valley of a Thousand Falls. To put things in perspective, so far you gained 350m elevation in 11km. Easy peasy eh? You’re now about to gain over 500 m elevation in 5km.

Now, this sounds achievable to day hikers but just remember you’ll be wearing a big backpack. 

If you want to take it easy or if you plan on leaving the trailhead later in the day you can hike to Whitehorn campsite on the first day, stay the night and tackle the more challenging part early the next day when rested.

If however, you are relatively fit and plan on leaving early, you shouldn’t have any trouble continuing onwards.

Just remember your campsites are booked in advance, so if you haven’t planned to camp here beforehand, you have to keep going!

After a challenging 5k uphill battle take a well-deserved rest at the Emperor Falls Campground. Congratulate yourself as you’ve done the hard part. I hope you stopped at all the beautiful waterfalls, especially the very impressive Emperor Falls.

Stage 3: Emperor Falls to Marmot Campground

Berg Lake Trail 30 2
The stretch between Emperor Falls and Marmot campground

Once you go past the Emperor Falls campground the trail flattens out again. After another 3 km, you will find yourself at the shore of Berg Lake and will get the first glimpse of the beautiful reflection of the northeast facing side of Mount Robson and its glaciers.  

Stay the first night at the Marmot campground and find a spot on the lakeshore to capture the last light illuminating the top of Mount Robson.

Berg Lake Trail 9
The view of Mount Robson and Mist glacier from Marmot campground

At night you can hear colossal pieces of ice calving off the nearby glaciers, falling on the mountain slopes & into the lake.

The loud noise woke me up a few times at night, with my heart pounding and my mind half asleep, telling me it was a grizzly bear growling just outside of my tent. 

Stage 4: Marmot to Berg Lake Campground

Early the second day pack your backpack and head to the Berg Lake campsite which will be your base for exploring the area.  It’s only a further 2 km easy stroll through the forest, along the west side of Berg lake.

I highly recommend staying 2 nights at the Berg Lake Campsite to get a good taste of what the park has got to offer and to be able to explore beyond the trail. 

There are a few day hikes you can do from the Berg Lake campsite which offer spectacular views of the surrounding areas. 

Additional hiking routes near Berg Lake trail

From either the Marmot or Berg Lake Campsite there’s a myriad of hiking trails going further up into the mountains or out to the quickly retreating Robson Glacier.

My favourite side trip from here is the Toboggan Falls Route, which leads steeply up the falls and then swings right onto the Mumm Basin Route, from here you’ll have spectacular views of well, pretty much everything. Just look at the photos above.

Below information source: BC Parks

Hargreaves Lake Route (1/2 day)

From Marmot campsite near Berg Lake, this route climbs to Hargreaves Lake and Glacier. From this viewpoint, the trail continues and crosses the Toboggan Falls Route on course to the Mumm Basin.

Toboggan Falls (2 hours return)

From the trailhead at the Toboggan Creek bridge near Berg Lake campsite, the trail climbs to Toboggan Falls and the surrounding alpine basin. This route intersects the Hargreaves Lake and Mumm Basin routes.

Mumm Basin Route (1/2 day)

A steep alpine trail leads to views of the alpine lakes, mountains and glaciers. The trail can start or end in Robson Pass or Berg Lake campsites.

Snowbird Pass Route (1 day)

Snowbird Pass is closed in May and June due to caribou calving. A challenging route marked by rock cairns (caution required), it provides spectacular views of the back of Mount Robson. From Berg Lake campsite the trip is 22 km, return. Start north of Rearguard campsite, follow Robson River then travel up to Robson Glacier’s moraine. Hike up to an alpine meadow, beyond which is Snowbird Pass. 

Packing essentials for the Berg Lake Trail

Guide to Berg Lake Trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park in Canada

As you’ll be carrying enough on your back you’ll want to make sure that your belongings are as light, durable and practical as possible.

With camping gear, I believe that if “you buy cheap, you buy twice”. You’re always better off investing slightly more money in a better, long-lasting product, that will make your experience more enjoyable.

Over the years I’ve been through all different types of equipment but I can finally say that the gear I have now, is the best I’ve ever owned. 

Osprey Ariel AG 65 liters

When I first tried this backpack on I had no idea how its anti-gravity harness system will positively influence each backpacking experience, I’ve had since.  Men following my site you should check out the men’s version

Sea to Summit Comfort Light Sleeping Pad

Getting a good nights rest after hiking with a heavy load the whole day is essential. This sleeping pad will not only keep you insulated from the ground, but it will keep you comfy too. My advice is to go with the larger size!

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person tent

I’ve had this tent for years now and used it for 3 weeks in Iceland, where it was tested against some crazy winds, as well as for every single backpacking trip I did in the Rockies. So far I have no tears and all the poles are still intact.  Grab a tent footprint too, to prolong the life of your tent.

Black Diamond Carbon Trekking Poles

I recently left my pair in a parking lot after the hike and drove off.  When I noticed my mistake it was too late to go back. I couldn’t get over it for a whole week, I ordered a second pair without any hesitation. At 300 grams a pair their weight is hard to beat. 

MSR Pocket Rocket Camping Stove

This folding canister stove is my constant companion on any backpacking trip ensuring I have hot meals every evening of my trip. For its small size, it is incredibly efficient and it supports a wide range and size of camping pots. 

The Platypus GravityWorks 2.0 filter

Having the filter with me means I don’t have to carry a lot of water and can refill my water bladder on the go. It’s lightweight, filters thousands of litres of water and although the initial cost is higher than other options (e.g. tablets), the cost/litre is unbeatablein the long run. 

Hydrapak Shape-Shift Water Reservoir 3L

Staying hydrated is very important when hiking. It speeds up your recovery atop dozens of other reasons why drinking water is important. I prefer to have instant access to my water hence I always use a hydration bladder. After owning 3 different brands, this one is by far my favourite. 

LuminAid solar inflatable lantern

It is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. This tiny lantern is always attached to the outside of my backpack where it recharges during the day. The light it gives is enough to play games in the tent or cook in the evening. 

Frequently asked questions about the Berg Lake Trail

Berg Lake Trail 18 1

Are the reservations transferable?

No, if you hold a reservation and try to transfer or sell it if caught your reservation will be forfeited without a refund.

How many tents can a single tent pad hold?

You can set up one tent and have up to 6 people sleeping on one tent pad.

Can I change or cancel my reservation?

Yes, you can change your reservation online up to 48 hours before the start of your trip. It costs $6 /campsite/tent pad to make changes to your booking. If you are cancelling via call centre additional charges of $5 / campsite/tent pad apply.

Can I bring my dog with me to backpack Berg lake trail?

Unfortunately, it’s a no. Dogs are not allowed on overnight trips. You may only bring your dog if you are a day hiker using the trail. Leash laws apply at all times.

How many people can I have in my group?

You can have a maximum of 12 people in your group. It is encouraged that group reservations are done under one name to speed up the check-in process and avoid any delays at the start.

Can I use a mountain bike on Berg Lake trail?

Bikes are only allowed as far as the Kinney lake campground. After that, you have to leave your bike and continue on foot.

Can I drink water on the Berg Lake trail?

According to the BC Parks website, all surface water sources should be filtered, boiled or treated before use.

I hope this post will help you with planning your adventure on the Berg Lake Trail. Let me know in the comments below if you have more questions. I always answer personally.

Visit my Canadian Rockies guide for more trail guides, backpacking trips and road trip itineraries.

Marta
Marta

Hi! I am the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.com. I come from Poland, but I've been living, travelling and working around the globe since I turned 18. A few years ago, during one of my trips to Scotland, I bought my first DSLR and my adventure with photography began. When I am not stuck to my computer editing photos, you can find me hiking somewhere in the mountains.

13 Comments

  1. Hey Marta, me and my husband are loving your posts and finding them really helpful.
    What camp sites did you camp at? and what campsites did you camp at on your way back? Was it okay to park your car at the starting camp site?

    Thanks,
    Beej

    • Hi Bijal! Thanks for stopping by and your lovely comment. I really appreciate it. I stayed at the Marmot (1 night) and Berg Lake Campsite (2 nights). It’s quite the hike from the trailhead to the Marmot campsite so if you want to split it I do recommend staying one night at Whitehorn too. When hiking out I did it all in one day from Berg Lake campsite back to the trailhead. Again it’s a long day so it can be split and you could stay at the Kinney Lake campsite on the way back. Take as much time as possible because the area is just so beautiful it’s a shame to rush it. I had no problems leaving my car at the trailhead, but I did leave my valuables locked in a rented locker at the Mount Robson visitor centre . I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions!

  2. Hi Marta! Really love your posts! I’ve referred to this one countless times trying to plan my own trip here. I received an email from parks Canada saying that you can have 1-6 people per campsite (which I planned for) but that the pads can only fit a single tent up to 10’x10′. Since my friends and I mostly have 1-3 man tents, am wondering in your experience whether or not two 2P tents would be able to fit on one pad. My 3P tent is 5.5′ x 7′ + rain flap which is a bit tight so I’m just a bit concerned now. Thanks!

    • Hi Tangler! Thanks for your great feedback. I’d say 2 backpacking 2 person tents might fit (such as mine the hubba hubba from MSR) but definitely without using the guy lines and it would also be a v. tight squeeze. I would say go for 2 tent pads are one bigger tent that can fit all of you. You haven’t stated how many of you is going. Store as much of your gear as you can in bear locker so it doesn’t take too much space in your tent. Also don’t keep your backpacks in the tent and just keep them outside in a cooking shelter also to save space in the tent. I hope that helps!

  3. Hi Marta, my son and husband are avid backpackers and have been trying to get me on board the backpacking adventures. I have done a couple of trips with them but I’m definitely not near as hard core as they are. After reading your post about Berg Lake I feel that this is a good one for me, so I’d like to plan a trip for next summer. I’d like to do it for my son’s birthday at the end of July. What do you think about that time of the year for this hike? I see most people to about September. I rather do it when temperatures are warmer. Is there a drawback to do it this early in the season?
    Also, I see that reservations start October 1st, but it also says somewhere else that you can book as early as 4 months in advance. So for end of July reservations can be made no earlier than the end of March… do you know if this is correct? Thank you for the great info you provide. It has awaken my excitement about doing this trip.
    Btw, I like your name 😉

    • Hi Martha! thanks a lot for your lovely comment. This is a nice challenge for you and I am glad you are doing it for your son’s bday! You have plenty of time to get ready for it to build up strength and endurance. That way the hike will be a lot easier! I would also suggest that you break it up nicely and make sure not to overpack so you can enjoy the views without too much suffering 😉 End of July is a good time to go, the only downside to this time is the mosquitos. They can get really annoying around June and July, so bring a good mosquito repellent and wear mosquito proof clothing (leave your leggings at home). I personally did Berg Lake Trail in September and whilst I do love this time of the year the nights are definitely a lot colder in September meaning you would need a very good sleeping bag with below zero comfort grading. As for the reservations in changes every year so I would recommend you check directly with Parks Canada. They usually announce it before the reservations open. It also depends on the area. For example Lake O’hara used to be 3-4 months in advance whereas Berg Lake was October/November. Stay on top of it and make sure you familiarize yourself with the reservation system because it can be confusing and since the whole trails tends to book out really quickly you don’t want to miss out!

  4. Hey Marta,

    First and foremost, thank you for the amazing guide. Your Vancouver-Calgary road trip was really helpful in planning my trip through the Rockies last year.

    We did the Kinney lake hike last year, and that inspired me to come back and do the multi day hike this year.

    We’re going to do it in 3 days and 2 nights. I’ve booked the marmot campground for the first night, and plan to do some day hikes on day 2, and then head back down to Kinney lake for the 2nd night, and back to the trail head on day 3. I’m keeping a lookout for other campgrounds that open up, as I know Kinney lake is pretty far down.

    My question for you is, do we need to have our camping gear with us when doing the day hikes? After our first night at marmot, we would like to do a day hike, but I’m assuming we’d have to clear the site for the next campers. Is there any place to stow away gear and take only a day pack with us? Just trying to wrap my head around how that would work.

    Thanks,

    Bogdan

  5. Hello, Appreciate all the great information. Can you tell me about the helicopter ride to Berg Lake? Due to time restraints I would like to take the helicopter up to Berg Lake at their 8 am departure and then spend a few hours before hiking back down. How long would the hike out from Berg Lake take? Keep in mind that I would want to stop and view the several falls and other viewpoints along the way. Just want to know if this is feasible. (My second trip would definitely be 3 or 4 days.)
    Thanks,
    Bill

    • Hi Bill. Thanks for stopping by. Even if you are fast you still have to account for around 6 hours to get back to the parking lot. It’s a 21 km walk. Sure it’s mostly downhill and you will only have a daypack with you, but you will probably make it back when it’s dark. Not sure what you plan on seeing, whether your aim is just to see the Berg lake or the view from the Mumm Basin route. If it was up to me, I’d say focus on other more accessible areas instead of spending tons of money on heli flight that won’t give you much room to explore. I hope that helps!

      • A bit over 20 years ago, my spouse, daughter and I helicoptered into Robson Pass and hiked out that day. Yes, it was a long day, and we returned to the car at dusk, but it was well worth it to us, and the highlight of two weeks in the Canadian Rockies. The only caution I would mention is that the flights are weather dependent, and ours was delayed by about an hour waiting for fog in the valley to clear.

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