Mt Robson: How We Hiked Canada’s Most Beautiful Trail

Mount Robson Park is a popular spot for multi-day hikes, and the Berg Lake Trail (on its grounds) is considered one of the most beautiful in Canada. Waterfalls, valleys, rivers, suspension bridges, lakes, glaciers and fantastic panoramas are what people from all over the country and all over the world come here for…

Mount Robson Park is located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, near Jasper. It’s the second oldest park in British Columbia and one of Unesco World Heritage Sites. Mount Robson, after which it is named, is the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies (3954m).

The trail is closed for the 2022 season because of last year’s flooding (several bridges were destroyed). For more information, visit the BC Parks website

My husband and I visited Mount Robson one day in September. It was a real adventure and so far our best hike ever! That’s why in the introduction I’m trying to persuade you to rush there as soon as possible.

Read more if you’d like to know how it all went, what we saw and why we were so excited.

Map

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 41.5 kilometers
  • Elevation gain: 1500 meters
  • Time: 2+ days
  • Season: June-September
  • When we went: September 9
  • From Vancouver: 8 hours by car

Download a detailed trail map here

Kinney Lake

We were just finishing up our trip on the Gold Rush Trail of British Columbia. Leaving behind cowboys and gold, we decided to head for the Rocky Mountains and check out Mount Robson Park on the way. Our friends have advised us to hike Berg Lake Trail for a long time telling us about the 40 kilometers of unprecedented beauty. Usually it is done in two days with an overnight stay, but the campsites were all booked out by then. The plan was to run there and back again in one day.

The route from our hotel in Prince George to the start of the trail was about 280 km. To get everything done in time, we set the alarm for 4 a.m. and overslept!

We opened our eyes in the morning , jumped in the car, whizzed down the highway, and at 10 a.m. we pulled into the parking lot of one of Canada’s most beautiful hikes, Mt Robson Emperor falls & Berg lake. Many hikers don’t even go out that late on easy trails, and here it’s almost a marathon, with a lot of elevation gain. “Let’s go and see where it gets us!” We took some food and water and walked briskly down the trail.


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Mount Robson, Canada

For four kilometers we wandered through the woods, along the Robson River. Bridges, bushes – nothing seemed really special. Until Kinney Lake appeared among the branches. We stopped here simply because we couldn’t take our eyes off the lake.

It was so blue, so perfectly smooth! Like a mirror, it reflected trees, clouds, sharp rocks, and the smallest details of its surroundings. If you would watch it long enough, you could actually lose the sense of gravity!

Along the shore there are tables and benches for picnics. We didn’t have much time or anything to eat, so we just exhaled and ran on.

Mount Robson Park, kinney lake
Berg lake trail, BC, Canada
Berg lake trail, Mt Robson, Canada
Mount Robson Park, Kinney Lake

And then we ran – literally. The first 7 kilometers of the trail are so easy and flat that many people just cycle through them. After the campsite, at the northeast end of Kinney Lake, there is a dedicated parking lot in the woods. From here on it’s only on foot.

Berg lake trail, BC, Canada
no bike sign

Valley of a Thousand Falls

The views got better and better. We walked through a wide valley with turquoise streams, crossed two suspension bridges, and gained some altitude. At the second campsite (White Horn), we waved to the family with the babies and continued our journey.

Mount Robson Park, Canada
Berg lake trail, BC, Canada
Suspension bridge
Mount Robson Park
Mount Robson Park, Canada

It is impossible not to recognize the Valley of a Thousand Falls! The water was rumbling somewhere nearby, and on the opposite side, waterfalls were flowing down from the mountains in straight rows. At some point I tried to count their number, but I lost count immediately. The most difficult part of the journey began, and now we had to climb up.

The Valley of a Thousand Falls
Berg Lake Trail, BC
Trail

We walked around White Falls and Falls of the Pool. Finally, upon reaching the observation deck we saw Emperor Falls. There is a branch of the main trail leading to them, which we decided to save for the return trip. We climbed higher and higher, sometimes stopping to catch our breath and resting in the shade.

Mount Robson Park, White Falls
Mount Robson Park, Falls of the Pool
Emperor Falls
Berg lake trail, BC, Canada

Lake Berg and the glaciers

Near Emperor Falls, at a campground overlooking the river and Mount Robeson, we took a break.

At this point, we were already clearly aware that “going and seeing where it gets us” didn’t work. This hike turned out to be too beautiful to turn back. According to our estimate we still had time to reach the Berg Glacier and get back to the car before sunset. We finished our snack bars and hit the road.

Mount Robson, Canada
Berg Trail

In my opinion the next section was the most beautiful. We hiked through the rocks by the mountain, jumped over streams, and roasted in the sun in the valley. In spring it is flooded by meltwater from the mountains. The trail was flat again, easy and inviting.

Ahead, the white peaks of the Mist and Berg glaciers shone like beacons. Almost there!

Mount Robson Park, Berg Lake Trail
Mount Robson Park, Berg Lake Trail
Mount Robson Park, Berg Lake Trail
Mount Robson Park, Berg Lake Trail

It took us about 5.5 hours to get to Berg Lake with stops. We didn’t plan to walk past the shoreline campsite (Marmot). It happened to be a great place for a celebratory break.

Life was springing in the campsite, people were cooking and pitching their tents. Marmot is chosen by many to spend the night and then continue on the trail further into the mountains the next day or head back. The ground squirrels here are especially fat and bold, grabbing food right out of one’s hands.

Two girls were swimming in the lake. The water was icy thanks to ther glacier nearby. I checked it just in case – my hand turned blue in the matter of seconds. Not sure how Canadians do it. Magic!

We left the squirrels, hikers, and walruses behind and headed for the parking lot. 19 kilometers, 4 hours before dark. Easy!

Mount Robson Park, Berg Lake Trail
Berg Glacier
Mount Robson Park, Berg Lake Trail

Emperor Falls

On the way back, we turned off the familiar trail to Emperor Falls.

I didn’t expect that something could surprise us after such a route. But when I saw Emperor Falls up close, I became speechless. It’s hard to put into words the sensation of tons of water frantically plummeting from a height at arm’s length. There are no fences between you and the fall, no restrictions. A magnificent monster, a living power of the elements that I, a measely grain of sand, can get close to and even touch! No matter how many of such waterfalls my husband and I had seen in Iceland and Canada, we could never get that close to any of them. That was really something else!

I remember jumping for joy on the rocks like a madwoman until I was soaked to the skin… After a while, my husband Zhenya called me – we had to move on.

Emperor Falls, Mt Robson, BC
Emperor Falls, Mt Robson, BC

Thriller

Our mischief was almost managed, we were going exactly according to plan. Until Zhenya’s knee hurt badly. He limped manfully and pretended to be fine. But we’ve never picked up our pace, having to stop often. It got dark.

Leaving the last campsite, with its warm fires and the delicious smells of dinner, we moved on anxiously into the back woods.

stonesf

Four kilometers of darkness laid ahead and we only had one flashlight. Behind… It was better not to even look back there. I was pretty sure that a herd of cougars and bears were sneaking up behind us, and hungry wolves were lurking at our sides. We huddled close to each other as we were singing songs till getting hoarse.

Apparently our repertoire was too scarce for four kilometers… The highlight of the program, of course, was “Katyusha”, one of the most famous Russian folk tunes. “Don’t worry, be happy” mingled with animated movies’ soundtracks and RHCP hits. That dramatic night the Canadian animals also got to know the music of the most beloved Russian artists – Victor Tsoi, Spleen, and, somewhat ironically, the bittersweet tune of “Sweetheart, Sunshine of the Forest”.

Can’t say I wasn’t terrified, I was. I prayed to all the gods and gave a solemn vow never to go late to a hike again in my life. By the way, I broke my promise after two months, but at least there were other people there, so it doesn’t actually count. In the end everything was okay. We ran to the car, went back to the hotel. The bears didn’t get their prey. Lucky us!

I beg you very much not to repeat our experience! If you get to go on that hike one day, get out as early as possible! Better yet, take your time and book a campsite. Life is precious and unpredictable.

The total time we spent (with stops) was 10.5 hours. I can’t call this hike “difficult”, more like just a long one. You can easily go with kids, but be sure to have an overnight stay!

route
berries

Useful Information

Take note!

  • Before you hike, check the weather, trail conditions, and the official website updates.
  • There is no cellular service in the park
  • The nearest hospital is in the village of McBride, 90 km
  • The best time for a hike is from July to early September
  • Be sure to wear hiking boots, trekking poles may also come in handy

How many days to reserve for this trip?

  • The optimal period is 2 days with overnight stay in the campsite
  • If you plan to go farther from Berg Lake or are traveling with kids, reserve 2+ days
  • If you want to make it in one day – take no children with you and go out early in the morning

Passes and camping

The trail is closed for the 2022 season because of last year’s flooding (several bridges were destroyed). For more information, visit the BC Parks website

  • From June 23, 2021, you must book a free day-use pass at BCparks at Mount Robson Park without camping. Up-to-date information can be found here
  • There are seven campsites along the trail with sites for tents (up to 6 people). Site size is 3×3 meters
  • Maximum group size for the Lake Berg trail is 12 people
  • Camping reservations are availabler on the discoverycamping website
  • All campsites on the Berg Lake Trail must be booked in advance, there is no first-come, first-served option
  • Cost of camping: $10/person (16+ years)/per night, $5/person (6-15 years)/per night. Additional reservation fee: $6 (+ tax) per site/per night, up to a maximum of $18 (+ tax). Another +$5 for phone reservations
  • Before you hike, be sure to register and obtain a camping permit at the Mount Robson Park Visitor Center (June 15 through September 29: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)
  • In winter, off-season, this trail does not require day passes and camping reservations
Berg Lake trail

Rules and advice

  • Dogs can only be taken on the trail for a day hike (not for camping)
  • Campfires are prohibited. In order to cook you should use camping burners
  • It is forbidden to pick mushrooms in the park and it is advised not to eat berries
  • It is recommended that water from rivers and other sources be boiled or filtered before drinking
  • Cycling is allowed for the first 7 km from the start of the trail to the north end of Kinney Lake (there is also a parking lot)
  • Hammocks should not be used because they can damage trees

Day trails from Lake Berg

Mount Robson

What to Bring to Mount Robson Park?

  • Spray or other protection against bear
  • Trekking poles
  • Flashlight with spare batteries/bulb
  • Camping burner + utensils
  • Signaling device (whistle)
  • Food and water
  • Extra clothing (warm)
  • Raincoat
  • Repellent
  • Navigation and communication aids (maps, compass, GPS-receiver, satellite phone)
  • First aid kit
  • Hygiene products
  • Tent, sleeping bag, mat
  • Pocket knife
  • Power bank
  • Food bag
  • Sun protection (cream, hat, etc.)
Mt Robson

Have a safe adventure!

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