Berg Lake Trail Guide – Mount Robson Provincial Park

Berg Glacier
A sign near the Marmot Campground letting visitors know that they have arrived at Berg Lake and are looking at the famous Berg Glacier.

Our extensive stay in the Canadian Rockies saw Jennifer and me going on a lot of backcountry adventures. The Berg Lake Trail was by far our favorite backpacking adventure in the Canadian high country. We might even go so far as to say it is the best backpacking trip we have ever done which is saying a lot. We don’t write this lightly and it isn’t only our opinion. This trail has a lot of hype surrounding it. So much so that you have to reserve your campsites nearly a year in advance to secure a spot.

On all of our backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies, we would make friends around the campfire and ask the locals, “What is your favorite backpacking trip in the area?” Almost all of them said that it was Berg Lake. The only ones that didn’t hadn’t been lucky enough to secure a spot and venture onto the trail. Even a few adventurous souls told us that the 26-mile journey was their favorite day hike in the Canadian Rockies as they hadn’t been able to grab a campsite. All this hype left me wondering if it was all too good to be true and that we would ultimately be disappointed. Luckily that wasn’t the case and our journey on the Berg Lake Trail quickly became one of our favorite hikes in the Canadian Rockies.

Berg Lake Trail Stats

Berg Lake Trail Guide Map
  • Trailhead: Berg Lake
  • Location: Mount Robson Provincial Park (Pacific Standard Time)
  • Type: Out-and-Back
  • Distance: 26-miles (Total to Berg Lake Campground and back)
  • Trailhead Elevation: 2,736′
  • Highest Elevation: 5,481’
  • Total Elevation Gain: 4,025′
  • Time: 3 days, 2 nights (minimum); 5 days, 4 nights (recommended)
  • Hiking Season: Mid-June thru Early-October
    • Thick snowpack can linger on the pass, through mid-July.
    • The Snowbird Pass Trail is closed May 1st – July 1st.
  • Camping Permits: Required and they fill up fast in October of the previous year.
  • Day Hikes from Berg Lake Campground:
Berg Lake Elevation Gain
Berg Lake Trail elevation gain from the Trailhead to the Berg Lake Campground

Reservations for Backpacking Berg Lake

Ber Lake Quota Sign
Overnighting on the Berg Lake Trail is on a strict quota system. Do not attempt to camp inside the park without a reservation.

Many backpacking trails are about the destination or several destinations, but with the Berg Lake Trail, the journey is beautiful and worth every step. However, this trail is wildly popular and with only 98 campsites spread out across 7 campgrounds along the entire 14-mile trail (2 campgrounds are beyond the Berg Lake Campground) this can be a hard trip to plan and acquire a reservation for. Our recommendation is to start planning the summer before you wish to go so that you are ready on October 1st to go online and snag your reservations. After acquiring your spot start praying for amazing weather as you won’t be able to change your plans due to inclement weather.

Cancelations

If you miss the October window for reservations but have flexibility, call the Mount Robson visitor center throughout the summer asking about cancellations. People often cancel their trips in the weeks leading up to the date as understandably a lot of people’s plans change in 9 – 11 months.

Campgrounds/Distance

The Kinney Lake Shelter on the Berg Lake Trail
  • Kinney Lake Campground: 4.5-miles, 14 sites, shelter with picnic tables, communal bear boxes, pit toilets, greywater pit, easily accessed water from the lake.
  • Whitehorn Ranger Cabin: 7-miles, Emergency Radio located here.
  • Whitehorn Campground: 7-miles, 22 sites, shelter with picnic tables, communal bear boxes, pit toilets, greywater pit, easily accessed water from the creek.
  • Emperor Falls Campground: 10.25-miles, 9 sites, NO shelter, communal bear boxes, pit toilets, greywater pit, easily accessed water from the creek.
  • Marmot Campground: 11.75-miles, 7 sites, NO shelter, communal bear boxes, pit toilets, greywater pit, easily accessed water from the creek.
  • Berg Lake Campground: 13-miles, 26 sites, enclosed shelter with tables, communal bear boxes, pit toilets, greywater pit, easily accessed water from the creek.
  • Rearguard Campground: 13.5-miles, 5 sites, NO shelter, communal bear boxes, pit toilets, greywater pit, easily accessed water from the creek.
  • Berg Lake Ranger Cabin: 14-miles, Emergency Radio located here.
  • Robson Pass Campground:14.25-miles, 15 sites, NO shelter, communal bear boxes, pit toilets, greywater pit, easily accessed water from the creek.

When to Go

Hiker at Kinney Lake
Jennifer enjoys the rich turquoise waters of Kinney Lake on a beautifully colorful autumn day.
  • July 1st is the earliest we would plan on being on the trail because Snowbird Pass is off-limits for the caribou calving season until then.
  • Late July to late August is peak season. Most likely warm weather with clear trails but the mosquitos will be in full force.
  • Mid to late September is going to be beautiful with the aspens and lark trees changing color. This is when we decided to go but it can also be brutally cold and you should expect the likely possibility of getting snowed on.

You Must Check In

Milky Way over Mount Robson
The Milky Way Galaxy rises into view over Mount Robson and Berg Lake.

For most backcountry trails found in the Canadian Rockies, you need only carry your reservations with you while on your traverse. This is not the case for Berg Lake. You must check-in at the Berg Lake desk at the Mount Robson Provincial Park Visitor Center (PST) before setting off on the trail. They will require you to watch a very dated video about the trail where you will learn about the terrain, what to expect and how absurdly large boomboxes were in the mid-nineties. They will also issue you a laminated camping tag that has your campsites listed on it that you are required to attach to your tent. Do not set off on your Berg Lake journey with the notions that you can camp wherever you like. You must stay at an established campsite in the campground that you reserved.

When to Check In

Berg Lake Trail Guide
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The Mount Robson Visitor Center has set seasonal hours and they are on Pacific Time. We recommend arriving the day before your hike starts and checking in then so that you can set off first thing in the morning before the crowds arrive. The Robson River Meadows Campground is a massive campground with hot showers that can be reserved ahead of time. They also have first-come, first-served sites available as well.

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