Get to Mount Robson Provincial Park
Mount Robson, © Pixabay / KeithJJ
The only way to get to Mount Robson Provincial Park is by vehicle. The park is about one hour west of Jasper and 5 hours from the nearest major airport in Edmonton. Few Canadian Rocky Mountain tours make a stop here. So, it’s best to plan to get to Mount Robson Provincial Park on your own.
Many people come here just to see Mount Robson, the highest peak in British Columbia. The views are very impressive because Mount Robson looms 10,000 feet over the valley floor. In comparison, the peaks around Banff are about 5,000 feet above the valley. So, Mount Robson looks gigantic when you see it in person. The area became a UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage Site in 1990. The Yellowhead Highway passes directly along the southern face of the mountain. Vegetation here is more deciduous and lush than Jasper National Park, because moist air from the Pacific runs into the continental divide here.
Mountain River Lodge
Mountain River Lodge
For our visit to Mount Robson Provincial Park, we stayed at the Mountain River Lodge. It’s a few minutes by car south of the entrance to Mount Robson Provincial Park. The Mountain River Lodge is a Bed & Breakfast on Swiftcurrent Creek. The lodge has excellent views of Mount Robson from the living room, the dining room and the two north facing bedrooms on the top floor with private baths and balconies. At the back are two more units that don’t have the mountain view. The hospitality was excellent at the Mountain River Lodge and it was enjoyable to meet fellow travelers and share a meal. I spent most of the time in the living room waiting for Mount Robson to emerge from the clouds. I saw a lot of it, but never the whole mountain at one time.
Berg Lake Trail
Mount Robson & Berg Glacier, © Can Stock / photocdn8
Hikers come to Mount Robson Provincial Park to hike the Berg Lake Trail.The Berg Lake Trail takes you to the shores of Berg Lake where you get great views of the Berg Glacier. We started up the Berg Lake Trail, but didn’t have enough time to reach Berg Glacier. The Berg Glacier is on the shaded north side of Mount Robson, which protects it from the heat of the sun. Berg Glacier is very large and it drops right in to Berg Lake. You might even see a few tiny ice bergs floating around the lake.
Berg Glacier, © Can Stock / photocdn8
On the way to Berg Lake, you can camp at Kinney Lake, Whitehorn and Emperor Falls. The first part of the trail to the Kinney Lake camp site doesn’t have much change in elevation. If you don’t have much time or a camping reservation, you can do a return trip to the beautiful blue waters of Kinney Lake in 2.5 hours. You won’t see the Berg Glacier at Kinney Lake Campsite though.
You must have a reservation to stay at any campsite on the Berg Lake Trail and these are typically only available on one day each year, usually in October. Check the Mount Robson Provincial Park web site for the process to book camp sites.
Most experienced hikers don’t camp at Kinney Lake, which has 14 tent pads, as it’s too close to the start of the Berg Lake Trail. They move on to Whitehorn, which is about 7 miles from the trailhead. The Whitehorn camp site has 22 tent pads. There is also an open sided shelter where you can have meals. The next day, hikers take on the steep section of the trail through the Valley of a Thousand Falls. The highlight in this section is Emperor Falls, but White Falls and Falls of the Pool are also impressive. After Emperor Falls the trail levels out until you reach Berg Lake.
Berg Lake has 3 campsites with views to Berg Glacier. First is Marmot with 7 tent pads and views to Mist Glacier as well as Berg Glacier. Next is the Berg Lake camp site with 26 tent pads and a large completely enclosed day shelter. In the flats just past the east end of the lake is Rearguard with 5 camping spots and a lean to shelter. A short distance past Rearguard you will find 15 more tent pads at Robson Pass.
Berg Lake Day Hikes
If you camp several days, you can enjoy some great day hikes. Head up above the tree line behind the campsites at Berg Lake. The views of the lake and the glaciers are fabulous when you make the extra effort to get up above the lake shore trail. Along the way you will get great views of Berg Lake, Mount Robson, Mist Glacier, Berg Glacier, Robson Glacier, Hargreaves Glacier and Toboggan Falls.
Another great day hike from your Berg Lake camp site is Snowbird Pass. This hike heads up the eastern lateral moraine of Robson Glacier. The trail has quite a steep short section with railings and chains plus a great view over Robson Glacier. Then the trail heads east through a high alpine meadow to reach Snowbird Pass, which has an amazing view down to the great flat expanse of Coleman Glacier. The Snowbird Pass route is subject to closures from May – July if caribou are calving. Snowbird Pass is a strenuous full day hike, rising 1,300 feet and covering 15 return miles.
If you hope to reach the Berg Lake Campsite and return the same day, you need to allow 12 hours. You will be covering a distance of 28 miles return and increasing in elevation by 2,600 feet. So, a day hike to see the Berg Glacier should only be undertaken by healthy, hardy hikers. Reserving a campsite is the best way to enjoy Berg Lake and Mount Robson Provincial Park.