Berg Lake is one of the world’s most beautiful lakes situated in Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. The trail takes you past Kinney Lake, Emperor Falls and is heavily trafficked with an elevation gain of 1509m. There are several campsites along the way to Berg Lake as well as 2 campsites at Berg Lake itself, however dogs are not allowed overnight at any campsite on the route. I have since found that you can hike yourself out of Mt Robson Park and into Jasper National Park and camp at Adolphus Lake with your dog but it would be a good 28km+ day with your pack and the lake is nothing special compared to Berg. Either option is NOT for the unexperienced and involve long distances with incline and you must be able to exit the park yourself with your dog without assistance. Both you AND your dog need to be conditioned to hiking exceptionally long distances, work as a team, and be on leash throughout. The trail is mostly narrow and graded as well as busy, mostly follows a clean water source, and would be extremely hard to get lost on.
My good friend Erica has always wanted to do this hike with her ridgeback Bodhi and I happily agreed to the 40+km day. We have been hiking together for a couple years and have a similar pace and goals (of taking photos, completing the hike, and dealing with dogs). The trail is long but not technically hard at all with only one section of major incline. We packed as light as possible, and with many water sources along the way were not concerned about carrying much water. We used harnesses on the dogs because even though they’re trained not to pull, it’s an extremely long day and it’s best to reduce the tension on their necks. Leashes were attached to our daypacks around our waist (except for photo breaks) so we were hands free for hiking poles (another helpful piece of gear!).
Getting the earliest start possible is key in order have some wiggle room should anything unforeseen happen so we hit the trail at sunrise and got to Kinney Lake easily and quickly (about 7km). You can also bike this section but you must lock up your bike at the campground and hike the rest of the trail (we didn’t have space in our car for two bikes and the speed difference for us wasn’t’ worth it). We spent at least an hour trying to find a place to take photos of the lake before moving on. There seemed to be tent pads set up at the south end of Kinney Lake but they were all flooded and not in use.
After Kinney Lake Campground at the North area of Kinney Lake, there’s an option on our map to take the Kinney Flats Trail or the Forest trail, although during our hike we found the Kinney Flat trail wasn’t an option as the water was too high and the area was flooded. After that there’s a couple small bridges and flat sections that connect to the large suspension bridge over Robson River. This suspension bridge was the only obstacle that could have derailed the day if Bodhi refused to cross. Whiskey pranced across before I could even take photo but Bodhi took quite a bit of convincing and cheering to cross. To safely cross we let the dogs off leash so that there was only one person or dog on the bridge at a time to reduce swaying and to reduce any tangles. For Bodhi I was on one side while Erica was on the other so we could cheer him on from either side (Whiskey had already crossed to show him). Bodhi crawled his was across to safety and had a little prance to celebrate!
After the bridge we passed Whitehorn Campground and continued onto White Falls. Stupidly we didn’t rewater before the incline (about 500m) and being a hot day, we both ran out of water pretty fast. We knew (and could see on our maps) that the waterfall was coming up quickly so we just kept going towards Emperor falls instead of heading back down to refill. Once we got to Emperor Falls, it provided the perfect air conditioning mist so all thoughts of needing water disappeared. We took photos for another 45mins before heading on to refill water at Emperor Falls Camp and onto our first glimpse of Berg Lake.
We approached Berg from the SW corner with gigantic glaciers framing the lake. At Marmot Campground, we debated if we should finish the hike a bit further on the NW side (Berg Lake Campground) or just call it done but we finally decided another 2kms (4 km total) wasn’t going to add much anyways so we went for it! I’m thankful we did because the beach at Berg Lake Campground was so much nicer and we threw off our shoes and took a little summer nap on the beach overlooking a turquoise lake with glaciers. We had a lovely section of the beach all to ourselves and the dogs promptly took a well deserved nap. I think we took a 1.5 hour break there with photos, food, and a dip.
Keeping a close eye on the time, it was soon getting late and we had to put our shoes back on and head back. This time we stopped only for bathroom breaks and water refills and a long break at the bridge convincing Bodhi to cross again. It’s amazing how much faster the way back can seem without photo breaks and inclines.
Something interesting on the return, we noticed that the trail didn’t look familiar on the section as we got back to Kinney Lake. It was dark at that point so we just assumed we had remembered wrong but we would find out later there had been an avalanche during the day which had erased part of the trail and flooded other sections. Since we had maps and knew where we were aiming, we didn’t have any navigational issues but were confused at the time about the status of the trail (some sections were fully flooded!). The last 7kms were the longest of the day as they normally are, but we were soon back to the car, feeling good, and ready to sleep and get ready for our next adventure!
With this distance being non-technical, I found both dogs were tired (Bodhi especially) but no one had any impact aches and pains. Erica had some worsening foot injuries from unrelated events but overall I really did find the 40km+ hike wasn’t anywhere near as hard on our bodies as some 10km days in serious backcountry mountains or a 25km day carrying weight. I’d love to be back in the future with Bourbon and maybe even with a pack on my back!