Mt Robson – Backcountry BC Parks

Mt Robson Provincial Park – one of those ones I had heard of but had not done much research on. Until, my friend Sabina mentioned she had gotten a reservation and would I like to join (heck yes) and like any last minute trip, it turned out to be one of the best of the summer.

Mt Robson Provincial Park is west of Jasper National Park and required a 4.5 hour drive for me to get there from Golden ,BC where I was living. The plan was to hike the well known Berg Lake trail right into the heart of the park and stay at a campground there for 2 nights.

I met Sabina and we checked in for our reservation, which included a mandatory and very entertaining safety video shot in the 1990s featuring a lot of purple and why you should leave your boom box at home. Laughs aside, it is always great to get some introductory information and wildlife education spread to backcountry users because it still surprises me some of the inappropriate behaviours you come across every now and then.

Bags were packed, and we started off on the nice wide trail to Kinney Lake, a popular day hike in the park and the first bit of the trail. The weather was fabulous during our three days in the backcountry, mostly blue sky with a bit of cloud coverage.

Mt Robson is well known for the fact that you may never see its peak – even on a bluebird day there is usually a cheeky bit of cloud covering the tip.

The first part of the trail passes through lush forest – unlike most of what I’d seen in the Rockies. Soon enough we reached the beautiful green of Kinney Lake and enjoyed some rest in the open sided shelter there.

The next section was across the river flats where we got some views of several waterfalls and knew we would soon start climbing to get some elevation under our belts.

After crossing a pretty sweet swingbridge and lunch at whitehorn campground we started going up up up those great Canadian switchbacks while getting some sweet views all around.

Soon enough we heard the boom of Emperor Falls and ducked a few hundred metres down the side track to view them. Huge! Litrally couldn’t get very close without getting soaked.

Was actually a bit chilly and refreshing after such a hot days hiking! After checking out the campsite there and a cheeky snickers break we booted our way the last 5kms and reach the stunning Berg Lake.

No icebergs at the time but the massive glacier coming off the side of Mt Robson was truly impressive. The trail wound it’s way around the side of the lake past another cute campground until we reached our spot for the night, Berg Lake campground.

Beautifully situated in the forest adjacent to Berg Lake, the campgrounds spreads out on both sides of the river, and is complete with a fully enclosed cooking shelter with a woodstove for winter and emergencies.

While washing dishes the amusing cloud which had covered Mt Robson’s peak shifted and I opened the shelter door and announced pretty loudly ‘you can see the top!’ Which amuses a few locals to see how pumped we were.

A pretty decent view!

One of the hikes we had been looking at was Snowbird Pass, an 18km there and back trail gaining 900m of elevation which explored further and the crux was bordering Jasper National Park. On the middle day we packed our day bags with all things delicious and warm clothes and off we went on what was the best day hike I have done this season.

The trail leaves from Berg lake campground and then forks to follow river flats leading to what we fondly called mini-berg lake, due to the fact there were heaps of amazing icebergs that had carved off the Robson glacier. Which , I might add, was incredible to look at as we headed closer and closer towards it.

It was cool getting a different view of Robson and the glaciers, and amazing by turning a corner got a whole new 360 vista of such a beautiful area.

The trail followed cairns up up up over some fairly exposed sections, one including some chain use, which we definately felt due to a pretty strong wind fighting us. Hiking higher, eventually we turned the corner away from the majestic Robson Glacier and found ourselves in lush green meadows.

So many marmots were bopping around on the trail and we finally got a good look at our destination – the pass.

We could also see that there was a couple of big snowpatches still lingering and there would be a final push to the pass , which no doubt would be rewarded.

Well friends, let me tell you. Over the last summer I did some phenomenal hiking in theRockies, and had already began this season with some spectacular hikes, but the view from Snowbird Pass blew me away.

I didn’t really know exactly what I was expecting, probably a nice view with mountains but in front of me was a huge sea of ice, spreading far and wide, and the vast mountain ranges of Jasper National Park. It was the Reef Icefield, and man, it was rad. What a hike! So many views!

As passes go though, it was extremely chilly so after our what the heck are we looking at moment we enjoyed the view and chilled for a while before booting down to a less freezing place to talk about how crazy the view was.

The return hike was just as great, saw some mum and baby mountain goats frolicking in the meadow, and were stoked to have constant views of mini icebergs the whole way back to camp.

After another relaxing night with so much food and a good sleep we got going at a reasonable time and enjoyed the 21km hike out .

Mt Robson and Berg lake is a pretty popular destination but it’s a big park and lots of room for people to spread out. Reservations are hard to get and it books out pretty quickly. But its popular for a reason.

The scenery is super spectacular and it’s a treat for those who make the effort to get back there. Also with so much opportunity for multiple day hikes from the Berg Lake area several days can be spent exploring. Toboggan Falls and Mumm Basin is another hike that we didn’t get to this time as there’s been a big rockslide earlier this season. There’s also opportunity to head over Robson Pass into Jasper National Park to Adolphus Lake area and beyond as well as loads of scrambling opportunities.

I’ll be back Robson!

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