Let the mountains move you in Valemount, a quiet mountain town in British Columbia’s North Thompson Valley in the Thompson-Okanagan Region.
A Trek to Berg Lake
There is a reason that thousands of people travel from all over the world for a glimpse of this beautiful area. As a young child, I thought that aside from tropical beaches and the great plains of Africa, everyone lived in the mountains. I thought that everyone woke up to the crisp smell of fresh air in the morning- that all towns had multiple streams of cool clear water running through them. Despite this incorrect assumption that everyone actually lived in paradise, I could tell there was something truly special about the Berg Lake Trail.
The trail to Berg is 42 km return with several jaw-dropping campsites strategically placed in-between. This is a true backcountry experience with no road access beyond the trailhead. There are bear caches, outhouses (bring your own tp) and occasional shelters. Fires are not permitted, so be well prepared for any type of weather. When doing the overnight trek, most people opt to stay a night at Whitehorn located at the 11 kilometre mark, is roughly halfway to Berg. Another option a little further up, is the Emperor Falls campground which sits just past the famous wall of water named Emperor Falls.
Once at Berg Lake, there are several day hikes around the area: Toboggan Falls, Hargreaves Lake, and Snowbird Pass. These hikes range from a couple of kilometres to 20 km and the payout is huge. Hargreaves Lake offers a stunning view of Mount Robson and the glacier, Toboggan Falls displays rock carvings made from endless streams of water, and Snowbird Pass houses massive sheets of glacial ice as well as a beautiful rock staircase.
When Gaia was younger we experienced a truly unique adventure. We flew in with Robson Heli-Magic (flights are scheduled for Mondays and Fridays during the summer months, but operations were closed this season due to Covid-19) and were dropped off close to Robson Pass. At the 23 km mark, Robson Pass is the furthest campsite on the Berg Lake Trail. We spent the next three days exploring the area and slowly making our way down.
Most recently, Gaia and I hiked up to Berg with two of my friends and their kids. The five children ranged between 4 to 14 years guaranteeing there was never a dull moment. It was so sweet listening to the kids exclaim how beautiful the old cedar trees were or watching them revel at the brilliant blue water. When we finally reached the Berg Glacier after 2 days of hiking, there was a moment of silence in pure awe.
All day long the kids jumped from stone to stone, picking up sticks and rocks as their toy of choice. The weather flitted between ridiculously warm and quite chilly.
On our “rest day” we hiked part way into Snowbird Pass. We sat between a spring-fed lake and a glacial lake, listening to the thunderous sound of the glacier calving. The kids built cairns and bravely swam in the ice cold water. Aside from the occasional hiker who walked past, calling a gentle “hello,” it felt like we had the whole world to ourselves.
Evenings were spent drinking hot chocolate and playing cards. On our final evening we saw the resident porcupine which gave the kids quite the scare. He ended up being harmless, but when you’re stumbling through the dark with nothing but a headlamp to light your way, a rustling ball of quills can give you a start.
If overnight camping isn’t in your cards, there is the option of doing a day-hike. The picnic tables at Kinney Lake are a great place to enjoy a snack with a view. Day hike passes cannot be reserved in advance, and need to be booked online the day of travel. Bikes are allowed on the trail until the 7 km mark, and the path is wide enough for an off-road stroller until this point. This is a magical corner of the world that we would like to keep pristine. Please remember to practice “leave no trace.”
Overnight camping reservations open up in January 2021 and sell out fast, so make sure to grab a map, plan your route and reserve your spot for next summer! Check Discover Camping in January 2021 for an update on the trail reservation system.