Bertha Lake and Falls

Waterton Lakes
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Bertha Lake and Falls

Distance: 11.2km
Elevation: 471m
Time: 3.5-5h

Difficulty Rating:

This Waterton classic hike has waterfalls, sweeping vistas, and an alpine lake, making the trail to Bertha Lake a stunning hike. The benches and minimal elevation gain to Lower Bertha Falls make the first half of the hike an excellent family option. The second half is where the elevation kicks in.

Getting there

The trailhead begins at the SW side of Waterton Townsite. Go south on Evergreen Ave. Less than 500m after Cameron Falls turn right into parking lot. A trail map marks the beginning of the hike.

About

When to do

July to September

Backcountry Campsites

At Bertha Lake

Toilets

At backcountry campground at lake

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Elevation


Detailed Description

Note that much of Waterton National Park was severely impacted by the 2017 Kenow Wildfire. To find out what trails are open, please check the Parks Canada website.

The trail begins in the trees and climbs gradually, with occasional glimpses back to Waterton Lake and the townsite. If you’re only going as far as Bertha Falls, the gentle grade and well-placed benches make it a great hike for people of all ages.

At the fork at 1.5km, bear left for a viewpoint. The sweeping vista includes Upper Waterton Lake and the surrounding peaks to the east, including Vimy Peak and Mount Boswell. To the south you can see the International Boundary Line with views into Waterton’s American counterpart, Glacier National Park in Montana. Back on the main trail, the path briefly dips and forks again. Stay right for Bertha Falls and Lake.

Bear grass is abundant in this area of the trail, but it dwindles once you reach Lower Bertha Falls at 2.8km. This is a beautiful place to stop for a snack on one of the benches as you enjoy the tumbling water running over the argillite rock bed.

To continue to Bertha Lake, cross the wooden bridge over Bertha Creek. The trail quickly becomes more challenging, and the grade will stay steep for the next 2.3km. Switchbacks help the ascent, but benches no longer appear, making the section from Bertha Falls to Bertha Lake more challenging than the jaunt to the falls. However, the breaks in the trees with views of the surrounding area continue to tease and propel you forward with promises of what’s to come.

You begin to hear rushing water at 4.4km as you get your first glimpse of Upper Bertha Falls. This portion of the falls is especially impressive early in the season when the volume of water is high. Just a few hundred meters further, views of Upper and Middle Waterton Lakes appear. After 300m, the trail levels as it approaches Bertha Lake.

You’ll reach a fork in the trail at 5.4km; straight ahead will take you to an overlook of Bertha Lake, while the right fork drops down to the lake.

At the lakeshore, you’ll have a beautiful view of the surrounding peaks. Mount Richards sits to the left. Mount Alderson frames the back of the lake. Bertha Peak dominates your view, as you look right.

You can now choose to go left or right. A short distance to the left will take you to a red-gravel beach, an inviting spot to enjoy your lunch. Continue along to do a complete 4.0km loop of the Lake. Or, go right, stepping over a wood bridge to find a backcountry campground with tent sites and a pit toilet (take your own toilet paper). A little further down the trail you’ll find a picnic and cooking area along the lakeshore. Return to the trailhead the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • Accessibility, good views, and a moderate difficulty means this is a busy trail. To avoid crowds, hike the trail early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

  • Bertha Falls is one of the earliest snow-free trails in the park, making it a good shoulder season destination.

  • Horse access is restricted in July and August; in all the other months, be prepared to step around horse droppings on the trail.

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