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If you’re planning on doing the Berg Lake trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park and want to spend a bit more time exploring the area, save a day to take on the stunning Snowbird Pass trail! This day hike is a tough one but the views of Robson Glacier, Mount Robson and the Reef Icefield in Alberta are more than worth it. This hiking guide to the Snowbird Pass trail will help you prepare for what’s in store.
Snowbird Pass, Mount Robson Provincial Park
Snowbird Pass is an additional day hike you can do if you’re hiking the Berg Lake trail. It is best done from either the Marmot, Berg Lake, Rearguard or Robson Pass campgrounds. The beginning of the trail is well signposted as you hike through the flats from Berg Lake campground, but there are some trail finding difficulties as you begin the climb.
Know before you go
- Snowbird Pass is closed until July 1st every year.
- Always practice leave no trace ethics. Not sure what those are? Get a refresher here.
- The weather changes fast, make sure you pack layers and waterproofs.
- Carry bear spray with you on all BC hiking trails. Get more bear safety tips here!
- Wondering what to pack for day hikes? Here’s a hiking packing list!
- Refresh your memory about hiking safety with BC Adventure Smart.
- Don’t leave home without your 10 essentials. They could save your life!
Hiking the Snowbird Pass trail
After having hiked from Kinney Lake to Berg Lake campground the day before, we awoke hoping for some more clear skies to take on the Snowbird Pass trail. Unfortunately, we could hear some rain pitter-pattering on the tent but this cleared up as we were having breakfast and unpacking and repacking day bags to take with us on the hike to Snowbird Pass.
Relishing the weight (or lack of) on our backs, we began the hike. Leaving from the Berg Lake campground, it’s an easy hike towards Rearguard campground alongside Robson River and through the flats between mountains. Around 1.3km in, there’s a signpost marking the beginning of the Snowbird Pass trail where you’ll branch off to the righthand side and begin hiking towards Robson Glacier.
Again, the trail here is relatively flat which a little bit of incline beginning as you get closer to the lake at the foot of the glacier. Make sure you stick with the trails to the left. Taking those to the right will lead you down to the bottom of the glacier and result in a lot more additional elevation! There are a few orange markers and some flagging but they’re few and far between. Sticking to lefthand trails will keep you on route better than relying on the (sometimes misleading) markers.
Nearing the toe of the glacier is where the real climbing begins. There are several signs warning of steep and slippy terrain and there’s some exposure on this section of the trail. On one section, you’re required to forge your own path as a winter avalanche has resulted in tree debris masking the trail. We hiked this in early July 2020, so this may have been cleared by the time you hike. I write this to say that don’t worry thinking you’ve gone the wrong way if you reach tree debris. Continue straight over it and look. for the trail going upwards to your left.
There are a few waterfalls along the trail, with one particularly impressive one just as you reach the top of this first climb. For a good view of it, follow the path down to your right as you reach the end of a switchback.
This was perhaps my favourite part of the trail as it’s a nice recovery after all that incline! The meadows weren’t in full bloom when we hiked, but we did get to see plenty of marmots and some mountain goats too! The landscape up here is entirely different from what you’ve just hiked: green and a lot less rock! You’ll follow a small stream as you hike up to the pass, heading East.
We stopped for lunch in the meadows and used the stream to fill up our water before taking on the final big hike!
Ass you cross the meadow you’ll begin to see your final destination: a little saddle between two peaks. The final push is hard as chances are you’ll be pretty knackered from the morning’s hiking as well as the previous day on the Berg Lake trail. But, by this point, you’ve done most of it!
On this section of the Snowbird Pass trail, we came across several patches of snow that were easy enough to walk on with just hiking points. However, we did have our Yaktrax packed just in case and I’d recommend you do the same. The meadow gives way to scree again as you navigate the switchbacks up to the pass. The very last part was still entirely covered in snow and the bad weather began to roll in. We managed to get a glance at Reef Icefield below before retreating back down the hill in the midst of a (thankfully) shortlived snowstorm.
The hike back is, in some ways, harder than the hike up and trekking poles would be useful to steady yourself on the steep terrain with tired legs. Nevertheless, the views on the way back will keep you going!
Snowbird Pass trail stats
Here are the basic stats of the Snowbird Pass trail at Berg Lake. Distance and elevation will vary slightly depending on which campground you start from.
What to pack for Snowbird Pass
Make sure you look at these packing lists for the Snowbird Pass trail.