Snowbird Pass Trail – Berg Lake Day Hike

Autumn-Color on Snowbird Pass Trail
The only thing that can make the Snowbird Pass Trail more beautiful is a little autumn color.

Snowbird Pass Trail in Canada’s Mount Robson Provincial Park is only accessible as a day hike from one of the backcountry campsites on the Berg Lake Trail. Given the distance and elevation gain acquired we recommend this as a hike from one of the campsites between the Marmot Campground and Robson Pass Campground. Check out our Berg Lake Trail Guide for more details on this amazing adventure.

Snowbird Pass Trail Stats:

Berg Lake Trail Guide Map
  • Trailhead: Berg Lake
  • Location: Mount Robson Provincial Park
  • Type: Out-and-Back
  • Distance: 14-miles (From Berg Lake Campground)
  • Total Elevation Gain: 2,300′ (From Berg Lake Campground)
  • Rating: Strenuous
  • Time: Full-Day
  • Best Time of Day: Morning

Unlike most trails that go over passes, the Snowbird Pass Trail isn’t intended as a thru-hike. The beauty of the pass itself is the destination. Some adventurous souls do hike beyond the pass but this requires crossing a massive glacial icefield and should only be attempted by those well prepared and experienced. We were short on time so we didn’t make it as far as the pass. This trail is gorgeous and should be attempted by those backpacking the Berg Lake Trail.

Hiking Report

Hiker at Berg Lake
Jennifer crosses over one of the small log bridges on the north side of Berg Lake.

To get to the Snowbird Pass Trail from the Berg Lake Campground, we crossed over Toboggan Falls Creek and then passed through the north side of the campground. Following the Robson Pass trial over a section of log bridges, we crossed a number of tributary creeks flowing into Berg Lake. At half a mile into our journey, we passed by the Rearguard Campground and then into a large meadow full of white poof balls. At 3/4 of a mile of very flat hiking, we arrived at the junction for Snowbird Pass and took the right towards the pass.

1911 Robson Glacier Sign

1911 Robson Glacier Sign
A sign indicating where the wall of the Robson Glacier was in 1911.

In the next 1.5-miles, the trail is relatively easy, only rising one hundred and fifty feet. Along the way, we passed by the 1911 sign that indicates where the edge of the massive Robson Glacier was in that year. The glacier recedes nearly 52’ a year so it is now much farther up the alpine valley. In this easy section of path, we also crossed through the glacial moraine as we skirted a glacial lake full of icebergs. This area seems to be very active, but given that the Robson Glacier is much larger than the Berg Glacier it isn’t that surprising.

Robson Glacier Overlook

Robson Glacier Overlook
The present-day overlook of the Robson Glacier before starting the steep ascent up Snowbird Pass.

At the 1.5-mile point, we arrived at the modern-day overlook spot for the edge of the Robson Glacier. It is still a substantial distance away from the blue ice. This point is also the endpoint of the Snowbird Pass Trail should you arrive between May 1st and July 1st, during the caribou calving season. We were here in September so we started the steep ascent ahead.

Climbing up the Snowbird Pass Trail

For the next two miles, we climbed higher to more and more picturesque angles of Mount Robson and the Robson Glacier. The path is difficult. The rocky terrain can be loose and would be difficult to follow but for the orange squares and cairns indicating the path ahead. There is even an especially steep cliff area where chains have been put in to ensure good handholds.

After gaining nearly 1,000’ of elevation the path crosses over a trickle of a waterfall (in September) and up onto a cliff edge which it traverses for a long distance. This was the end of our journey on the Snowbird Pass Trail. Had we planned for a full day, I would have loved to explore the trail to the top and overlook the Reef Icefield, but the Berg Lake area has much to explore and this was our only day to do it. 

Snowbird Pass Trail Marker
The Snowbird Trail can be difficult to follow at times. Keep an eye out for the orange trail markers.

4 Miles on the Snowbird Pass Trail

In all, we made it just over 4 miles along the Snowbird Pass Trail to an amazing view of Mount Robson and the Robson Glacier. We stopped just before reaching the alpine meadow that then leads to the pass beyond. While we missed out on seeing the other side of the pass and the massive Reef Icefield, there were stunning views of Mount Robson and the massive Robson Glacier. Guess we’ll just have to go back someday! Turing around we headed towards the campground for other adventures on our to-do list.

Robson Glacier
The massive Robson Glacier flows off Mount Robson and around Rearguard Mountain.

Robson Pass and Adolphus Lake

Robson Pass Marker
This small marker is not only a marker for the Robson Pass but it also indicates the dividing line between British Columbia and Alberta as well as the Continental Divide.

On the way back we took the cutoff trail towards Robson Pass and ventured into Jasper National Park and the province of Alberta. Just beyond the pass lies Adolphus Lake. It’s a gorgeous clear bluish-green body of water that, anywhere else, would be a coveted destination hike. But on the Berg Lake Trail, it is overshadowed by the beauty of the surrounding glacial terrain. We did find a few tadpoles in the lake which was pretty cool.

Snowbird Pass Trail Conclusion

Snowbird Pass Trail
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Hiking the entire Snowbird Pass Trail to the Reef Icefield is a full-day event. Many who venture to Berg Lake will likely not have the time or energy to complete it. But if you can plan ahead for it, this is one trail that should not be missed. The Robson Glacier is breathtaking and should be sought out when in the vicinity, even if you don’t make it to the top of Snowbird Pass.

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