Waterton National Park
Time: 3 hours
Distance: 12 km (return)
Elevation Gain: 460 m
How To Get There: Trailhead is on Evergreen St. in Waterton townsite, about 500m past Cameron Falls, across from serviced camping area.
The weather wasn't really great as Matt and I took off from Okotoks on the Saturday morning. It rained almost the whole way there and then spit on and off once we reached Waterton. But we were determined to continue our tradition of going to Waterton every September. We walked around for a while, trying to find a good hike to try out. It wasn't long before we spotted the trail head for Bertha Lake. It was very crowded (which was surprising given the weather) and there were a lot of kids in the area, so we had to take it a bit slower than usual. Along the first part of the trail you go up a hill and it provides a great view of Upper Waterton Lake.
The trail then evens out for a while before finally reaching Lower Bertha Falls. You can get a pretty look at the falls because there is a bridge crossing not too far from it. We stopped for a short bit to take a few pictures but moved on quickly because the place was so crowded.
When we continued on, the trail started to turn into a series of steep switchbacks. The best part was that we finally had the trail to ourselves! The first part of the trail takes you through some large shrubbery which makes for very unique scenery.
It was a little spooky with how the mist surrounded the trail the entire way up but we still had a lot of fun. We pretended that we were on a haunted island…though from what I remember we also pretended there were velociraptors. No one ever said imagination has to make sense! After getting past the shrubbery, the switchbacks take you back into the forest. The trail itself is quite wide and well maintained.
Once we reached the end of the trail, you have to pick your way down a hill as the lake itself is situated in a sort of bowl.
When we finally reached the lake, we were a little disappointed to see that it was impossible to see as the fog was really thick in that area.
We explored the area a bit, crossing over a one log bridge (that crossed over the stream that connects Bertha Lake to Upper Bertha Falls) before finally settling down and eating some lunch.
On the way back, it was just as foggy but we were able to spot a waterfall off in the distance. Later on I discovered it was none other than Upper Bertha Falls.
This hike probably would have been a lot nicer if it hadn't been so foggy. Regardless, the weather definitely kept us from over-heating as we made our way up all of the switchbacks. It's mostly a gradual climb to Bertha Lake, but it's also a constant climb so it's not the easiest hike in the world. Still a great hike for the entire family, even if you only want to go as far as the Lower Bertha Falls! Maybe someday Matt and I will come back and this time, we'll actually be able to see the lake itself!