By Laura Keil
The upper portion of the Berg Lake Trail will continue to be off-limits to hikers until 2025 while repairs are made after the devastating flood event of July 2021, but there is some good news on the horizon for hikers to Kinney Lake.
Peter Goetz of BC Parks says the lower portion of the Berg Lake Trail will be open to Kinney Lake throughout the winter and next summer, as they have nearly completed the new trailhead bridge near the parking lot.
He says they lifted up the bridge and widened the Robson River crossing so that it matches the original channel, then put that bridge back over the wider river.
He said removing the hourglass constraint at that spot in the river was one of the improvements they made with climate-change resilience in mind.
The campsites at Kinney Lake were also improved this summer, by relocating some tent sites further from the lake and restoring picnic tables and camping spots.
“We’d like to freeze up a little bit before we’re letting people up there; we haven’t actually decided on a date yet (to allow Kinney Lake trail access) for winter recreation,”
In the spring, there may be another closure as they pave the parking area, which was enlarged this summer, but not paved before cooler temperatures set in.
The entire Berg Lake trail was closed for the 2022 summer season so BC Parks could begin repairs and assess the trail due to concerns about the trail “being in a precarious state, and the likelihood of the Robson River changing course,” the BC Parks website said last spring.
Goetz said there was only one additional slide along the trail in 2022, north of the Marmot campground close to Berg Lake, in an alluvial area prone to shifting and sliding, though he notes it hasn’t slid in the 12 years he’s been in his position.
“We didn’t have any other signs of anything else moving. For the most part, the channel has stayed fairly static since the flood last year. The longer it stays in one place and more of a channel it will dig out. Now, I’m not saying it’s going to stay there but it’s good news for sure.”
He says there are three major bridges that needed replacement as well as several more minor foot crossings after the flash flood last year.
Between July 1st and 2nd 2021, high temperatures and excessive amounts of rain caused water levels to rise overnight, high enough to cover picnic tables, swallow trails and pummel bridges. The heavy rain caused a flash flood in the Emperor Falls drainage, causing slopes at the base of Emperor hill to collapse which sent a wall of debris hurtling towards the steel just north of the Whitehorn camping area. The bridge was pummeled by a wall of rock and debris 20 feet high, nearly burying one end. Luckily no one was injured.
250 hikers were on the Berg Lake trail at the time. Many were able to get themselves to safety while 27 individuals along the upper portion of the trail were evacuated by air.
The hope is to open the trail all the way to Whitehorn for the 2024 season, and from Whitehorn to Berg Lake for 2025.