On the Saturday, after our Shoreline Cruise, myself, along with Jo, Ashley and Kris, hiked to Bertha Falls, and then on to Bertha Lake. The entire hike is approximately a 10.4 km return hike with a total of 500m elevation gain, and should take the average hiker around 4-5 hours depending on how often you stop to take photos, of course! It took our group just under 4 hours.
The trail head for Bertha Lake is a short walking distance from the town, on the southwest edge, or you can drive and park at the entrance. The hike immediately sets off into the trees and the incline is steady. Views of Waterton from the trail are few (there are lookout points though), but the surrounding nature and foliage make up for it, especially in the fall. As you continue to climb Bertha Mountain, you will come to Bertha Falls which is breathtaking, and I can't imagine anyone not wanting to stop for a photo opportunity. For a beginner hiker, or someone looking for a short hike, Bertha Falls would be a good place to turn back around at. Otherwise, the hike continues across the wooden bridge at the falls.
From here, the hike became more challenging for me as the steady elevation gain had my legs and lungs working hard! I like to think I'm in decent shape, but I always find hiking very humbling.
For the most part, we had the trails to ourselves, passing just a few groups of hikers on their descent. We experienced all types of weather on the hike - from feeling chilly, to being too warm, to rain, and even a bit of hail. Hiking in Alberta in the fall requires many layers as we all found ourselves undressing and then redressing depending on the weather at any given moment. I wore my hiking boots for this hike, but it could be done in just running shoes if hiking boots or trail shoes aren't available to you. But I would recommend a shoe with grip as the incline and declines are steep so you will be happy for the extra grip!
After countless switchbacks up the mountain, we finally found ourselves at Lake Bertha after approximately two hours of hiking. I always find a lake at the top of a mountain so magical. Lake Bertha is incredibly beautiful and serene and you can't help but feel like time is standing still when you get there. Often, when you think about hiking, you think of the view you will be rewarded with, but in some ways, I find a lake much more breathtaking. Instead of a valley view, you are greeted with a calm, and majestic body of water nestled in the mountains and surrounded by trees. It leaves you a little speechless. I'm sure in the summer months some brave souls take an ice-cold plunge!
Once you've reached Bertha Lake, you have the option of hiking around it for another 4km. We opted out of that, but did explore the trail just a bit farther to where there is a campsite. I have no experience with back-country camping, but I must admit, I would consider camping there one day. There's also an outhouse near the campsite, although I can't comment on it's condition. Luckily, none of us needed to make use of it.
After reflecting on the beauty and stillness of our surroundings, Jo surprised us all by pulling out a bottle of red wine and suggested that a toast was necessary. How could we refuse! We gave cheers to not only our hike, but also to a wonderful weekend spent with some amazing women. Drinking a glass of wine, and warming our souls, all while surrounded by the beauty and sounds of nature, is a moment I won't soon forget. I highly recommend doing this the next time you you hike with a group of friends.
The hike down, which took us about an hour and a half was still somewhat challenging as the decline is steep and your knees and thighs really feel it. I will admit, my hips and legs were sore for a few days after this hike! Once we made it back down the mountain, we quickly zipped over to Cameron Falls which is just down the road from the Bertha Lake trail head. Cameron Falls is a very popular spot for tourists and a great photo opportunity!
Would I do this hike again? You bet! I cannot speak enough on how amazing, rejuvenating and magical this hike was. There were times when the girl talk was non-stop, and then other times where we hiked with just our thoughts and heaving breathing to keep us company. I felt so relaxed, mentally, after finishing this hike. Hiking is a powerful activity for me both emotionally and physically. There's something pretty awesome about clearing your head all while climbing a mountain. I will never underestimate the healing power of being in the mountains.
Want to read more about our blogger retreat in Waterton? Then be sure to check out the links from the other girls below!
**The #ABBloggersRetreat was funded and sponsored by Chinook Country Tourism in partnership with the Town of Waterton and Travel Alberta in exchange for posts sharing our stories. Accommodations, food, and activities were provided to the bloggers. A huge thank-you to Kris and Candace for organizing the trip! All opinions and writing are my own.