After the devastating fire in Waterton National Park, there wasn’t much left to do. The first hike that opened was Bertha Falls. This hike runs about 3.2 miles (5.2 kilometers in Canada) roundtrip and ends at a beautiful waterfall. We decided to try the hike even though it runs through the scorched area west of town.
- Rating: Moderate
- Distance: 3.2 miles RT
- Elevation Gain: 575 feet
- Fees: Waterton National Park fee
- Tips: This hike is surrounded by scorched trees, so stay on the trail unless you want to be covered in black soot.
Bertha Falls trail runs south along the hillside through low, thick, green underbrush. As it rises, it comes to the area were the fire wreaked its havoc. There are still beautiful views of Waterton Lake to the left, but the trees are all burned. A few years down the road (from 2017) this area will likely be filled with wildflowers and new growth, but much of the topsoil has been damaged.
The trail climbs steadily as it follows the ridges above the lake. It eventually turns back to the west, where it enters the forest and green takes over the charcoal black pines. In a narrow gap, Bertha Falls comes into view.
This waterfall is very beautiful and can be viewed from a bridge that spans the creek. The water cascades diagonally down the cliffside and disappears under the bridge. You can even make a short climb to get a more direct view of the cascade. Just below the falls, there is a small area where you can put your feet into the runoff. Our boys had fun cooling off in the water even though the water was pretty cold.
If you find yourself in Waterton Lakes National Park, we recommend the Bertha Falls Hike. It is a bit of a climb, but the views and waterfall are worth it.
Everything is easy to find in Waterton because it is such a small town inside the National Park. This hike is located right to the west of the campground. There is a small parking area. The trailhead is located on Evergreen Avenue, just past Cameron Falls in Waterton National Park. It is well signed.
Tips for Families
- There isn’t much shade due to the burned trees. Bring hats and sunscreen.
- Bring a towel to dry your feet if you decide to wade in the water.