Lower Bertha Falls is an unusual waterfall — a twisted, tangled cascade sprawled across upturned rocks and hidden amongst a dense wall of greenery. This waterfall is accessible via a moderately challenging trail, but even in the summer you can find solitude on this route. More energetic hikers can continue past the falls to a backcountry campground at Bertha Lake or as a side trip on the Lakeshore Trail on a run for the American border, but this unique and lovely waterfall is a worthy destination in and of itself.
Head south on the well-worn trail from the trailhead off Evergreen Avenue, or access this route by following the Townsite Trail south along the shore of Upper Waterton Lake and crossing Cameron Creek. The trails meet in about 0.2 mile (0.3km), then the route begins a slow but steady climb above the looming blue of Upper Waterton Lake. Continue climbing south until 0.8 mile (1.3km). You’ll have climbed just under 300 feet (91m) and at this point the trail reaches a junction.
Look for a short footpath to a truly beautiful lookout point, where you’ll enjoy some stunning views looking south toward Upper Waterton Lake and the United States border. You can continue south from here, toward the campgrounds at Bertha and Boundary Bays and Goat Haunt, Montana and Glacier National Park — but for Lower Bertha Falls, you’ll want to keep to the right and head west following the signs for Bertha Lake.
The greenery on the trail opens up here, so although you’ll be surrounded by majestic pines and aspen (fall color here can be pretty outstanding), you’ll also have spectacular views of the nearby peaks, including the Mount Richards, Mount Alderson, and Bertha Peak. Bertha Lake lies in a narrow valley in the middle of these three peaks, and that’s where the trail is headed.
As the trail continues to climb, keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for Bertha Creek, which makes the occasional appearance just to the south of the path. Some small cascades and tumbles in the rock formations here are just warm-ups for the big show, though. At 1.6 miles (2.6km) a wooden footbridge crosses the creek. From here, you can spot a few short use-trails that will take you further up the creek’s path for some better views of the Lower Falls themselves. Mind your footing, as the rocks are slick and can be slippery if you’re not wearing grippy hiking shoes.
When you’re done, either continue on the path to Bertha Lake or return back the way you came in. The distance from the trailhead to Bertha Lake and back is approximately 6.5 miles.
Very good. The trails to Bertha Falls (and Bertha Lake) are well-maintained and well-signed single tracks.
The Townsite Campground in the town of Waterton Village is generally open from May to October. Online reservations are strongly encouraged. There is additional lodging available inside the town, as well. First-come, first-served backcountry camping is available at Bertha Bay and Bertha Lake.
From the western intersection of Provincial Routes 5 and 6, head west on Route 5 for 5.4 miles (8.6km). Continue straight onto Evergreen Avenue, bypassing the village of Waterton. At the intersection with Cameron Falls Drive, keep right. Cross Cameron Creek and look for a turnout to a trailhead on the west side of the road. Display your Park Pass. Note that Google Maps directs you past this turnoff. The trail can also be reached via an extensive network of pathways through Waterton Township.
With recent wildfire damage and ongoing waves of COVID-19 infections and restrictions, National Forest, National Park, and other public land closures, restrictions, or social distancing guidelines may be in-effect.
If infection rates are on the rise, please do your best to remain local for your hikes. If you do travel, please be mindful of small gateway communities and avoid as much interaction as you can. Also remember to be extra prepared with supplies so you don't have to stop somewhere outside your local community for gas, food, or anything else.
Please be sure to contact the local land management agency BEFORE you head out, as these conditions are likely to change without enough notice for us to fully stay on top of them. Thanks, and stay safe!
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