Lower Bertha Falls is an easy hike that is a great introduction to the spectacular scenery in Waterton Lakes National Park. We were staying in the campground in the Waterton Park townsite, so we didn’t even need to drive anywhere, the trailhead is at the edge of the town. Bertha Falls itself is a beautiful horsetail fan-type waterfall that twists and continues to cascade over interesting upturned rock formations. If you have extra energy, you can continue on to Upper Bertha falls and the fabulous Bertha Lake higher up the trail.
Lower Bertha Falls Map
Lower Bertha Falls – the basics
Elevation gain: 200m
High Points: 1465m at the falls
Time: 2 hours
What to bring: The 10 essentials, and bring bear spray
Facilities: Campground and facilities at the trailhead.
Dogs: Dogs are allowed (on leash)
How hard is it? Easy. This is a great hike for beginners. It’s easy to follow and not too long.
Lower Bertha Falls – Getting started
The trailhead to Lower Bertha Falls and Bertha Lake is very easy to find on the edge of the townsite campground to the south of Waterton Park. The trail starts with a few switchbacks, then in no time at all you can look back towards the town with the Bear’s hump and Mount Crandell towering above it.
Wildlife in Waterton Lakes
There is plenty of wildlife to see in Waterton Lakes National Park! Just a few minutes into our hike we met up with bambi and his mum. They were really sweet and bambi was super curious so we waited and watched while they slowly munched on flowers and took their time wandering up the slope.
There is a viewpoint (with a bench) just over a kilometer into the hike. You’ll be treated to fabulous views south to Glacier National Park in the United States.
Quite soon after the viewpoint, take the first turning on the right. The trail heads into the valley between Bertha Peak and Mount Richards (the pointy peak in my photo below is one shoulder of this mountain.) If you continue forward (south) you’ll reach the American border and Glacier National Park.
Rising from the Ashes
Waterton Lakes National Park was severely affected by the Kenow Wildfire in 2017. The fire burned 35,000 hectares, including over 19,000 within Waterton Lakes National Park. The skeleton-like white trees left by the fire cover the surrounding mountains.
However, don’t let this put you off visiting the area. Despite the burned trees, this landscape is full of life. Thousands of wildflowers and shrubs have taken over the mountain slopes.
Betha Creek Cascades
A few minutes before you reach Lower Bertha Falls there is a bonus waterfall. It’s quite a good spot to stop and rest (although if you keep going, the main waterfall is even better!)
Lower Bertha Falls
There is a pretty bridge over Bertha Creek with a fantastic views of the waterfall. But you’ll find the very best view if you shimmy along the rocks to get closer.
Bertha Falls gushes over a rocky outcrop that is part of the Altyn formation. At the bottom of the main falls, water is eroding between two upturned edges of rocks, into a natural gutter that channels the water into a right-angle-turn in the stream.
Continue on to Upper Bertha Falls?
If you keep walking beyond Lower Bertha Falls, you can climb up an extra 300m to Upper Bertha Falls. This waterfall is amaaaazing, cascading 75m down the cliffs. You will catch glimpses of it through the trees.
Just slightly higher than Upper Bertha Falls is the beautiful Berta Lake. If you have time, I highly recommend continuing your hike to there.
Bertha Falls was the first hike we did in Waterton Lakes National Park. It may have been a bit of a gloomy day, but it was an incredible area (and a relatively easy hike.) If you fancy meeting some wildlife, taking a look at the impressive vistas in Glacier National Park and getting up close to a waterfall and interesting geology, this is a great option!