Lower Bertha Falls

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

About Lower Bertha Falls


Hiking Distance: 5.4km round trip
Suggested Time: 2 hours

Date first visited: 2010-09-23
Date last visited: 2010-09-23

Waterfall Latitude: 49.03512
Waterfall Longitude: -113.92685

Lower Bertha Falls was the last Canadian waterfall that we saw during our September 2010 trip.

What Julie and I enjoyed most about this excursion were the views of Waterton Lake as well as the folded yet pointy mountains making up the landscape surrounding the 2.7km (each way) trail to the falls.

Lower_Bertha_Falls_069_09232010 - Lower Bertha Falls
Lower Bertha Falls

In fact, it was probably that Rocky Mountain feel of the trail that really made us sense that we really were hiking within the Crown of the Continent.

As for the Lower Bertha Falls itself, it was mainly an upside-down triangular fan-shaped waterfall before twisting and turning into a cascade further downstream.

The cascade passed beneath the footbridge that spanned the creek, but higher up the watercourse was the Upper Bertha Falls, which we could have extended this hike for.

While we were able see the Lower Bertha Falls from that bridge, we noticed a steep and slippery scrambling path yielding a more open (less obstructed view) of the falls, which you see pictured above.

The Lower Bertha Falls Trail Description

Lower_Bertha_Falls_011_09232010 - Looking towards Waterton Lake from the trail to the Lower Bertha Falls
Looking towards Waterton Lake from the trail to the Lower Bertha Falls

As for the hike, it started at the Lower Bertha Trailhead (see directions below).

Then, the trail went mostly uphill on a fairly gentle grade as it eventually yielded lakeside views after about 15-20 minutes or so on the trail.

During this stretch of the trail, it was muddy enough to reveal various tracks from hoofed organisms to even paw prints from grizzlies (which attested to the high amount of bear activity in September since it was berry season).

Indeed, we felt like we were in a place that was more wild and laid back than say the more famous parks at Banff and Jasper further north.

Lower_Bertha_Falls_031_09232010 - Julie hiking closer to the Lower Bertha Falls as the trail turned inland and revealed more of the attractive wrinkly mountains crowning the Waterton Lakes National Park
Julie hiking closer to the Lower Bertha Falls as the trail turned inland and revealed more of the attractive wrinkly mountains crowning the Waterton Lakes National Park

Throughout much of the stretch where the trail more or less paralleled above the western shore of Waterton Lake, it was very easy for me to get distracted with the vistas of the mountains rising high above the lake itself.

There was even a short spur trail leading to a lookout point towards the backside of the lake as well as the mouth of the lake in the direction of town.

Shortly after this spur somewhere past the one-hour point of the hike, the trail veered inland past a trail junction (where the path we didn’t take on the left continued along the lake).

Beyond the junction, the trail entered a canyon as it narrowed and provided vistas of the folded mountains ahead.

Lower_Bertha_Falls_052_09232010 - This was the view of Lower Bertha Falls from the footbridge over its creek
This was the view of Lower Bertha Falls from the footbridge over its creek

And after a few more minutes of hiking past more berries and a few small cascades, eventually we reached the footbridge from where we were able to see Lower Bertha Falls at about 2.7km from the trailhead.

The outfitter in Waterton where I bought bear spray from suggested that I should continue past the footbridge towards the Upper Bertha Falls and the lake nearby.

Unfortunately with a pregnant Julie being on the hike with me, the grizzly bear activity, and the lack of time we allowed ourselves for continuing on, we passed on that suggestion and turned back.

That said, I’m sure it would’ve been beautiful, it’ll have to be punted to next time.

Lower_Bertha_Falls_083_09232010 - The scenery from the Crown of the Continent as Julie and I were returning from Lower Bertha Falls
The scenery from the Crown of the Continent as Julie and I were returning from Lower Bertha Falls

To give you an idea of the time commitment for this excursion, we spent a little over 2 hours on this hike.

Authorities

Lower Bertha Falls resides in Waterton Lakes National Park near Waterton in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is administered by Parks Canada. For information or inquiries as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Lower_Bertha_Falls_001_09232010 - Sign at the Lower Bertha Trailhead
Lower_Bertha_Falls_002_09232010 - Julie starting on the hike to the Lower Bertha Falls as she was being a trooper for doing this moderate hike while pregnant
Lower_Bertha_Falls_004_09232010 - It didn't take long before the trail skirted Waterton Lake en route to Lower Bertha Falls
Lower_Bertha_Falls_007_09232010 - Julie continuing on the Lower Bertha Falls hike with attractive mountains up ahead
Lower_Bertha_Falls_016_09232010 - Looking further inland towards other beautiful mountains surrounding the Lower Bertha Falls Trail
Lower_Bertha_Falls_017_09232010 - Signs along the way assured us that we were going the right way to the Lower Bertha Falls
Lower_Bertha_Falls_018_09232010 - Contextual look of Julie on the trail en route to the Lower Bertha Falls as the mountain scenery was just sublime
Lower_Bertha_Falls_021_09232010 - Another contextual look at Julie on the Lower Bertha Falls Trail backed by gorgeous mountains acting as a gorgeous backdrop
Lower_Bertha_Falls_023_09232010 - Open look towards the attractive Waterton Lake while hiking along the trail to the Lower Bertha Falls
Lower_Bertha_Falls_025_09232010 - Another contextual look at Julie on the trail as Waterton Lake remained in sight the whole way
Lower_Bertha_Falls_028_09232010 - Julie passed by a resting bench, which showed us that this was a trail meant to be enjoyed by many people
Lower_Bertha_Falls_029_09232010 - Julie now on the part of the trail where it turned away from Waterton Lake and headed inland revealing more mountains ahead of us
Lower_Bertha_Falls_033_09232010 - Julie continuing on the scenic trail to Lower Bertha Falls with gorgeous mountains very similar to those seen at Glacier National Park (because Waterton Lakes National Park is essentially in the same ecosystem just governed by different countries)
Lower_Bertha_Falls_036_09232010 - We saw lots of these berries growing alongside the trail to Lower Bertha Falls, which was the very reason why grizzly bear activity seemed to be pretty high during our September 2010 visit to the Canadian Rockies
Lower_Bertha_Falls_038_09232010 - Julie approaching Bertha Creek as we were getting close to Lower Bertha Falls
Lower_Bertha_Falls_041_09232010 - These signs were near the Lower Bertha Falls.  I believe it was where a stock trail branched away from the main foot trail we were on
Lower_Bertha_Falls_103_09232010 - Grizzly bear paw print?
Lower_Bertha_Falls_043_09232010 - One of the smaller lower cascades en route to the Lower Bertha falls
Lower_Bertha_Falls_044_09232010 - More trail scenery as Julie approached the Lower Bertha Falls backed by sharp peaks in the background
Lower_Bertha_Falls_056_09232010 - Julie checking out the Lower Bertha Falls from the footbridge spanning Bertha Creek
Lower_Bertha_Falls_060_09232010 - After a short scramble upstream, I got this clean look at the Lower Bertha Falls
Lower_Bertha_Falls_064_09232010 - Checking out the Lower Bertha Falls in long exposure
Lower_Bertha_Falls_065_09232010 - Another long exposure photo of the Lower Bertha Falls
Lower_Bertha_Falls_075_09232010 - Looking at the scrambling path that I took to get the clean look of Lower Bertha Falls
Lower_Bertha_Falls_077_09232010 - Julie having had her fill of Lower Bertha Falls and now heading back towards the trailhead with scenic mountains ahead of her
Lower_Bertha_Falls_079_09232010 - Looking further downstream along Bertha Creek with hints of gorgeous mountains typical of the Crown of the Continent between both Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Parks
Lower_Bertha_Falls_085_09232010 - Julie getting to experience the beautiful scenery of the Waterton Lakes all over the again as we returned from Lower Bertha Falls
Lower_Bertha_Falls_097_09232010 - Almost back at the Lower Bertha Falls trailhead as we could see Waterton town up ahead
Lower_Bertha_Falls_102_09232010 - Looking towards the mouth of Waterton Lake as we were getting closer to the end of our hike to Lower Bertha Falls
Lower_Bertha_Falls_105_09232010 - These deer looked like they were eating away at someone's plants near the trailhead. It was as if they provided some form of gardening service for the homeowners
Lower_Bertha_Falls_107_09232010 - The deer chilling out in the town of Waterton didn't seem at all concerned with predators as if they knew they'd be protected from wolves and grizzly bears in the town

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The Lower Bertha Trailhead is a short distance before the picnic area on the shore of Waterton Lake and just after Cameron Falls.

For directions to Waterton town and Cameron Falls, see the Cameron Falls page.

As for the context, Waterton was 284km (3 hours drive) south of Calgary and 373km (4 hours drive) south of Banff. Across the US-Canada border, Waterton was 76km (over an hour drive) north of St Mary and 398km (over 4 hours drive) north of Helena.

Bottom up sweep of the falls as seen from the bridge


Fixated on the falls

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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