Hiking events

World-famous hiking trail in British Columbia closed for another season after flooding destroyed bridges

One of British Columbia’s most popular backcountry hiking trails will be closed for the entire season this year after being badly damaged by flooding last summer.

BC Parks said the Berg Lake Trail, which takes hikers through nearly two dozen kilometers of Mount Robson Provincial Park in northern British Columbia, is still not safe to use despite months of efforts to fix it.

“Several bridges are missing, much of the trail is not accessible to the public, and the Robson River could change course again like it did last summer,” read a notice posted online.

“The entire trail will be closed throughout 2022 to conduct additional assessments, monitor the river and begin repairs.”

Last year, the trail was only open for a few weeks before rapidly melting snow and ice caused flooding during the province’s record heat wave in June. Dozens of hikers were evacuated from the park over the Canada Day long weekend due to extremely high water levels.

The trail is extremely popular: once reservations open in early March, places typically sell out for the entire summer within hours. BC Parks itself said the road offered “the best scenery in the province”.

Environment Minister George Heyman said the ongoing closure is “unfortunate” but necessary for safety. He said the province hopes to start reopening parts of the trail for the 2023 season — but it will take time.

“It will not open suddenly. We will focus on the most accessible areas in the short term… then the following year [2024]we will open more, Heyman told CBC News on Friday.

Heyman did not provide details, but said the park was being repaired with climate resilience in mind.

“We want to fight climate change, but we also know it’s here with us today and it’s not going away tomorrow and we need to make sure we don’t do things the way we did years ago. 10 or 20 years, even two years ago,” he said. “We have to do things with an eye to the future or we do them again and again and again.”

A number of other parks and trails across the province were also affected by historic flooding in southern British Columbia last November.

According to BC Parks, Davis Lake, Sasquatch, Pinecone Burke and Smuggler Cove provincial parks all suffered “serious damage” which is still being assessed. Operations manager Stu Burgess said water damage in Golden Ears Park from November flooding has been largely repaired, although there is still work to be done to clear the trails.

Louise Pedersen, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, said she would like to see more resources allocated to BC Parks and other recreation agencies to enable them to be prepared for the consequences of change. climate as extreme events such as floods and wildfires become more frequent.

“They don’t have the resources right now to repair and maintain what’s been lost and damaged over the past year,” she said.