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Enjoy a Great Hike in Banff Johnston Canyon
Contents

Enjoy a Great Hike in Banff Johnston Canyon

TripBlog
Sep 27, 20192,3770

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the hustle of everyday life and wanted to get a breath of fresh air? Ever thought of getting lost in nature, walking through the lush green forest, feeling the tranquility, reconnecting with life? Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada provides you with this excellent opportunity to rediscover life.

Contents

The Carving Of Nature
The Lower and Upper Falls
1. Journey to Lower Canyon Falls
2. Walk to the Upper Falls
3. Hiking to Ink Pots
4. The Secret Cave
Hiking Tips
1. If You don't Like Water on Your Clothes, Grab a Raincoat.
2. Early to Hike and Early to Park Will Save You from the Crowd.
3. Wear Snowshoes for a Winter Hike
4. Slow and Steady
5. Dog Lovers, don’t Worry!
6. Amen for Good Amenities
7. Wheelchair Accessibility
Whatever be the Season, One Destination
The Way
Go and Enjoy

The Carving Of Nature

Standing 5400 feet tall, Johnston Canyon is a must-see natural wonder. The canyon is a work of art by the Bow River which has eroded the Johnston Creek. This erosion has resulted in the carving of limestone bedrock over thousands of years to build the canyon walls.

A short, nice and beautiful walk, climbing the canyon is the main activity at Johnston Canyon. On the way, the visitors are greeted by the beauty of two waterfalls- The Lower and Upper Falls. For those who seek more thrill and need something extraordinary, there exists a “hidden cave” near the Upper Falls of Johnston Canyon. Marked by two breathtaking waterfalls, pristine pools, trees that sway in the cold wind, semi-paved trails and catwalks, The Canyon is a memory for a lifetime. The footbridges attached to limestone cliffs in the canyon provide access to places that would have only been reserved for climbers. The well-maintained roads and infrastructure make the canyon comfortable for families and people of all fitness levels and ages. It is accessible to everyone all around the year.

Enjoy a Great Hike in Banff Johnston Canyon

The Lower and Upper Falls

1. Journey to Lower Canyon Falls

The hike up to the Johnston Canyon starts in the forest. The lower falls take a 1.1 km (20 minutes) to reach. The path leads you to the footbridges along Johnston Creek. Eventually, you reach the canyon near the rushing waters. The strong infrastructure suspending from the walls of the canyon allows you to get close to the stream. You will be thrilled when the cold water flows touching your feet. The first visible site is a really deep basin created by the diving waters as you reach the Lower Falls. You can a cute bridge across the creek. This serves as a viewpoint. As you follow the trail, you can see another platform. It is a few feet away from the falls. A tunnel is bored through the thick hard rocks of the canyon. It is through this tunnel you reach the platform. As you cross the tunnel, the falls will shower you with drops of water. Enjoy the cold shower!

After passing the Lower Falls, you continue along the main trail through a well-graded path. You will come across some spectacular scenery. These scenic views are a great place to take some selfies with your loved ones.

Enjoy a Great Hike in Banff Johnston Canyon

2. Walk to the Upper Falls

When you go from lower falls to upper falls, the beauty too rises linearly. The path climbs through forest and out of the lower canyon to the Upper Falls of Banff Johnston Canyon. There is another 1.4 km (45 minutes) and 150 m of elevation gain to the Upper Canyon Falls. The facilities remain top-notch. The path is perfectly paved with metal handles and railings. Stella Falls and Marguerite Falls present themselves as you continue your journey.

The journey to Upper Falls is similar to climbing a tall mountain. But the climb is so satisfying that several panoramic views, such as several small set of cascading waterfalls make it easy going. There are mainly two areas custom build for observation. The first is an observation deck looking down from the falls. You can go there through a walkway. People are sure to be blown away by the heavy mist from the roaring waterfalls. There is another observation area which can be reached by taking a steeper trail to a platform. It overlooks the gorge. You can see waterfalls that fall over 40 ms from the platform. It is a sight beyond words.

Even though the rocky slabs near the edge are fenced, people continue to take risks. Don’t do this! Accidents have taken the life of many victims over the years. So, be careful, stay safe, and enjoy the journey.

Enjoy a Great Hike in Banff Johnston Canyon

3. Hiking to Ink Pots

Store your energy for more adventure. The Ink Pots consist of five pristine pools. They are about a 3 km hike from the Upper. You can experience some world-class mountain views on the way. Mineral springs of greenish color that bubble on the surface can be seen throughout the journey. The number of travelers to Ink Pots is usually less, and the rush dies down. This is the time to find solitude The path is a steep rise over the canyon through the forest. It finally ends in a meadow that leads to the Ink Pots. It would take an hour to reach from Upper Falls to Ink Pots.

Enjoy a Great Hike in Banff Johnston Canyon

4. The Secret Cave

Want to be part of a treasure hunt? There is a hidden cave that is located between the Lower Falls and Upper Falls. Among the host of trails around the canyon, the way to the secret cave was a closely guarded secret! In reality, no one really knew the exact location of the hidden cave at Johnston Canyon.

The secret is finally revealed. "Travel as usual from Lower falls to Upper Falls. As you near the Upper falls, you will see a canyon (and the river) on your right. Continue walking. Stop when you are about 130 meters away from the upper falls. You will be a able to see a dirt trail on the right". Usually travelers miss it. Don't worry. On reaching the Upper falls, keep the location in mind and travel back 130 m to find the track. This is the path which will lead you to the secret cave.

The secret cave was really a secret a few years back. But due to the recent explosion of social media, a lot of travelers have come in search of the secret cave and found it. So, it is no longer a secret. But still it is a little bit tricky to find, and only a few travelers go in search for it. Don't find it surprising to see a few travelers in the secret cave.

The path to the secret cave is wet, unpaved and slippery. It will first lead you downwards 5 to 10 m towards the river. Then you climb some steeper slopes, and finally you will see a cave in front of you. Congratulations, you have reached your secret destination. It is better to go slowly and avoid falling as the secret cave trail at the canyon can become slippery and muddy after the rain. The adventure will surely give you an adrenaline rush. To truly feel this, go there early in the morning when there would be very few people.

Enjoy a Great Hike in Banff Johnston Canyon

Hiking Tips

A few more secrets for making the most out of your hike:

1. If You don't Like Water on Your Clothes, Grab a Raincoat.

The journey will make you wet. It may even make you freeze if you are visiting in winter. Carry with you a coat so that you can use it when you feel necessary.

2. Early to Hike and Early to Park Will Save You from the Crowd.

The canyon is a popular tourist destination. During peak season, there would be a large number of people . Even though there are two big car parking facilities, they can get filled, and you might find it difficult to park your car. So try to reach early in the morning before am to avoid rush and have a peaceful experience.

3. Wear Snowshoes for a Winter Hike

In summer, it is good to wear comfortable shoes, but hiking boots are more appropriate if the trails are wet, muddy, or covered with snow or ice in winter.

4. Slow and Steady

You may feel short of breath because of the higher altitude of the area. Take your time and stop as needed. Pack drinking water and a snack. Keep an eye out to see animals that feed very early in the morning. Keep your eyes open for bears! It is sensible to carry bear spray on any hike in the mountain parks and avoid wearing headphones.

5. Dog Lovers, don’t Worry!

Dogs are allowed on the Johnston Canyon Trail but must be with their owners at all times. Keep your pet on a leash throughout your visit to Banff National Park. Fines can be quite expensive for an off-leash pet violation. At peak times of the day, it can be filled with people. These may not be the best situation for your dog. During the rest of the year, first, check the conditions of the trial. If it is slippery, your dog can get injured by slipping or falling.

Bring some doggy-waste bags and do not leave these in the woods, on the trails, or behind a tree. Helpful tip: bring a large coffee cup with a lid and put the bag in this. Close the lid, store it and dispose of it later in the garbage cans of the car park. Dogs will love all the smells of the forest and the sounds of creatures of the woods. Please note that there are very few places that allow the dog to access the water's edge of the creek; bring a bottle of water and a small container to hydrate. Unfortunately, every summer, experiences of tragic situations in the park where pets become seriously ill or die due to heat exhaustion are reported.

6. Amen for Good Amenities

Johnston Canyon is exceptionally family-friendly. The trail leading to the Lower Falls and Upper Falls are very well maintained, and there are plenty of older people and families with small children on the path. There are toilets on the parking lot, and a gift shop and restaurants open in the summer at The Canyon Resort. There is a restaurant and a small cafe at the beginning of the trail of Johnston Canyon, Banff. There is an ice stand at the bottom of the hike with tasty ice cream. Bring money so that the family can enjoy ice cream at the end of the walk. If you would like to start this hike early, consider staying at the Canyon Lodge and Bungalows. There are two car parks at the Canyon, and if they fill up, you will need to park on the Bow Valley Parkway side or take a shuttle bus. A daily shuttle service is available between Banff Station and the Johnston Canyon, Banff, from May 18 to October 8. The trip takes 45 minutes for a round trip (free for children under 17). The first bus leaves the Banff Tran station at 7:45 am, and the last bus leaves the Canyon at 7 PM.

7. Wheelchair Accessibility

It's mostly down to the lower falls - however, some footbridges can only accommodate the width of the wheelchair. It is, therefore, best that you do this before 8 am on a summer day. This round trip will take you about 45 minutes, and you will enjoy beautiful views.

Whatever be the Season, One Destination

Banff Johnston Canyon is open throughout the year.

Winters are the most peaceful time to visit from December to April. The daylight lasts from 7 am to 6 PM. Want to climb a frozen waterfall? The upper falls (1,655 meters above sea level) freeze in winter and are excellent for beginner and advanced ice climbing. Although ice climbing may seem rather daunting, proper instruction allows beginners to complete simple courses. Ice walking is another unique way to experience the canyon during the winter. The waterfalls freeze over completely, and the enormous ice formations clinging to the walls look spectacular. Bear in mind that these trails are not patrolled at night. So, stay on the path and time your hike to the available daylight. Visit the peaceful canyon in winter and get ready for your 'Frozen' story. The white trees and snow dolls will be ready to welcome you for your walk on the snow. Just don't forget to bring your snow coat and snowshoes.

During the spring from May to June, the water levels rise, flowers blossom, and some solitary, grey birds can be seen bouncing up and down on streamside rocks. The water appears aggressively turbulent and thundering at specific locations. The daylight lasts from 6 am to 10 PM. These are the most exciting time to visit the canyon. You can see deadfall and huge trees being swept over the falls and down the floor of Johnston Canyon, Banff. There is a sense of freshness all around the Johnston Canyon welcoming new adventurers.

Summer, from July to September, brings with it fresh forest smells and the waterfalls become beautiful. The waterfalls are at the peak of beauty and colour as the muddy runoff has subsided and the emerald-green waterfall pools contrast against the pure-white roaring cascades. Moss and forest trees radiate smells and greenery. If you love dry paths and warm climate, this would be the best time for you.

The trees shed their leaves and orange, yellow, and brown colours fill the canyon in autumn. It is the most relaxing time to visit. It starts in October and ends in November. The daylight is available from 8 am to 6 PM. Autumn boasts shallow traffic volumes. The water levels fall, welcoming the poets and philosophers to the canyon. Whoever you are, whenever it is, the Johnston Canyon, Banff, will welcome you.

The Banff Johnston Canyon is not as busy as in the fall compared to summer. Due to the increased shade and cooler temperatures in the canyon, trails may remain snowy or have icy sections until May or June. They can also be muddy and slippery. Snowfall can begin again in October or November. It is a sensible idea to check with the Banff or Lake Louise tourist offices for current conditions before visiting.

The Way

Johnston Canyon is easily accessible by air and road. The closest airport to reach the canyon is the Calgary International Airport. You can find flights from any part of the world from the airport. Banff town is just 1.54 hours drive away from the airport. You need to travel another 25 km (30 minutes) away from Banff to reach the canyon. The Trans-Canada Highway which connects Banff town to the canyon is well maintained and the drive would be easy. Johnston Canyon Lodge is the starting place of hike. You should try to reach there by early morning. There are two car parks nearby.

Go and Enjoy

In Banff National Park, Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular destinations. It is one hundred percent justified. The scenic value with rivers, waterfalls, trees, and meadows are immeasurable. Above all, travelers can experience all this through a short walk. Be summer or spring. Be it autumn or winter; the canyon will blow you away.

The Banff Johnston Canyon is a fantastic place to visit with friends or family. The towering walls standing tall before you and the blue water flowing below you will make you feel humbled and overawed at the same time. It will most certainly be an experience to remember. What are you waiting for? Pack up and get going!

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