Hiking Johnston Canyon is an extremely popular day hike in Banff National Park. Actually, it’s quite possibly the busiest and most crowded hike in Banff. Hiking Johnston Canyon takes about half a day (depending on how fast you go), and is perfect for families of all fitness levels.
Johnston Canyon was the first hike I did in Banff, and it was the perfect way to start my trip. Here’s a guide on what to expect and some tips for your hike, enjoy! 🙂
A Guide to Hiking Johnston Canyon & the Ink Pots
Tips For Hiking Johnston Canyon
- Dress in layers (even in the summer months it can be chilly)
- Pack water and snacks for your hike
- Use the restroom before you begin. There are only public restrooms at the entrance
- There is a cute little café and ice cream stand as you begin or end the hike. The maple walnut ice cream cone makes for an excellent end to the hike. ;)
Hiking Johnston Canyon & the Ink Pots
Johnston Canyon is broken up into three main hikes:
- Lower Johnston Falls (Roughly 1.1 km or 0.5 miles)
- Upper Johnston Falls (Roughly 2.6 km or 1.5 miles)
- The Ink Pots (Roughly an additional 3km or 1.8miles from Johnston Falls)
There are also a number of longer hikes that continue on from the upper falls that are suitable for backcountry camping.
1. Trail to Lower Johnston Falls
The 2.6km (or 1.5-mile) hike out to Lower Johnston Falls is relatively flat and easy. Throughout the majority of the hike there is a man-made catwalk for safety and easy access for walking along the sides of the canyon.
As you approach the lower falls, you’ll see a bridge where you can cross across the creek for closer views of the falls.
You’ll walk through a short cave for views of the falls. Be careful because it is quite slippery and your camera equipment will get misted.
2. Trails to Upper Johnston Falls
Hiking to Upper Johnston Falls is a bit of a steeper climb. This hike consists more of forest and woods than the lower falls.
There are two viewing areas to see the upper falls. The first is the bottom of the falls where there is a catwalk for better viewing. Careful with your camera equipment as you’re likely to get wet here.
The second is the top of the falls. There are several lookout spots where you can look out at the falls as the water plunges down below.
3. The Ink Pots
The additional 3km (or 1.8-mile) hike to the Ink Pots was my favorite part of the entire hike through Johnston Canyon! If you don’t know (because I didn’t!) the Ink Pots are a group of crystal-clear, jade-green spring-fed pools of water. Whew, that’s a mouthful.
The Ink Pots are beautiful, and located in the meadows above the creek. To get to them, the trail is steeper and a bit tougher. Because of this, the hike to the Ink Pots is a more remote and secluded experience. There might even be times when no one else is on the trail with you. But don’t worry about getting lost, the path is clearly laid out.
Tip: It’s best to have sturdier footwear for this trail
The trail will open up to a beautiful meadow, with the Ink Pots scattered throughout. The valley between the mountain ridges is stunning, and you can see where the creek runs through the valley.
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Do you plan on hiking Johnston Canyon and the Ink Pots? Love to know in the comments below!