Johnston Canyon & Ink Pots - Hike

An extremely popular hike to the lower and upper falls, and while the views may not disappoint, the volume of people may. If you hike this trail be prepared for single file almost the entire way to the falls. 

Johnston Canyon Upper Falls
Difficultyeasy - light
Round trip: 5 km
Hiking Time: 0.75 - 1.25 hours 
Elevation Gain: 143 m
FitBit: approx. 7,000 steps and 47 flights of stairs

Johnston Canyon Ink Pots *from the same starting point, these stats include those of the Upper Falls*
Round trip: 12 km 
Hiking Time: 3.5 - 4.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 530 m (cumulative)
FitBit: approx. 18,000 steps and 174 flights of stairs
LocationBanff National Park

Marked: Yes
Facilities: Yes
How to get there: From Calgary drive west on Hwy 1 past Banff to hwy 1A/Bow Valley Pkwy. Exit west and follow it 17.5 km to the Johnston Canyon Hiking Area. There are two parking lots (one larger one where the washrooms are, and one smaller one for the resort) and if both are full, people will be parking on the road.

Click for directions in Google Maps

Your trailhead begins across the bridge from the large parking lot with the washrooms and then past the cafe. It is paved for quite a while and eventually when you enter the canyon will be a narrow walkway. There is lots to see as you walk and there are interpretive signs to read as well. It won't take long before you are arrive at the lower falls where you can enter a small cave to get up close to the waterfall.

Don't stop there, but continue to the upper falls now where the climb intensifies slightly. You'll reach a lookout that is actually at the bottom of the upper falls and so continue just a short ways farther to the upper falls look out. You'll know it when you see it. (i.e. if you are underwhelmed by the view, you're probably not there yet.) Look for this sign below which shows you only have 0.3 km to the upper falls lookout.

From there you can decide if you wish to continue. If you do, remember that your trip will double in length and quite a bit more so in elevation. Continue on the path upwards towards the Ink Pots, but when you are nearly there you actually start to lose elevation (which means you have to climb up on the way back). Before you know it you'll come out of the trees into a meadow surrounded by mountains. You'll see a sign with a quick overview of the Ink Pots and from there you can venture around the paths to see them.

Some might say it's not worth hiking that far for a meadow view, but it all depends on how you see your effort! If nothing else, enjoy the fact that you made it, take a lunch break near the river and then return the way you came. 

Kid Friendly: yes 
Dog Friendly: yes *but note this hike is so busy I would consider leaving Fido at home next time

-This hike is so extremely busy it may leave you wanting, because as you hike it's hard to enjoy the scenery with many people to navigate around. Thus choose your timing wisely, go early or late when the majority of crowds aren't around, or else try a weekday.
-For those with extreme phobias of heights, this may not be the hike for you. There are parts where the walkways are over top of the river at quite a height up.

Happy Hiking!