Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park is an incredible hike to do – the canyon is amazing really in all seasons (see my post on Johnston Canyon in the winter). As it is so beautiful a lot of people have heard about it, the parking lot can get quite busy. So it’s a really good idea to get to the parking lot early, especially if you’re headed there at a weekend in summer.
From the parking lot you cross over the bridge towards the Johnston Canyon Resort buildings and then turn right to get to the trailhead. There’s only one route through the canyon to see the falls and the majority of it goes along paved trails and concrete boardwalks attached to the canyon walls. But if you want to avoid the canyon and just hike to the Ink Pots, you can park at Moose Meadows parking lot (west of Johnston Canyon) and there’s a trail which joining the one from Johnston Canyon just after the Upper Falls.
The trails winds up and down around the canyon, and the first falls you’ll reach are the Lower Falls. Here you take a branch off the main trail down to see the falls. This part is really cool – there’s a bridge over to a cave, you walk through the cave to a small viewing area on the other side and get a brilliant view of the lower falls.
Once you’ve taken your photos at the Lower Falls head back to the main trail and carry on up along towards the Upper Falls. Don’t worry there’s still plenty of photo opportunities along the way, and there are points along the boardwalk which stick out a little further into the canyon so that you can get some great shots!
As with the Lower Falls you’ll take a trail off the main trail to the Upper Falls – this time it goes down a wooden boardwalk where you’ll get some more great shots of the photos. If it’s busy you might have to wait a little to get to a good spot.
You could end your trip to Johnston Canyon here and return back to the parking lot the same way, but if you have the time carrying on to the Ink Pots is a good choice. To get there is fairly straightforward as it is well signposted from the Upper Falls junction on the trail.
Before you leave the area of the Upper Falls, don’t forget to take in the viewpoint from above them.
From the Upper Falls there is a little bit of a climb and then a descent down to the Ink Pots.It doesn’t take too long but it’s a good idea to pace yourself so that you can take in the scenery.
The Ink Pots are very beautiful, they’re cold mineral springs in a meadow beside the creek that feeds into Johnston Canyon. There are a number of benches around the seven mineral springs so you could stop and enjoy your picnic here.
The return to the trailhead follows the same path as the one that you took to get to the Ink Pots.
In total the return distance (including the Ink Pots) is approximately 12km (roughly 7.2 miles) with a 215m (700 foot) elevation gain.
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