On our way back from Fairmont Hot Springs, we stopped at this trail. There were a lot of people here. Even though there was some snow on the ground, it was a popular place. The trail takes you past two different falls and beyond. Past the falls are some back country trails for overnight hiking, fishing......
We only made it to the first set of falls because we had limited time to explore.
The trail consisted of various walkways that may be scary to some.
I went to the second set of falls this spring (2006). Well worth the time. The trail is 2.7 km one way and has an elevation climb of 50 meters.
Between Banff townsite and Lake Louise you can either take the highway or the older "Bow Valley Parkway". Along this Bow Valley Parkway, a little north of Banff you find the entrance to Johnston Canyon.
This is a narrow canyon created by a small but wild stream. After awhile you can choose between a short path to the lower falls or to continue further into the canyon. We only went as far as the lower falls. Apart from the standard viewpoint, you can use a small tunnel to end up at the foot of the falls. I understood that the Upper Falls are just as beautiful.
Johnston Canyon was by far my favourite walk while in and around the Rockies. It may not be in the same league as Lake Louise or Peyto lake in terms of worldwide recognition, but the path along the river walking to the falls is just awesome!
Johnston Canyon has an upper and lower falls. The upper falls are just over a 2k walk from the car park, while the lower falls are only just over 1k away. Having so much to do that day, we decided just to head for the lower falls.
There are so many picture opportunities along the path!
Im not sure how else to describe Johnston Canyon ..... its one of those places you just have to see to believe. The picture opposite gives you a good idea of how nice it is ..... and this is only a small part of it!
The lower falls themselves are lovely, but i much preferred the walk to get to them!
Johnston Canyon can be found on the Bow Valley Parkway around 30k north of Banff.
Johnston Canyon should be an absolute must on everybodies "to do" list!
This is a great hike - the path to the lower falls is paved & wheel chair accessible, so anybody can do the hike to the lower falls. You will find it quite crowded - try to arrive in the morning for the least amount of people. If you continue past the lower falls you will find the rest of the path (which is not paved) to be fairly uncrowded, since most people only go as far as the lower falls.
As you can see from my photos, you can also do this hike in the winter. It can get pretty slippery so good footwear is essential.
The distance to the Lower Falls is approx .5 mile. The Upper Falls are another 1 mile further up the trail. This hike is just gorgeous. In the summer it is lush and green and there is water everywhere.
I signed up for a Discover Banff Tours ice walk through Johnson's Canyon which was the highlight of my trip. The scenery is astonishing and the guides were tremendously knowledgeable and entertaining.
this place is a really nice and easy walk on wooden trails so its really something any1 can do
after 1 km ull see the lower falls and if u continue that trails ull get to the upper falls after another 1.5 km or so
the falls r really nice and ull also see a nice weeping rock right next to the upper falls
We have gone back to these falls many times. There are actually three hikes there - one to the lower falls (about 1 hour round trip), one to the upper falls (2 hour round trip), and then a hike to the paint pots on top of the valley floor (4 hour round trip I think - it's been a while since I have gone on that hike)
One of the reasons the hike is so popular - you can push a baby carriage up to the lower falls. The falls are amazing!! You can get really close to the water -- the builders of the trail have built a trail into the sides of the canyon in some places.
The lower falls is cool because there is a cave under the mountain that gets you really close to the rushing water.
I visited the Canyon in October 2000 and twice in July 2005.
Johnston Canyon is part of the Banff National Park's glacial valleys that are near Cascade Mountain. The canyon flows into the Bow River between Banff and Lake Louise. There are the Lower Falls where the waterfall plunges 10 m into the pothole and this can be reached via a short walk from the Visitors Centre (by Bow Valley Parkway). The Upper Falls is around a km (less than a mile) further via rugged terain and this is three times as long (more than 30 m) than the lower one and there is a viewing platform where you can see the canyon down below.
There isn't a charge for visiting Johnston Canyon (although there's an admission fee to enter Banff National Park).
Be sure to take in Johnston's Canyon! It's a great walk for any season of the year! You will experience the thrill of walking next to a gorge surrounded by a spruce and pine forest. The smell alone is exhilerating!
It's a 3 km railed path to the Lower Falls, and a total of 5 km to the Upper Falls. If you are so inclined for more exercise and scenery, you can continue on to the Ink Spots at the top.
The Johnston's Canyon hike is one of the most popular day trips in Banff.
The first 0.7 mile to the Lower Falls is very easy hiking (even street shoes are adequate) and highly photogenic, but is a "high-use" trail.
The additional miles to the Upper Falls and Ink Pots are a bit more rugged but well-worth the effort, particularly for those who seek a more solitary ramble.
Allow 2 hrs. hiking time one way.
Maximum elevation: 5,400 ft.
These falls are amazing!! You can get really close to them too and feel the RUSH, but be careful as the water on the trail makes it slippery going!
At the the end of the trail that goes to the falls is a cave under the mountain that gets you really close to the rushing water...as close as you'd want to get, without diving in.
Watch for the little diving birds along the way hunting for food. I saw many of them diving into the mountain stream leading up to the falls.
Johnston Canyon is on the Bow Valley Parkway about half-way between Banff and Lake Louise. The hiking trail snake along Johnston Canyon, formed when glaciers retreated north at the end of the Ice Age.
The canyon can be steep at places, requiring the trail to hug around cliff walls on metal supports. The quick-rushing water go over many spectacular waterfalls, the main ones being Lower Falls and Upper Falls.
Lower Falls is only about 1 km from the head of the trail. A wide, powerful cascades 20-m in height, Lower Falls can be admired from a platform right below the falls. The platform is accessible via a short tunnel through the side of the rocks. You'll be sure to get wet.
Upper Falls is another 3 km away, but well worth the moderate hike. Along the way you'll see several waterfalls and a lush landscape covered with moss and ferns. Upper Falls is a majestic cascades that drop 40 meters into the mossy gorge below. The viewing platform is suspended over the gorge and may be a challenge for the acrophobic.
One of the most popular dayhikes in Banff. The trailhead is just off the Bow River Parkway and there is a popular resort at the beginning of the trail. If you seek solitude you will have to follow the trail well past the falls. The lower falls are about a mile up the trail and the going is slightly uphill, but very easy. We saw people from age 2 to 85 on the trail.
I have to give some credit here to the visitors of the Canadian National Parks. For the most part, they are willing to get out of their cars or buses and do a little walking. In the States, you don't see visitors to the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone too willing to walk to the sights. Therefore, it is very easy to leave the masses behind in the U.S. In Canada you have to walk that extra mile to lose the company of strangers.
The falls are ok, but there are more stunning ones up in Jasper and over in Yoho and Kootenay. I think Johnston Canyon is popular because it is close to both Banff townsite and Lake Louise and it is accessible to almost everyone regardless of age or fitness.