Hiking Guide for Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park

Johnston Canyon Elevation
crypt lake rating
Difficulty Easy

The Johnston Canyon Trail (to the Upper Falls)

Banff National Park, Alberta

Johnston Canyon is one of Banff's top rated hikes, since its got moderate inclines and tons of waterfalls. I recommend doing this hike in the winter/spring, because the frozen falls are an incredible sight. Make sure to bring ice cleats if you do this hike in the winter/spring because the trail can get pretty icy. To get to the trail head head west along Highway #1 until you come to the Castle Junction. Turn right, and then turn right again and you should see a turnoff on your left for the Johnston Canyon parking lot. This trail is very busy all year round, so plan accordingly.


Once you start the hike you begin to follow the creek upstream on the paved path. The lower falls is about a 1.1 kilometer distance, and as you get further along you begin to climb up onto catwalks that make it so the creek below isn't damaged by people walking around it. The first part of this hike is mostly a stroll, with most families opting to just do this portion of the hike.


Once you reach the lower falls, you can go through a tunnel to get a much better view. Be careful though, as the tunnel and opening on the other side can get very icy in the winter due to the mist coming off the waterfall. Should you continue on to the upper falls, you should know it's 1.7 kilometers further than the lower falls. The trail gets a bit steeper here and will get your blood flowing if it wasn't already.


When you arrive at the upper falls, you might notice there's snow still around it. It's like this because the upper falls is mostly in shadow and not getting enough sunlight to melt the ice.


Head back the way you came when you're done looking at the upper falls. In total you will have hiked a distance of 5.4 kilometers. This will take longer than normal though because of the large amount of traffic on the trail at all times of the year. It is a unique hike and is definitely worth checking out if your in the Banff area, just make sure to get to the parking lot early. If you'd like to see a video of what Johnston Canyon looks like, watch the video below.

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