Well, you may see Grandma and the kids along this hike…but it’s the side adventures that make it all worth it. Johnston’s Canyon lies within Banff National Park, approximately 30 kilometres from the town of Banff itself. It is a high-end tourist destination, with teahouse, ice cream shop and gift shop at the trailhead. It is also wheel-chair accessible and has many well-contained safety rails along the trail. However, along the 2.7 kilometre trek among dolomite rocksides, you can find at least 5 signficant waterfalls. A few of them require off trail walking, but it is well worth it. Along the trail, if you hear a roar, head to the sound and check out the falls below. As for the featured falls of the trail, Upper and Lower Johnston’s Canyon falls…they are beautiful. At the first falls, you can slide inside a little hole to get as close as possible to the falls, spray and all. About 1.6 kilometres farther than the first set is the Upper falls. These falls tower above the creek bed, almost 40 metres in height. The flowage is fairly strong and spray will reach you from fairly far away. If you continue farther along the falls trail, you’ll be entering day-hiking areas and the Inkpots, mineral springs nestled within mountain meadows. This trip would add another 3.5 kilometres one way to your day.
To get to Johnston’s Canyon, keep west from the Banff townsite. At the first exit, take the Hwy 1A exit towards Castle Mountain. This road is the old road to Lake Louise. Along the way, you’ll encounter old forest burns and plenty of wildlife. (Please be curteous and not park in the middle of the road while taking pictures…more than a few did this while we made our trip.) Johnston’s Canyon is well marked and 17 kilometres from the Hwy 1A turnoff.