Johnston Canyon – Banff


Johnston Canyon is a popular hike in Banff National Park. You can experience the beautiful canyon views along with waterfall sights during your hike in Johnston canyon. The canyon offers lower and upper trails with some elevation gain in both these trails. Johnston Canyon is a moderate hike that can be done by everyone and you can choose the trail depending on your fitness level especially if you want to take the Ink Pots trail that starts after you hike the upper falls trail. Our group had a mix of young kids, seniors and adults that did the hike all the way until Upper Falls Trail.

View of the lower falls on the way to Upper trails
View of the lower falls on the way to Upper trails

The trail to the lower falls has minimal elevation as it takes you through the forest. The lower falls takes you through the catwalks with the creek flowing across and high up into the canyon above the waterfalls. There is also a tunnel in the canyon bedrock which was crowded when we visited in August month. You’ll be much closer to the water and experience the mist all over your face and of course the camera as well 🙂


The trail to the upper falls has slightly higher elevation and you’ll be climbing up several steps. As you hike through the upper falls trails, you will see various scenic views and also be passing the middle level that has set of cascading waterfalls.


Hiking Time to Johnston Canyon Trails
1. Round trip time to both lower & upper falls takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours
2. If you just want to hike the lower falls, it takes ~30 minutes one way (1 KM one way) with a very low elevation gain
3. If you want to hike the upper falls, you are looking at ~ 4.5 Kilometers round trip that will take you approximately 2 hours. This trail does have an elevation gain of ~ 400 feet with some steps climbing.


Driving to Johnston Canyon
From Banff, head west on the Trans-Canada Hwy for around 6 Km. Take the Bow Valley Parkway exit and drive for ~11 miles that will take you to the Canyon.

Upper falls view
Upper falls view

General Information when visiting Johnston Canyon
There are picnic tables available in this canyon if you are planning for lunch after the hike.
There is small restaurant in the canyon, will be expensive and we found pretty much all food, groceries, gas triple the cost. It’s a tourist spot, so be prepared to pack your own food if you wanted to save some money.
Restroom facilities – When we visited the Canyon, the restroom was not well maintained and there were no toilet papers available in any of the restrooms. Well, you don’t have a choice but something to consider to plan for restroom breaks before you start the hike.
Bring water & energy bars with you.

Amma on her way hiking to Upper falls trail
Amma on her way hiking to Upper falls trail

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