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Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

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Houston, Texas
posts: 15
reviews: 2
Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

I have a few questions about Johnston Canyon Lower Falls:

Can you walk the Johnston Canyon Lower Falls without a tour guide? It looks like you can, but I'd rather not assume.

Do you need spikes for your shoes in early March?

The road to get to Johnston Canyon, Bow Valley Parkway, is that safe to drive in the winter?

Thank you!

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
posts: 12,336
reviews: 86
1. Re: Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

I haven't walked Johnston Canyon in winter, but based on weather and trail conditions here now in Jasper (which are likely quite similar to the Banff area), and thinking about conditions at Maligne Canyon, yes I would suggest cleats for your shoes. Any trail that gets well trampled tends to get icy in later winter, especially when we've had slightly warmer (above freezing) temperatures and then below freezing again at night. I have been doing a lot of walking on packed trails in the past week or two, and have been thankful to have my cleats on.

It would be best to have winter tires on your car but the Bow Valley Parkway is maintained - ploughed and sanded - through the winter. Of course, winter conditions may mean driving slower than the posted 60 km/hr speed limit.

Calgary, Canada
posts: 18,680
reviews: 2
2. Re: Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

Cleats are fine, but don't sweat it if you can't easily find them. I've done this hike many times in winter and have never used cleats.

The hike to the lower falls is really, really easy. Paved paths and wheelchair accessible. Great views and very beautiful throughout the canyon, especially if there has been some cold weather and the waterfalls are nicely frozen. A guide is absolutely not necessary.

Have fun.

Cheers,

Terry

Charlottetown...
posts: 31
reviews: 116
3. Re: Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

You can definitely do this without a tour. My friend and I took a little picnic with us...and a blanket to sit on for the upper falls...and enjoyed a lovely snack at the "summit" of our hike.

The road is safe - make sure you have snow tires and that the weather has been clear for a couple of days - it is not the primary highway and so not a priority in getting ploughed. If you want to avoid driving a good portion of it, you can take the main Highway to Castle Junction and then take the road there to the Bow Valley Parkway it will bring you to just a Km or so from the Johnston's Canyon Parking lot.

I recommend "cleats" you can get a pair any "sports" shop...or even at the Dollar store - you can get something to give you a grip on the ice.

The hike is easy to moderate. The ice build up on the path depending on weather can be significant. We hiked when there was a lot of ice without the cleats and there were steeper areas where we had to sit down to stop ourselves from falling hard.

This is a truly amazing hike - both in Winter and in summer. And each for different reasons. In winter the ice cascades are spectacular. You may even see some Ice Climbers in certain areas. And even if it is snowing it gives you some amazing photos. In fact for picture taking a more cloudy day is better to reduce the stark contrast of light and shade.

You will love it.

Houston, Texas
posts: 15
reviews: 2
4. Re: Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

Thank you all for your help!

Edited: 11:53 am, February 25, 2013
5. Re: Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

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