Location Details: 

  • Directions: 30 minute drive northwest of Banff on Trans Canada Hwy (watch for the signs) 
  • Latitude / Longitude: 51.245695 / 115.841328 

Hiking Details:

  • Distance / Time: Average 40 minute roundtrip to Lower Falls, 2 hour roundtrip to Upper Falls
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal
  • Trail Type: Out and Back. Paved trail becoming dirt
  • Notes: Water and restrooms only at trailhead

Description: 

The Johnston Canyon area is located between Banff and Lake Louise along the Trans Canada Highway . Approximately a 30 minute drive outside of Banff to the northwest , it is an extremely popular destination given its ease of access and gorgeous waterfalls. If you want to make this trip (and it's highly recommend you do) you will want to go early – even in the offseason. It does not take long before the tour buses arrive and once that occurs the trail gets very crowded. For the hearty ones, arrive a little before sunrise to see the waterfalls in a natural, soft light. It’s worth losing a little sleep for!

There are actually a number of waterfalls along the trail in this canyon, all of them with the blue glacial melt water and surround lush green flora inside the canyon. The lower falls is about 20 minutes to get to, while the upper falls can take up to an hour. Follow the trail always staying close to the river whenever it splits and you will ultimately dead end at the upper falls. Along the way the trail will wind you past a number of falls along catwalks perched against the canyon walls. At the upper falls there is also an interesting wall to the right of the falls that looks like it has no business being there. Its light brown marbled color stands in sharp contrast to the canyon walls surrounding it, almost like mineral deposits have created this anomaly over the course of thousands of years.

Pictures:

#1: Lower Johnston Canyon Falls

Lower Johnston Canyon Falls

#2: Middle Johnston Canyon Falls

Middle Johnston Canyon Falls

#3: Upper Johnston Canyon Falls

Upper Johnston Canyon Falls

#4: Upper Johnston Canyon Wall

Upper Johnston Canyon Wall

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