Ink Pots Hiking Trail
Ink Pots Hiking Trail
4.5

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  • Barbara
    New York City, New York276 contributions
    Pretty Ink Pots
    We hiked in early June via the Johnston Canyon Trail. Starting out at 7:30am, we didn't see many people. The lower and upper falls get crowded during peak times and many people just stop when they get to the upper falls. It was worth the extra hike to the Ink Pots. They are so pretty. Coming back down to the falls a around 10:00, it was starting to get crowded..
    Written August 9, 2022
  • Samuel K
    Manitoba, Canada177 contributions
    Great Hike
    My family and I enjoyed the hike to the Ink Pots. The Ink Pots were really nice and are well worth the hike out. We hiked up to the Ink Pots via Johnston Canyon. It was still icy out when we went, so I would recommend using ice cleats, which we thankfully had with us.
    Traveled with family
    Written April 1, 2022
  • CWT
    Ottawa, Canada331 contributions
    Good hike
    As per suggestions, we booked lunch at the Blackswift Bistro so that we could drive to the trailhead via Castle Junction. We got there at 9 and were the first ones there so we had the place to ourselves. The path is only 1 person wide at points so social distancing is not always possible. The path to the Upper Falls is paved and the views are beautiful. We continued on to the Ink Pots Beyond the falls, the path is a trail through the woods. It ascends for ¾ of the way and then descends to the Ink Pots. These were smaller than I expected but still interesting. There are panels explaining the pots. If you look closely, you can see the water bubbling up.
    Written October 19, 2020
These reviews are the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor checks reviews for fraud.
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ace4444
Fairfax, VA675 contributions
We hiked Johnston Canyon and added the ink pots to the end. It was a lengthy and arduous hike and after arriving at the ink pots we wondered what we'd been thinking. There's not much there, but if you've got the time and inclination, it's worth checking out.
Written July 5, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Camren K
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada33 contributions
Jun 2018 • Couples
It's about 4km to the Inkpots from the Upper falls at Johnston Canyon. We are by no means experienced hikers but thought that we might as well try and were curious to see what awaited us at the end. We did start the trail in the evening at 5pm, and so didn't see many people, but everyone we did encounter along the way gave us encouragement to endure even though they could see we were struggling a little bit. The trail up hill is challenging for beginners like us, but the last 1.5km to the inkpots was mostly downhill. What awaited us at the end was a magnificent view of the mountains, grassy hills, and river; and most importantly the inkpots, which we had all to ourselves by that time. This was our first time seeing them and were amazed at the bubbling little ponds of cold, blue, fresh water. We took some beautiful photos and really enjoyed the breezy mountain air. I'd recommend going earlier in the morning or late afternoon if you want to enjoy more of the sunshine and bring a packed picnic lunch and plenty of water. The hike there and back from Johnston Canyon Upper Falls took us about 2 hours total but we didn't really have proper footwear so took a bunch of rests to rehabilitate ourselves. I would recommend it if you have the time and energy and definitely wear some comfy hiking shoes because the trail is rocky,
Written July 1, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

_TheVacationers_1523
Sherwood Park, Canada59 contributions
Sep 2016 • Couples
We had never done a hike before and I figured this one would be good because if we couldn't make it to the ink pots, at least we will see the lower and upper falls. We went on a Tuesday at noon and it was busy, but not quite as crazy as I was expecting. No single file lineups, but around the falls things got an little more crowded. We decided to push for the ink pots, and about 2 minutes in I thought there was no way I'll make it. At the very least, the crowds had thinned out considerably. The first 2 km past the upper falls is uphill, and I will admit that I struggled. I had to stop more that a few times to catch my breath and then I took it pretty slow. There are a few cool look out points with nice views, we would stop at them for a few minutes to take a break. The last kilometre is a godsend of downhill paths (I forgot that they would be uphill on the way back, to my dismay) and it took us exactly 2 hours to reach the inkpots. That was with plenty of stopping, and a decent amount of time admiring the falls on our way up. The inkpots were well worth the hike and the feeling of accomplishment wasn't too shabby either! We filled our water bottles in the river (the water was clear and cold) and headed back, taking another hour and a half for a total of 3:30 hrs.
I would recommend a
Backpack
A light sweater/jacket
Good pair of walking shoes
2 water bottles per person (or one big one)
A camera
A snack to enjoy at the inkpots before heading back (we didn't and we're getting pretty hungry!)

Our legs are hurting today but it was worth it!
Written September 28, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Crystal W
Medicine Hat, Canada30 contributions
May 2012 • Couples
The hike to the ink pots is up and down both ways, so it is a moderate to hard hike. From the starting point behind the chalet, by the falls, up the mountain side, down the side, and to the ink pots is 5.7km. The falls are nice and the trail is paved up to the falls, then becomes gravel for the remaining 3.2km to the pots. The view at the pots would be nice in the spring and fall before the leaves fall, but in the late fall it was kind of dreary and disappointing. Just make sure you bring lots of water and a snack as it is a more difficult hike. There is no outhouse along the trail anywhere, so make sure to use the facilities at the trail head before heading out.
Written October 15, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

missingmpls
Auburn, AL30 contributions
Jun 2011 • Couples
To reach the Ink Pots, travel 3 km beyond the Upper Falls on the Johnston Canyon Trail. Starting from the beginning of the Johnston Canyon Trail, the round trip hike is 12.2 km. The Ink Pots Trail (after the Upper Falls) is strenuous--many long ups and downs. However, the final destination is neat to see--five mineral springs that are bright blue and green in color. The area around the Ink Pots is nicely laid out with benches, making it a great place for a picnic. If you're ambitious, you can continue hiking past the Ink Pots for several km. The valley, river (source of the falls), and surrounding mountains once you're at the Ink Pots are gorgeous.
Though the Ink Pots are really interesting and neat to see, if you only have a few days in Banff, it's probably too much of a time commitment to get to the Ink Pots--the falls, however, are a must!
Written June 21, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Robert H
Calgary, Canada149 contributions
Aug 2019
Johnston Canyon is one of the Banff area's most beautiful hikes and perhaps its worst kept secret. For that reason during the summer the hike is usually foot to heel with other hikers. Beautiful waterfalls but packed. This results in the parking lot filling up early and then parking by the side of the road for 1-2 km's in both directions from the lot. Not ideal.

Less well-known is that if you want to hike to the Ink Pots, and are willing to skip the waterfalls, there is an alternate trail which is far far less utilized. Just drive past the Johnston Canyon parking lot for 2-3 km's and pull into the lot at Moose Meadows. There is only parking for 2 dozen cars but there on a very busy holiday weekend Sunday, we found the lot 2/3rd's full, compared to hundreds of cars at Johnston Canyon.

The hike to the Ink Pots is 5.9 km out and another 5.9 km back. The first third is in dense forest with a narrow trail. The trial then links up with a broader trail with some sun. Turn left and note how it looks for your return trip. A km further on it links with the Johnston Canyon trail but above the second falls, when 90% of the crowd has turned back.The hike is uphill for about 4.5 km from the trailhead and then downhill for the remainder. It obviously reverses for the trip back. Roughly 1:45 hours up and 1.30 back, with short stops. Pack water and at least a snack for the top. Wild Flower Bakery in Banff is really good for sandwiches if you want to pack a lunch. Remember, whatever you take up you need to pack out.

The Ink Pots are interesting and the beautiful turquoise you get from the minerals in glacier fed lakes. Nearby Johnston Creek is frigid, shallow and rapid, but wading feels good after the climb, if you're careful on slippery rocks. Up stream a couple of hundred yards there is a rudimentary bridge, so explore for a while. Fantastic views up and down stream and the wild flowers in the summer are beautiful. Dogs can use the trail as well, but on leash.

The Johnston Canyon falls are beautiful, but I enjoyed the Moose Mountain route much more, as we actually got our day in the wilderness. Enjoy.
Written August 6, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

obiratkenobi
Winter Park, FL191 contributions
Apr 2017 • Family
We were squeezing in too much in one day before leaving for the airport the next day. Started with a Glacier Tour and I was told this was a must. So, we arrived at the base of this place somewhere in the last evening. I can't remember exactly when, but somewhere in the 6:45 to 7pm range.

Long story short. My wife isn't so into the woods and likes when people are around. The bears will eat them first apparently. I insisted we do it, and asked some locals if we could make it. They said, "Sure". Ut in some odd Canadian way that I can't recall. Maybe they were screwing with us. People passed us a lot, going the other way. No others were heading to the pots. 45 minutes in, we asked a couple heading out, "can we make it? How far? Again, smiles and a nod!"

The sun passed behind the mountains, but was about an hour and a half from leaving us. My wife began to panic. The trail is not easy when almost jogging, and I almost collapsed due to lack of oxygen. Remember, Orlando. In shape, but....

Wife's panic actually went into some odd state of shock, as all the blood left her hands and they were blue for he last half hour. I kept thinking, the next corner, we will be there. No. The letdown felt endless. We were deep in the woods, and it was almost 9pm. I blew it. Wife was correct. Daughter was not thrilled either. Many complaints.

We finally rounded a corner and arrived. It was truly beautiful, but we were in a panic, as we knew the trip back was long, and dark. 10 minutes after arrival, i was being told we must go. I was also getting a bit nervous, we had to book it out. We were really in the wilderness. With no means of protection, at dusk.

Bad Dad
Bad Husband

We will return. It was truly amazing! I would give it a good 6 hours though. Not 3, at dark.
Written April 28, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

lazanka
Queenstown, New Zealand68 contributions
I did quite a lot of hikes while visiting Rockies and I loved this one, you start with Johnston canyon, get to see some nice waterfalls and then head an extra hour to the Ink pots. On a sunny day its really beautiful, you can sit relax and observe stunning senery colour of the ponds is really nice. It took probably between 3-4hr return.
Written November 2, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Etienne S
Johannesburg, South Africa16 contributions
Mar 2013 • Couples
After the Johnston Canyon hike ends, the Ink Pots are about 2.7 km further. It was near the end of winter so the snow was still thick. It's an incredible hike through the forest after which it opens up to reveal the mountains and the Ink Pots. Highly recommended!
Written April 2, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

StevoCanmore
Canmore, Canada45 contributions
Beautiful scenery right near home. It's gorgeous here in the summer. Most of the tourists don't go all the way to the inkpots you'll have the area pretty much to yourself if you can make the hike past the lower and upper falls.
Written March 21, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Ink Pots Hiking Trail (Banff National Park) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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