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Ink Pots Hiking Trail

117 Reviews
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Ink Pots Hiking Trail

117 Reviews
Sorry, there are no tours or activities available to book online for the date(s) you selected. Please choose a different date.
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Bow Valley Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta Canada
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Johnston Canyon Icewalk
Hiking & Camping

Johnston Canyon Icewalk

284 reviews
Trying to trek along the frozen Johnston Canyon without a guide could be tough in frigid temperatures with icy walkways. Opt to take this guided tour from Banff, and see wildlife, waterfalls, and, of course, a lot of ice. Plus, this tour provides round-trip transport, ice cleats, a hiking pole, a snack, and a hot cup of cocoa to make things super easy on you.
$72.18 per adult
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CWT wrote a review Oct 2020
Ottawa, Canada293 contributions183 helpful votes
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.
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Date of experience: October 2020
2 Helpful votes
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KellyNagle wrote a review Dec 2019
417 contributions127 helpful votes
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We took the quiet way to Ink Pots via Moose Meadows (parking lot about 1.5km past Johnston Canyon parking lot if coming from Banff.) We were first up on the trail at 11am (haha) and had lovely fresh snow to press our boots into. There were so many fresh deer and elk tracks our eyes were darting around the forest looking for the track layers and before long we came up on 2 giant elk, their fur an orangey brown velvet against the snowy grey air and dark spindly tree trunks. We stared at each other for a few moments then gave a holler for them to know we were heading that way. They trotted off and disappeared into the woods in seconds. Amazing to hide such a large creature so easily. The trail was very easy to start then became a more sweaty incline as you approached the connection with the Johnston Canyon trail line. As we neared the destination, the grey sky turned blue and the sun lit up the frosty peaks for one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen. You’ll get cold wandering around the ink pots because you are sweaty and the wind dances through the valley. Bring a dry shirt to change into if you’re having lunch there. There are a few benches. The color of the ink pots is best viewed in summer. The low angle of the sun in winter penetrates and makes the pools look much darker than the brilliant blues and greens displayed in summer. The surrounding views are best viewed in a clear winter day.
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Date of experience: November 2019
1 Helpful vote
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travel8285 wrote a review Sep 2019
Anacortes, Washington14 contributions
Very easy hike. Good for children. Not for experienced hiker. Lots of red dirt and water. Interesting for children but not for adults. No pots. Pools of red water. A few antiques scattered mainly old machinery. Met some nice people on hike. Wasn’t crowded. Wouldn’t do again.
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Date of experience: September 2019
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Robert H wrote a review Aug 2019
Calgary, Canada151 contributions60 helpful votes
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.
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Date of experience: August 2019
2 Helpful votes
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Peter v wrote a review Aug 2019
Sauk City, Wisconsin12 contributions2 helpful votes
We did the Johnston Canyon (Upper Falls) hike and decided to keep going. The first part of Johnston Canyon is covered in tourists. But once you get beyond the falls, you start to lose a chunk of the crowds. I believe The Ink Pots were another 2400 km beyond the upper falls. We packed in lunch after after getting to the Ink Pots, we sat next to the stream and ate. The springs have a very rich and cool color to them. The water was frigid, but felt great on our feet after hiking so far! Worth the hike!
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Date of experience: August 2019
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