Nestled just on the outskirts of Banff town lies a magical place sought after by many… behold the Johnston Canyon Hike. Think perfect green pines, crystal clear streams and blue glacial falls.


If you want to experience the true beauty of Canada, but are a little scared of the day-long hikes that are dotted all throughout the country, then this is perfect for you. This trail will lead you on a gentle uphill hike that can take between 1 – 2.5hrs depending on your personal enjoyment. Johnston Canyon Trail will take you walking alongside a glacial stream, boasting colours of blue and turquoise.

Halfway along the hike, you will reach the perfect viewing point of the Lower Falls. This viewing point can be reached through a small cave after crossing the bridge. These Lower Falls run into a small pool which has been formed by cascading waters over thousands of years.


Another half an hour from this point you will come to the upper falls, a 40-meter drop of cascading water and ice. Whether you are there in the warmer months or the snowy winter months you will be delighted with what you see. A short hike that will leave you fresh-faced and a little more down to earth than when you started, it’s not one to miss.


Winter and spring months the trail is usually still snow-covered, however, that does not take away from the beauty. It is still magical in its own way. Large parts of the creek will still be frozen in time, but depending on the month, the glacial water may have started to melt. It is truly a beautiful contrast to the summer scenery of the canyon.


In summer, the water will be running with crystal-like appearances and all the trees will have shed their snow coat, displaying vibrant shades of greens. Don’t be surprised if you run into a few squirrels or deer on the way.

Hiking Time, Distance And Elevation To The Upper And Lower Johnston Falls

  • The time required to reach the lower falls is approximately 30 minutes or 1.1 km’s. The Elevation gained over this distance is 30 meters.
  • The time required to reach the lower falls is approximately 60 minutes or 2.6 km’s. The Elevation gained over this distance is 130 meters.
  • If doing a return trip going to both lower and upper falls allow 2 to 2.5 hours.

Directions to Johnston Canyon Hiking Trail

  • From Banff Town: Head west on the Trans-Canada Highway for approximately 5kms. Take the exit for the Bow Valley Parkway and continue west for 18 km’s until you see the sign for Johnston Canyon on your right.
  • From Lake Louise: Follow the Trans Canada Highway 1 to the Castle Junction exit. At the top of the exit, turn left and follow the signs to Castle Junction until you come to a T-section with the Bow Valley Parkway. Turn right and follow the signs to Johnston Canyon, approximately 6 km’s down the road.
  • Alternative route from Lake Louise: Take the Bow Valley Parkway the entire way. It is a slower route that will add approximately 15 minutes to the drive but offers a chance of spotting wildlife. From Lake Louise village take the overpass crossing the Trans Canada Highway. Take the first right, (Bow Valley Parkway) follow it until you get to the signs for Johnston Canyon on your left-hand side.

Tips For Johnston Canyon Hike

  • In the winter/spring months, it is ideal to bring Crampons as some patches of the trail may be icy.
  • Due to lots of shaded areas, even in the summer months it can get still get cool. It is ideal to pack some layers in case.
  • Bring some drinking water and a few snacks. (Make sure to take your rubbish with you when you leave).

Avoiding The Crowds On The Johnston Canyon Hike

  • We highly recommend visiting the Johnston Canyon Hike in the winter months as there significantly fewer people making for a more enjoyable experience.
  • This is an extremely popular hiking trail during all months. In the summer months, it can get very congested, especially on the trail to the lower falls, so it is best to go early to avoid the crowds.
  • If cars are parked for long distances down the Bow Valley Parkway near the canyon it means the large parking lot at the trailhead is full and the trail will be packed.

Find places to stay near Johnston Canyon here →

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