Explore the most popular cave trails in Alberta with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Did it clockwise today. Very windy once on the ridge. Good views.

Good hike, sun was here, no need of spikes. The view at the top worst it ! Just be aware that the main of the trail is on gravely road just the last kilometers are on a mountain trail.

Great hike. Path is snow packed with very little ice right now, so could probably do it easily enough without spikes, but certainly easier with them. Get up there early to avoid the crowds, and you're in for a treat! Some amazing views on the way up, and the crowds really thin out once you get past the Upper Falls and head to the Inkpots. When we got to the Inkpots there was only one other couple there, so very peaceful! I just started hiking this past year, so certainly not a strong hiker, and this trail took us about 3 hours, including stops for photos and lunch.

did this trail on one of my last days in Banff and it was really beautiful!

The hike to the Ink Pots starts along Johnston Canyon and is around 10 km round-trip. I arrived to the Johnston Canyon parking lot early in the morning (around 7 am) and was one of the first people there. I hiked here in July 2017.

Hiking Johnston Canyon was gorgeous in the morning and it was so peaceful being almost completely alone with nature on the trail. It was a challenging but rewarding hike to natural bubbling pools of water and amazing views.

After the Upper Falls, the trail began to climb out of the canyon. It was a pretty steep incline for most of the way to the Ink Pots and since this was my first major day hike upon arriving in Banff from the Canadian Prairies, I found it to be quite challenging and exhausting. The trail continued to gain elevation as it passed through the dense and lush forest which was beautiful and so peaceful. I was alone on the trail for most of the hike which was amazing. There was an opening in the trees at one spot along the trail which provided incredible views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

From this point to the Ink Pots (about 1.4 km), the trail leveled out and then descended to the final destination which my legs were very thankful for!

The trail then opened up to a beautiful meadow surrounded by mountains with a river flowing through it and a collection of natural pools of turquoise coloured water, which bubbled up from deep inside the Earth’s core called the Ink Pots (you will see circles in the sand at the bottom of the pools which look like blots of ink and this is where the water bubbles up from). There were some wooden boardwalks and trails through the area leading to each pool, where you could get a variety of amazing views and great photo opportunities. The scenery was breathtaking!

I found this hike pretty challenging and strenuous, as it was mostly a steep and gruelling uphill climb after the Upper Falls to the Ink Pots, but definitely worth it. Hiking downhill most of the way back to the trailhead felt AMAZING.

The trail along Johnston Canyon to the Upper Falls gets quite crowded and busy around late morning during the summer season but very few people continue on to the Ink Pots, so hiking this trail will likely be a peaceful experience. I would still recommend starting early though in order to get a parking spot at the Johnston Canyon trailhead (be there for around 7 am or 7:30 am), as it took me a good 4 to 4.5 hours to complete the hike including the MANY stops that I made along the way to catch my breath, take photos and enjoy the scenery.

Make sure to bring a snack to enjoy at the Ink Pots and lots of water!

We went counterclockwise but didn’t make it quite to the top because it was Very windy as we went past the 1.5 km mark. Many trail options -steeper or less steep or climbing areas. Stayed to left for more trees and things to grab when scrambling up. No snow or ice so no crampons needed. Alright view but not nice to see the ex Shaw factory right there. Awesome terrain though.

Hiked to Inkpots via Johnston Canyon. Trail is well packed. Bring microspikes (no need for snowshoes just spikes). Falls were busy. I didn't stop just went straight to the Inkpots. Beautiful views today. I would recommend going through Moose Meadows if you're looking to avoid the crowds (not sure on Moose trail conditions there though)

Very few people beyond the upper falls. Had the trail to myself for portions. Overall easy hike if you are an avid hiker. You can hear avalanches in the distance which is cool.

Hiked down to the rock. Make sure you have spikes on to prevent a fall. Cool to see it up close.

Top safety rating for me; trails are well defined and signs are everywhere, it’s definitely worth the hike down to the famous rock located at the second right down closer to the water, you’ll know it when you see it. Photos are great but not as astonishing face to face. The trail up to the Ink Pots is well worth dodging the crowds for a moderate to easy treck up to the Ink Pots where you can eat lunch or just to wander some more. Kind of sucks you gotta pay the Banff Parks Fee just to go to the canyon. Still a top notch hike and definitely one I recommend for most ages and hiking abilities. I will do it again!

Dec 30th leisurely walk to an epic couple of caves, definitely recommend checking them out!

I’m not entirely sure why this is such a popular hike. Maybe it’s because it’s not too challenging. Maybe it’s because the falls are pretty, or maybe because it’s not a terribly long “hike”.. The worst part of the experience is that you’ll be fighting crowds for views and hiking space. At least until you move on toward the ink pots. Likewise, the ink pots were not overly thrilling either, even if neat and hypnotic.

After the falls, you won’t get great views until you descend into the valley where the ink pots are. From there it is significantly prettier, and I think I’ve read that there are trails beyond. I’d recommend seeing the ink pots if you’re already tolerating the mass of tourists at the falls. It’s a good hike to get your legs and lungs adjusted before tackling harder hikes.

The rating of 1 star is just so I can update users that the trail to access this hike is currently blocked for use by the sled dog tour companies. Unless you’re sure there are no dog tours that day pick a different trail.

Was a last minute hike that we didn’t prepare to do, but was worth ever minute. Fair amount of tree coverage and wide path. Very hilly most of the way.

Just hiked yesterday (December 25th) and the trail was gently packed through the tree line. Good boots, and some ice cleats and you would be fine. Didn’t see the trail markers on the way up, just used the GPS but the views were beautiful and enjoyed the quiet.
Got to just above the tree line where you cross the creek and start gaining more elevation where the snow was knee deep, so with snow shoes it would be more manageable.
Took about 2.5 hours up and back again, would do again and recommend decent for any moderately fit skill level.
A reminder, you’ll have to park about 1km away from the trailhead as the campground is closed. The path was well groomed and a pleasant start to warm up!

awesome cave, bring bike/xc skis or do the road march

hiking
23 days ago

Did the loop counter-clock wise and there were a few tricky sections with some exposure heading up. As many mentioned before don't miss the red diamond but it doesn't necessarily mean you have to go up right there but within a 20 foot radius you do, pick the spot you feel most comfortable and ensure your feet have good holds then push your way up by bouldering. From there, you have one more spot where you have to climb up a crack in the rock and also ensure your feet have holds and go for it! the way down the snow was the trickiest part as right now it's a thick crust with soft dry snow below so just take your time. Beautiful views, and endless ridgelines, with multiple peaks (or false summits). The tallest summit is Grant MacEwan so save your summit beers for that one if you bring anything! You'll know when you find the time capsule which is currently full to the brim.

Same comments as the others. The first section is too busy but the frozen waterfall is worth dodging the traffic. Heading to the ink pots is more like a typical walk in the trees and good exercise. The ink pots themselves are neat but not nearly as interesting as previous comments would suggest.

hiking
24 days ago

Did this one on Dec 22. Fantastic little scramble that we decided to do clockwise. The hike up to the ridge is very straightforward without much scrambling. Once you start heading down Heart Ridge, things change dramatically. A bit of route finding and some interesting scrambling sections. If you take your time and be mindful these sections won’t be a problem. Very little snow on the trail if any, more concentrated on the top. Have fun !!

been a few times and been great in all weather. little disappointed people graffiti such unique things though

This hike was actually 17 km with the access road closed. Took 4 hours with exploring

Easy hike but truly stunning!

I did this hike in 2017. The waterfalls are cool, but it is highly trafficked by tourists. Once you pass the upper falls and start on the trail to the ink pots, it is much nicer. Steep climb. When we reached the valley where the ink pots are, it was amazing. It felt like we had just stepped out into a beautiful valley from a short hike from our car, not remembering that we had hiked many kilometres to see it.

Nice short climb to the top. The landscape is unique and picture perfect.

amazing hike! Unbelievable how beautiful the hike is and I definitely recommend it. Make sure to pack a good lunch because you're going to need it. A lot of incline thigh but Adobe waterfalls on the way and just beautiful in the summer!

Great hike with an incredible view at the end. If you are looking for a moderate winter hike in the area this is a great choice. The path to the falls had several groups on it and was busy for a winter trail, but once you passed the upper falls the trail was empty. The view of the mountains from the inkpots was perhaps more incredible than the inkpots themselves. The snow was packed most of the way. Ice cleats were helpful, especially when going down.

Just wanted to do an update on the cave. If you go to the end of the cave there is a secret passageway that’s low to the ground. And this is where the adventure begins! Super cool if your not claustrophobic! Lots of crawling around finding more tunnels to go in. It eventually ends because the space gets too small to crawl through. Love this cave!:)
Dec15 we went back a year later. And the cave has collapsed at the end where all the passage ways are. I have before pics and pics a year later of where the large ice wall
Is and there is so much debris! Be careful! You don’t want to be in there if it collapses

Easy hike, lovely views in the canyon - get here early as the trail gets busy!

Took the fam here last year, was awesome, busy but awesome.

2 months ago

Great hike. Few tough areas but some great views towards the top. Kids would have some troubles along the way, the cave could easily be missed. Keep your eyes open! Would be good till the snow flies!

Enjoyable hike with scenic views of the spray lakes for most of the way. The campground is closed so parked at the further parking lot and walked along the road 1km to the trailhead. The initial trail was flat terrain for about 2 km but quite icy in multiple spots. Took us 3.5 hours to get to the beginning of the lateral moraine, from where the glacier would probably be visible in summer. We turned around at this point due to knee-height snow and undefined trail/glacier. Decent winter hike but lack of reward in reaching the destination. Fresh snowfall would make the trail more difficult to follow in winter. However, would recommend with variety of terrain and views.

hiking
2 months ago

Enjoyed Heart Mountain, Horseshoe Trail hike. We did this back in May 2018. We did the couple harder scrambles, we did go counter-clockwise (west to east) and found the ♦️ painted on the side of a cliff, climbed up there... I’m sure we got off the trail a few times. Scramble up and down the other side. This hike is in FULL Sun, and can be very windy. Bring lots of water, and some food. It turned into a full day hike for us by time we found our way back to parking. Breathtaking views the whole time, took lots of pictures. Loved it! It was a challenge for us.

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