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Crowded but safe. easier trail for friends

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!

We tried this trail in early May. Pros: we had the whole thing to ourselves. Cons: we didn't make it very far! Saw and heard a bunch of avalanches, so be smart(er than we were). Loved the parts of the hike that we were able to do and can't wait to return someday and finish it!

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!

The Plain of Six Glaciers is an incredible day hike from Lake Louise with spectacular scenery. I have hiked the trail twice, in August 2016 and July 2017. This remains one of my favourite hikes in Banff.

This hike climbs high into the mountains through forests, a rocky avalanche path and along the ledge of a cliff and has some of the most beautiful views of glaciers, mountains, valleys and Lake Louise and eventually leads to a charming and rustic teahouse with delicious home-cooked food and beverages.

The trail began from the shoreline of Lake Louise in front of the Fairmont Chateau Hotel along the paved and flat Lakeshore Trail which followed alongside this beautiful turquoise glacial lake for the first 2 km. The trail then reached the far end of Lake Louise and a wooden boardwalk crossed over a portion of the lake and then started the ascent into the mountains.

There were vertical cliffs on the side of the path where you will probably spot some rock climbers. The well-graded trail then entered into a beautiful and peaceful forest where I saw some adorable hoary marmots on the rocks beside a small river. The path continued on a moderate incline for the remainder of the way as it gained a total of 365 metres of elevation with some steeper and more challenging switchbacks in the last section of the trail leading to the teahouse. It wasn’t too gruelling but it wasn’t simple either and there were some areas where the trail levelled out to give your legs a rest too. The hike was moderately challenging but I took my time and stopped for frequent breaks along the way which helped me.

The forest opened up to a wide open area with stunning landscapes and incredible views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, the Victoria Glacier, a large rocky avalanche path, and Lake Louise in the distance behind you. The trail continued through this landscape for most of the hike and then followed along a narrow rocky ledge on the side of a cliff before switchbacking up to the teahouse on the last portion of the hike. I was surprised to see so much snow and avalanche debris on the hike as I got higher in elevation and closer to the teahouse! The scenery on this hike was breathtaking, impressive and just so beautiful with plenty of wonderful photo opportunities.

The final section of the hike consisted of a series of steeper switchbacks up the mountain leading through the forest to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. The views of the Victoria Glacier were stunning and I felt so close to it! It was such a relief to reach the end of the hike after climbing the entire way there. The teahouse was a rustic and adorable two-storey log building with balconies all around it on both levels for seating. It was quite busy when I arrived there but managed to find a seat. I ordered the hand-ground hummus and salsa with tortilla chips and a hot chocolate and everything tasted incredible. The views from the teahouse were spectacular and it was so quiet and serene. There were outhouse washrooms here as well. From the teahouse, there is the option to continue hiking an additional 1.6 km to a closer viewpoint overlooking the six glaciers, however I was exhausted at this point and didn’t end up doing it, although I am sure it would have been amazing. If you’re lucky you may hear the rumbling of an avalanche in the distance here as well (I heard one last year but not this summer).

The trek down the mountain was such a welcome reward for my sore legs and the scenery was just as amazing coming down. I completed the entire 10.6 km round-trip hike in roughly 4 hours, including my stop at the teahouse.

Make sure to dress in layers and bring some warmer clothing on this hike, as the temperatures get quite a bit cooler as you gain elevation. Bring plenty of water and snacks and cash if you plan to eat or drink at the teahouse. Also be aware that this hike is mostly uphill on a moderate incline the entire way, with a steeper section shortly before reaching the teahouse. The air gets a lot thinner as you get higher in the mountains making it more difficult to catch your breath, so go slow and take breaks if you’re feeling exhausted. I found that my hiking poles really helped with the elevation and they took some of the pressure off my legs. This trail can get quite crowded during the day, so I suggest starting early in the morning in order to beat the crowds and secure yourself a good parking spot at Lake Louise.

The Plain of Six Glaciers is an incredible half-day hike from Lake Louise in Banff and I would highly recommend adding this one to your itinerary. This hike has some of the most amazing views and landscapes that I have experienced in the Rockies.

The Edith Cavell Meadows is a spectacular hike with breathtaking scenery or the beautiful flowery meadows, glaciers and mountains - it was the highlight of my trip to Jasper.

I hiked here in August 2017. The trail starts off gently climbing a partially paved path along the Path of the Glacier. It leads to a viewing area overlooking the Angel Glacier and Cavell Pond, where the views are amazing and you feel so close to the scenery. But the views just keep getting better along the rest of the trail!

The trail then continues to climb uphill as it passes over the rocky moraine and then enters the subalpine forest before opening up to the beautiful meadows with colourful wildflowers above the treeline. There are stunning views of the glacier and mountains throughout the hike.

The mosquitoes were relentless and aggressive along most of the hike and whenever I stopped to take a photo or admire the views or rest my legs, they attacked me almost immediately, which was really unfortunate. I didn't bring insect repellent but it would have been a good idea.

I saw lots of hoary marmots along the hike as well, which were super cute. Before you reach the main lookout at the end of the trail, there is a junction with two options - an easier and a more difficult route. I took the easier climb as the difficult one looked much steeper and was pleased with that choice. I ended up taking the difficult path on the way down instead.

I heard three avalanches along the way to the top which was a pretty unforgettable experience. I finally reached the main lookout on the trail and was in complete awe at how gorgeous the surrounding scenery was. I felt so close to the mountains and the Angel Glacier. The views were breathtaking!

There is another optional trail to climb a very steep trail even higher up the mountain, but I chose not to do that. The hike was consistently and steadily uphill from start to finish, with some steeper sections and some gentler ones along switchbacks, but it was totally manageable for someone of good fitness. I did it, and I am from the flat Prairies where I never hike elevations like this. I recommend going slow and taking lots of breaks if you're getting tired and use hiking poles. They helped a lot, especially with going downhill. Also, bring lots of water and snacks as there is nowhere nearby to purchase anything. The temperatures get much colder and windier at the top of the trail, so wear warm layers as well.

In total, this round trip hike took me 3.5 hours to complete including all of my many stops along the way. If you are looking for a fantastic and incredibly rewarding day hike in Jasper (it takes about 40 minutes to get from town to the trailhead parking lot) with stunning natural beauty, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this one. It was the best hike I have ever done so far and I feel like very few hikes will compare to this one.

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!

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.

This is one of my favorite “easy” hikes in the Banff area. It isn’t complicated at any point, doesn’t have much in the way of elevation gain, and leads to some spectacular views. Make sure you have bear spray. While I’ve never seen any, I’ve been warned there is a female grizzly that likes to forage in the area, and I’ve seen multiple black bears just down the road.

Depending on the time of the year, you may need to scramble over some snow and downed trees in the initial trail, and then spend some caution crossing slippery stones in a creek about a third of the way. There is a slight rise in ground when you get to the canyon, but it’s quick and easy with stairs to help you along. Finally you descend into the valley beneath the falls, and, again, depending upon time of year, can get pretty close to the waterfall. It’s not a long hike, and definitely worth the views. What I really want to do is find the path that takes you to the tarn that’s feeding the falls, and the incredible view of the ice field beyond!

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.

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.

Easy hike but truly stunning!

Excellent challenging trail, yet open to all able bodied hikers. In the summer I saw many people of all ages and physical ability going up the trail. Walk at your own pace and it's a great trail with an amazing reward.

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.

I really enjoyed this hike. We went Aug 1, 2018. The trail was not as busy as the Lake Agnes trail, it felt like a slower incline to hike, still a steep climb to the tea house. Beautiful views the whole way. The trail varied from switchback to hiking on rocks, and small pathways on dirt, it was awesome. We also continued on to the glacier viewpoint, it had spectacular views, it gets very rocky near the end, so tread carefully.

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.

Did this hike at the spur of the moment on a weekend getaway in Oct! Beautiful short hike. Micro spikes were required. Had the place mostly to ourselves except for a new friend we met!

hiking
2 months ago

loved it when i did it years ago

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.

Nov 3, 2018
Johnston Canyon was awesome—is great if you love water. The river through the canyon was beautiful. Easy hike on paved trail. The trail to ink pots was a bit more difficult, but not too intense. We rented crampons and made heavy use of them (lots of steep icy inclines). The ink pots are nestled in a valley next to the upper river. While not as bright blue as we expected due to the cloud cover, they were still amazing. The surrounding mountain views are awesome too—we sat for a while and had a snack before making the trek back.

hiking
2 months ago

Got here right after sunrise and finished right as the bus loads of tourists arrived in the parking lot. Very pleasant surprise and absolutely gorgeous. Saw only 2-3 other couples hiking. Ends with a waterfall but that’s not even the best part of the trail. One of my favorites.

After seeing Johnston Canyon, you can continue the uphill and slightly monotonous trail to the Ink Pots. The Ink pots are pretty cool and there’s a steam near them, but I would spend time hiking elsewhere if I had it to do over again.

Hiked on 11.1.18
Microspikes and poles up to the tea house. Heard multiple avalanches..Attempted to walk to the lookout point but turned around about 3/4 of the way due to high snow, unsure footing and avalanche risk.
Overall excellent hike had the whole area to ourselves just be prepared.

This this one about 3 weeks ago. Loved Johnston Canyon! Was a tiny bit disappointed with the Ink Pots, but still a very beautiful place.

Just wow...must-see waterfalls. The trail was good, easy peasy up to the upper water falls...from there to the summit, cardio-strength exercise...btw, it was a bit icy, but I made it with running shoes...from the summit to the ink pots, cleats must be worn, sharp slopes covered with ice. In total, I loved it :) take a look at photos I took

hiking
2 months ago

There was snow on the trail from the trailhead up. It was slippery on parts, but not so much that we had to use our icers. Hiking poles are highly recommended and probably necessary at this time of year! The final scramble up was tough with thigh-high snow, but well worth the trek. Gorgeous panoramic view from the top. This is really a beautiful hike. Took us two hours up and just under two hours down.

Did this as part of our yearly trip in September 2018. Was an amazing day and the weather was beautiful family friendly hike for all skill levels

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