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

We hiked to Arnica Lake today. The trail was hard packed snow cover the whole way. Great trail with a lot of great views along the way.

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

Completed Nov. 12-18, mild winter conditions.

Epic trail for advanced hikers. (See bottom to skip details and for conclusion)

Easy to get to, park at bow falls parking lot and walk past the golf course and head right to start. The beginning 1/3 of the hike is very easy, trail is obvious and easy to follow. Moderate incline.

The next third spices things up, trail starts to go up and down before hitting the switchback portion. Once at the switchbacks the intensity increases and the incline gets much greater, but the views get better!

Then you hit the last third and this is where things get seriously real. Once you go through the gully and onto the dragonback, the trail gets extremely intense. Gets difficult to follow the trail (especially with snow on the ground), but all you’re really doing is scrambling up so it’s not a big deal. Lookout for the yellow markers on the trees.

At this point, be prepared to be on all fours for the last 1.5hrs as you get closer to the top. This is a real scramble and NOT good for the faint of heart. As you reach the peak the incline nears practically vertical. You are on loose rock and footing is tough. Every 10 steps you’ll need a break. The peak will appear close, but it’s a tough and draining couple hundred meters.

Conclusion: Epic hike, epic views. Don’t go with your fam for a casual sightseeing hike, or if you’re not confident in your abilities. This is a hike for those who want to conquer. Plan for a 6-8 hour round trip in the winter. Hiking Boots mandatory, spikes are a good idea. Pack for wind/cold at the top. Bring lots of food. Have a blast, it’s a hell of a hike.

I climbed the rocks but there is a path behind it as well. Beyond belief beautiful.

The hike isn't that long and is very easy and the views are absolutely breathtaking!! Definitely the most beautiful and crystal clear lake close to Banff!! My oldest son even drank water from the lake.

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
11 days ago

Nov 2, 2018
Great hike, short (relatively) but uphill all the way. There had been some fresh snow when we were there, so it wasn’t too slick, but I imagine you would want crampons on a typical winter day, especially if you’re making the push past Mirror Lake to the tea house. Lake Agnes was covered and it was super windy up there, so we didn’t stay long before heading back down. Awesome views of the beehives, the valley, and Lake Louise from spots on the trail!

hiking
11 days ago

Nov 4, 2018
This was a great hike! Mostly uphill with a flat spot in the middle, pretty difficult I would say for inexperienced folks like us. My wife and I did Lake Agnes on Friday and Ink Pots via Johnston Canyon on Saturday, then ended with this on Sunday. Even with all the hiking we had already done, we went out and back in about 4.5 hours, but we didn’t make it all the way to the second lake (it was pretty snowy and that last push up the hill was a bit much for our inexperienced and tired legs). Wonderful views of the backside of Castle Mountain, and lots of snow-covered valley.

Thanks for the recommendation, G&J!

hiking
12 days ago

Steady incline to the tea house (closed). Lots of packed down snow so made it slippery in spots due to the incline. Some beautiful scenery along the way looking down on Lake Louise from the trail.

hiking
12 days ago

Lots of snow up there yesterday. Micro-spikes/crampons were absolutely needed. Few people on the trail because of the snow.
Snow makes this more difficult to get up to the top. Both Mirror Lake and Lake Angus covered with snow.
I would like to do this again in the spring/summer.

Lake Agnes views are SPECTACULAR. Easy and heavily trafficked gravel trail with some wooden stairs. Bring cash for the tea house.

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

Great hike! Did this about a week ago. Needed cleats! We lost the trail on our way up... at one point it goes way up on the right, we missed that and followed steps we found in the snow on the left instead. That path kinda followed the same curve around but way lower so we ended up scrambling in loose rocks in the avalanche path which was very steep... ouf that was challenging! Finally found the trail again close to the top. What a VIEW! You can see Lake Louise, Lake Agnes, Little Beehive Big Beehive and much much more!

Great hike from Lake Louise with tons of amazing views! The trail is icy and snowy at this time of year so make sure to have spikes (and poles help too). Overall this was a great trail that had some climbing but nothing too difficult. Highly recommend!

Went to do a sunrise hike Oct25 th and the trail is closed due to blasting. :(

Great trail. Definitely need shoe spikes, can rent in town for $9.00.

Amazing hike. Worthwhile having someone with you who has completed this before. It is not always obvious where to go (I got lost once!).
Also, note that the last few hundred metres are now covered in snow (21st of October). This adds extra difficulty. I’d strongly recommend cleats and poles. I didn’t have the latter, which meant I was scrambling more often than needed.
Also note that if you’re scared of heights, this one is not for you. There are some very steep places.

Beautiful hike...went today...it was crowded...the trail took me around an hour and a half to complete (one way)...the tea house was closed...do not go without you ice cleats..many people came in unprepared and were slipping all the time....i used my trekking poles which were very helpful specially with the descent..mirror lake and lake Agnes were frozen...the view from the top is spectacular...the difficulty of the trail is medium...prepare for weather change...take rests every once in a while...

Cannot stress enough how amazing this hike was. Coming down from the thumb was a little scary, because it’s very steep and all loose rock on a little goat trail, so we slid down on our butts (which left us very dirty and embarrassed going into the beautiful post hotel after haha). But you start from Lake Louise, go up past lake Agnes + teahouse, and the beehives, and get a beautiful view of the both lakes (Agnes, Louise) and the beehives. 100% recommend.

This was one of the first trails I did, and it was a wonderful introduction into hiking. Go early in the morning as it gets very busy (there’s a teahouse up there - not Agnes teahouse, although that’s close by) and make the extra 1km trek to go have lunch in front of lefroy and upper Victoria glacier. You’ll see a few avalanches for sure.

This is a great trail to get some fantastic views of the waterfalls Johnston Canyon has to offer. The trail is improved/paved until you reach the upper falls and then it is a well marked dirt trail that is easy to follow. After the upper falls we needed hiking spikes as the trail was rather icy in spots and for the final descent into the valley that holds the ink pots. Overall a moderate hike if you go all the way to the pots. The views at the Ink Pots are worth the hike themselves but the waterfalls are spectacular and really offer some great views along the way.

hiking
28 days ago

Sep 17, 2017 - awesome hike !

29 days ago

Pretty cool trail. First part to Vista lake (not frozen) was muddy and easy. Second part, the real ascension, was icy and snowy but well tap. Second half of the ascending part was more steep. cleats and pole recommended! Took 1h45 to go all way up. You can continue 3km after Arnica lake (which was frozen) to Twin Lakes.

Crampons + a good hiking boot are a must! Snowy and icy but the views are worth it.

hiking
1 month ago

October 14 2018
Quite satisfied with this hike! Did it with crampons (pretty necessary) and poles (optional here), with a 8 month old toddler. We are a 32/30 years old couple with some hiking experience and moderate fitness level and it took us about 1h35 on the way up (without much photo stopping) and 1h20 on the way down. First half is easy, steady way down to the first lake, with some mud. Some pretty views of the lower lake. After the bridge the way up starts. Somewhat steep in the second half, especially at the end after you reach the dried up lake. There’s about 100m ascent left at that point over less than 500m. Then you reach the lake, nestled in the mountainside, which is quite pretty. On your way back the end of the route isnt that dispiriting since it’s quite a gradual climb. Met 2 groups of 2 in total during the whole hike, pretty deserted! Note that on the way down (or up if you prefer taking breaks) the view in the last 1/3 is quite pretty as well.

Beautiful hike! Mirror Lake is very small and frozen now but a nice picture spot. Another half mile takes you to Lake Agnes which is also frozen but pretty. Tea house is closed but you can get a sense for its quaintness. Some steep parts of the hike and it’s snowy so you will want spikes.

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