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One of my favorites, generally not busy either.

4 days ago

Great day at Chester Lake today! Definite incline at the beginning to get things going but levels out further into the trail. Has been snowing pretty good but the trail is relatively packed still. Definitely recommend either snowshoes or spikes and poles. Friend did manage the trail with just hikers and poles however it made for a couple of slippery descents in areas. Got on the trailhead at 9am so it was a nice and quiet hike on the way to Chester Lake. Trail was definitely getting busier on the way down. Would do this hike again!

5 days ago

Great hike. Lots of skiers coming down the northern side of the loop.

Crowded but safe. easier trail for friends

beauty of a trail. we headed up there yesterday too the "road" side first to the top, went to the fire lookout and then down the other side (jewel pass) was crazy to see the different conditions. felt like we did all 4 seasons in 1 day!! in total the hike was 16.5km

on Chester Lake Trail

9 days ago

Hiked on Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, no need for snowshoes as it was packed snow. It was not icy at all, but spikes or poles would be helpful for the upward and downward climbs and descents. I did it with just hiking boots and poles and was just fine. For those that have not done this trail it is easy going for about a km then it’s a steady climb for approximately 2km, then it levels off. Bring something to sit on ( small tarp will do) to have your lunch or snack when you get to the top!

9 days ago

Excellent hike. Beautiful winter views. You would be fine to hike it with ice spikes if it has not snowed in a while.

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.

10 days ago

Hear about Chester Lake all the time and been wanting to try it since we moved here four years ago. Beautiful blue sky day. Fair number of cars in the lot (20 or so) when we started but when we left at 4:30 we were the only ones there. We used ice trackers. It's possible to go with just boots (trail is hard packed) but later in the day the sun warmed the snow and some of the downhill sections (it's all downhill on the way back) were really slippery. I must admit the long uphill was a little more than I expected but I made it.

on Chester Lake Trail

10 days ago

Gorgeous hike. We didn’t need our snowshoes because the snow was so packed down. But, spikes were helpful. We’ll be doing this hike again soon.

completed this hike on January 12th. Great hiking conditions for this time of the year. Did the hike up to the fire lookout, views open up to the west if you do this extension.

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

16 days ago

We visited Chester Lake yesterday and it was beautiful! Fresh snow and lovely scenery. We used snowshoes, but could’ve gotten away with just spikes because the snow wasn’t too high. The trails are well-marked and not too busy. We also brought our dog (on-leash) and he had the time of his life :) Will definitely be back!

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!

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.

Great hike and awesome views from the top. Definitely worth the extra hike to the fire lookout station, incredible views! If you’re short on time just do the prairie view track (go counter-clockwise along the loop) then head back down the same way. The back half of the loop was alright but quite a bit longer and a lot of just walking through the trees. Jan 4, 2019 trail was good the whole way, lots of hard pack snow but hiking boots and poles were fine, a couple spots would have been nice to have crampons/spikes but nothing too slippery.

19 days ago

Climbed to the elephant rocks today. Trail was in great shape with fresh snow. Highly recommended.

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!

21 days ago

climbed from chester lake to summit,great time

on Mount Baldy Trail

21 days ago

Hiked this trail on December 30, 2018 as my last hike in 2018. The trail was clear and almost snow free in most sections. You will get a great view when you reach the North Peak as it is the first high peak along the Kananaskis Road (east side). It has little bit scrambling. We hiked up in about 2 hours and came back in less than 1.5 hours. If you plan to register at the peak, please have a new registry paper as the old one is full!

My husband, son and 5 year old grandchild and I hiked about 2km out and back again. Beautiful views, blue skies but lots of snow. Rolling hilly path which was a bit of a challenge for a 5 year old. We will definitely be back to hike it again and hope to complete the full loop! Trekking poles were helpful. We hiked to Rawson Lake in the summer so seeing part of the path in winter was a beautiful change.

21 days ago

The views are totally worth it when you get to the top. We were snowshoeing, so the signs directed us to the Chester Lake Snowshoeing Trail, which is not the trail that is listed above. About 1/3 to 1/2 of the snowshoeing trail I would have rated as hard (very steep), but the rest of it was beautiful and relatively flat. I recommend starting earlier in the day (at least by 10 AM) so that you have good light when you get to the meadow. It took us about 4 hours to get up and back.

22 days ago

Trails are pretty packed down. Micro spikes are all that’s required.

Great hike we went on a very hot day so there was lots of run off on the hike out.

23 days ago

Nice day but overcast. Busy but polite group. Easy level and up and down under 2 hrs. 7.7 km round trip with 351 meters in elevation. Trail well groomed by use. Up top views are stupendous!

24 days ago

Great hike. Incline at the beginning and needed to take some breaks but flattens out at the top as you walk towards the lake. We had snow shoes but you would have been fine without until it flattens out. Past the uphill part snowshoes were a must as it got a lot of snow overnight. This took us 3 hours and I recorded 8.2km.

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.

awesome hike. tons of people on the trail. We wore spikes because the trail was packed down enough so we didn't need snowshoes. Brought the pups and they had no problem on the trail. 1 hour 20 min up, 40 min down.
we lost a tri-coloured ring on the trail or parking lot. so if anyone has seen it please let me know!

Dec 29, 2018: Windy and easy

25 days ago

Had a great snowshoe today, sun wasn’t out and it was snowing but it was spectacular.

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