Johnston Canyon Trail to Lower Falls [CLOSED]

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Banff National Park

Johnston Canyon Trail to Lower Falls [CLOSED] is a 1.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 1.5 miles Elevation Gain: 400 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly

stroller friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

paved

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

closed

This trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information. Johnston Canyon is a gorgeous canyon hike with beautiful scenery. The drive from the town of Banff to the trailhead takes around 30 minutes. The trail begins along a paved pathway on a slight incline through the forest alongside the deep canyon. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous and there are plenty of amazing photo opportunities. There are some sections of the trail which follow along sturdy but narrow metal catwalks attached to the rock cliffs on the side of the canyon, which is fun. At the 1.2 km mark, you arrive at the Lower Falls. There is a wooden bridge which crosses the canyon and river underneath from the main trail leading to a small cave in the rocks on the other side. The tunnel through the cave is narrow and dark to walk through but at the end, there is an opening which is directly in front of the powerful waterfall and provides a unique vantage point. Be prepared to get wet! The Lower Falls are so beautiful and there are fantastic views from along the bridge and from the main trail as well. The trail becomes slightly more difficult between the Lower and Upper Falls, as it climbs more steadily along a moderate incline and continues through the forest and along catwalks, but is still completely manageable and should not be challenging for someone of average fitness. There are lots of small waterfalls to see in the canyon on this portion of the hike and many great viewpoints overlooking the canyon. Shortly before reaching the Upper Falls, there is a well beaten but unmarked pathway stemming off from the main trail which you can follow as it leads down a steep hill and into the bottom of the rocky canyon. There is a massive cave with stunning views of a very strange and uniquely shaped large rock in the canyon with a waterfall flowing on one side of it and a variety of lush mosses and trees growing on top of it. If you have time, we recommend stopping here. At 2.4 km from the trailhead, you come to the Upper Falls. The falls aren't visible from the main trail but a metal catwalk leads over the canyon and ends at a small platform near the base of these gorgeous tall waterfalls as they fall over the edge of a cliff. You can continue along the main trail past the Upper Falls on a short and steep climb to another viewpoint at the top of the waterfalls, which provides a unique perspective overlooking the gorge and the falls. The landscape is so beautiful from this area! From this point, you can continue hiking another 3 km to the Ink Pots which makes for a full half-day hike and are amazing to see though this portion of the trail can be very crowded. Johnston Canyon gets incredibly crowded during the summer months and is one of the busiest hikes in the Banff area. Get there early in the morning in order to beat the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. Even though it is extremely popular, this hike is definitely a must-visit and both the Lower and Upper Falls are worth seeing. Remember to bring a camera to capture the amazing scenery and take advantage of the many wonderful photo opportunities, as well as water and snacks. There are modern washrooms in the parking lot at the beginning of the trail and wooden benches along the pathway to stop. It should take between 1.5 and 2 hours to complete the hike to and from the Upper Falls.

hiking
icy
9 days ago

March 22, 2019

hiking
18 days ago

Extremely easy hike, very well kept trail but also very busy.

hiking
1 month ago

Easy short hike. Need spikes for your boots in the winter; very icy.

hiking
2 months ago

Easy short hike, busy in summer.

Unbelievably packed with people. Should have known better on a long weekend. Beautiful and easy to do with yaktrax, Watch out for deep holes on the sides of the trail in spots.

hiking
icy
snow
5 months ago

I’ll definitely come back in the summer!

hiking
icy
snow
7 months ago

Really easy trail with spectacular views! I loved that the trail was right next to the water. The trails were clear. Only a little icy nearby the waterfall cave

hiking
snow
7 months ago

Easy short hike. A bit slippery after the recent snow.

hiking
7 months ago

Easy hike with a beautiful view of the falls. Loved walking through the little cave to get closer up to the falls!

hiking
7 months ago

A little rainy today but no ice at all on the trail. Second time doing this trail. Shoulder season is the best time to hike this trail as tourists were at a minimum. Falls were gorgeous. Lots of moss and mushrooms

hiking
7 months ago

slipy

hiking
7 months ago

Wonderful hike through the canyon. Take the extension to the upper falls.

hiking
7 months ago

the trail is a built bridge that goes around the canyon. way too many people are hiking, and lots of kids/families. very easy hike with beautiful waterfalls and rivers.

WAY too many people.

hiking
7 months ago

Great trail, be careful in the winter can be super icy. Other than that it took us an hour to get to the top of the waterfall ! So beautiful

hiking
8 months ago

Interesting hike with beautiful scenery although it did feel repetitive after a while. The hike to both Lower Falls and back too us about 2.5 hours. Pretty easy although some brief inclines.

hiking
8 months ago

Really pretty walk along gorgeous blue waters. Definitely worth a stop.

Paved trail all the way to the upper falls but there are stairs where the upper and lower falls split. Completed the whole thing in less than two hours with multiple stops for photos. Great little afternoon outing. Lots of shade. Water views the whole time.

hiking
9 months ago

Well paved trail, impossible to get lost. A lot of people were here when I went on a Friday afternoon. If you're hiking to the Lower Falls, I would say it is worth it to make it to the Upper Falls too. At the Lower Falls, there was a cave with a really long line (I'm assuming a picture-taking spot). But the line was not worth waiting in, so I continued to the Upper Falls.

hiking
9 months ago

Nice scenery, a great hike for kids to get them interested in hiking. Quite busy on a nice day, well worth it to pay the $10 to park in the private lot and not have to park waaaaay down the road

Nice easy hike the whole family can enjoy.

hiking
9 months ago

Great scenery and a fairly easy trail but very busy.

hiking
9 months ago

Very easy and pretty trail. Just get there early because it’s a tourist hot spot for sure.

hiking
9 months ago

Get here early to have a chance at parking in the lot! Arrived around 7:30 and had almost no one hiking with us! Great trail, with amazing views!

Short trail with awesome views! Make sure to get here early to get a parking spot and avoid crowds

hiking
9 months ago

Super crowded trail come early if you want to get parking and see the falls without standing in line. Otherwise a family friendly trail easy.

hiking
9 months ago

We went at 2 pm when everyone else was leaving. So there was plenty of parking. It’s 0.5 miles from parking lot to waterfalls and super crowded. The waterfall is worth it

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