Johnston Canyon Trail to Lower Falls

EASY 215 reviews
#19 of 174 trails in

Johnston Canyon Trail to Lower Falls is a 2.4 kilometer 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: 2.4 km Elevation Gain: 122 m Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly

stroller friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

paved

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

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
1 day 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
3 days 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

hiking
7 days ago

Nice easy walk. Short with pretty waterfalls at the end. Very kid friendly

Cool little walk to the waterfall! Definitely go under the cave thing to get closer to the falls, worth the wait

hiking
12 days ago

Very family friendly. As stated before it is popular so it is crowded, but worth it.

hiking
13 days ago

Easy pathway with a stroller. Definitely a great hike if grandma and grandpa are in good shape. I think with a stroller it took 30-35 minutes. Highly recommended, with low effort, high reward type of hike!

hiking
off trail
14 days ago

Absolutely love this trail! The whole Johnston Canyon has a paved trail with fence so it’s hard to get lost. There is an opportunity to go off trail to go to the lower part of the falls up close and I would advise NOT to skip it!!! It’s absolutely beautiful! About 3/4 of the way up you’ll see a beaten path through bush just off the paved trail. It’s a right, take the trail and follow it down to the river then continue to walk in the left direction until you reach a hollowed our rock area. Right around the corner is the falls and if you go to the very back of the hollowed rock area, it serves for awesome pictures! Totally frame worthy :)

hiking
14 days ago

Yes, very lovely but very crowded. Paved path manageable for any experience level. Parking limited in the lot but available on the street.

hiking
15 days ago

Like everyone said, this was incredibly crowded but worth the trip. Felt a little like Disney of Banff National Park but if you are there to see the falls and can ignore the crowds- you cant miss this. Stunning water, family friendly and gets cooler in the canyon. Also, we saw a Moose and Black Bear on the 1A on the way in ... the drive alone is a great experience.

trail running
15 days ago

World class views and a well maintained trail! Went in the evening and there wasn’t a ridiculous amount of people but most people who do this trail are clearly not regulars on the hiking path. Probably the most beautiful hike I’ve ever been on but the amount of inexperienced and unaware people on the trail can get a little frustrating.

decent waterfall would do it again

hiking
18 days ago

Extremely busy going up and down on the narrow trail. Views along the way are really nice and almost better than at the lookout point. We didnt stop to see the upper falls as there was over 30 min of waiting just to snap a shot.

hiking
21 days ago

Nice trail but super crowded. Views on the river are nice but we have seen them more spectacular.

hiking
21 days ago

Arrived around 7am on Sunday and there was hardly anyone on the trail. Headed out around 9am and it was getting busy!

hiking
25 days ago

Fun trail for young kids. Narrow in spots. We started at 7:30am, and was getting busy on our way out. Recommend earlier the better.

hiking
27 days ago

Beautiful scenery. Many people, worth coming early and getting a head start. Crowds thin out as you get higher and further along.

hiking
27 days ago

Super pretty! The thing that is a bit difficult is the amount of people. Parking is impossible to find and the trail is so over crowded everyone and their grandma is there. I went 3 years ago and it wasn’t half this bad.

hiking
27 days ago

Super busy as most people make it to the lower, but not the upper falls. Paved path with some narrow bridges. Go early, as when we came down from the Upper Falls, there was about a 30 person wait to go through the small tunnel in front of the falls.

great view even in th rain

hiking
1 month ago

Lovely! Keep going further if you want to see the Ink Pots. They are worth the view!

hiking
1 month ago

Car park is hardly big enough for the amount of people who visit here! Had to park down along the road and walk to the beginning of the track. Get there early or catch the bus up there. Highly trafficked trail, paved all the way up to the falls. easy walking hike

hiking
1 month ago

Super crowded trail so get there early! Easy to walk on as it’s all paved, with nice views along the way.

hiking
1 month ago

really boring trail. waterfalls pretty, but literally just a paved path. EXTREMELY crowded trail, literally people constantly touching you pushing past and stopping in the middle of the trail. No parking available because it was so busy, overflow was pay parking and also was full, had to park 2km down the highway from the trail head. A lot of pushy tourists. Did not even bother going up to ink pots because I was so frustrated. Probably would not come back.

hiking
2 months ago

Busy, but we expected it to be. Parking is horrible! Go early or late.

hiking
2 months ago

Trail was pretty busy but definitely worth seeing that gorgeous scenery!

hiking
2 months ago

Meh, there was a lineup of people to this, not really worth it to me, very easy walking.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful easy and safe hike with beautiful views of the canyon and the river, perfect for families with young children. A bit busy, but that's to be expected given the easy access and level of difficulty.

hiking
2 months ago

Quick and easy half mile trail. Definitely the busiest of all the hikes we did on our trip. But as usual...the views are always worth it.

hiking
2 months ago

Definitely worth doing if you’re driving past. Nice and easy trails/boardwalks. A bit of uphill but nothing too strenuous considering the short distance.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

Load More

Featured Trails