Johnston Canyon Trail to Upper Falls

EASY 441 reviews
#6 of 136 trails in

Johnston Canyon Trail to Upper Falls is a 5.0 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Massive, Alberta, Canada that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
5 km
ELEVATION GAIN
236 m
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

forest

paved

views

waterfall

wildlife

snow

With over one million visitors per year Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Banff National Park. The lower falls is very powerful and can be approached via footbridge and pedestrian tunnel, while the upper falls is highest and can be taken from a platform at the base or top of the falls.

hiking
3 days ago

October 9
Cool hike, great views of the canyone and walking right above it on the path and grates. Very icy though, high fall risk, crampons suggested. The only problem with this hike being the amount of people there (high) and the amount of people falling and basically scrambling not to fall because of the ice.

6 days ago

Lovely hike but you will want micro spikes especially for the trek up to the upper Falls. So many people slipping and sliding without them. Parking was no problem at 9:30 in a Thursday. Not crowded at all. But bring spikes!

hiking
6 days ago

Easy hike. Current snowy/icy conditions add a little more difficulty to get up to upper falls. Not as crowded due to overcast weather and trail conditions.

hiking
12 days ago

Great trail! Just very very icy. Only could make it up because of railings. If you don’t have spikes, very difficult with snow/ice. Otherwise would be very easy. Can’t wait to come back and do again.

18 days ago

These canyon trails are just magnificent! Such an amazing walk. Make sure you go up close to the falls!!

hiking
22 days ago

Hiked both sets of falls. hiked up to the ink pots , they were pretty cool.

hiking
22 days ago

Beautiful, easy for the whole family.

walking
24 days ago

Ok if you like big crowds , smelling other people’s breath and fighting your way past hundreds of people taking selfies in the most inconvenient spots. Not worth the drive for the canyon or falls walk but the drive thru bow valley parkway affords you pretty colours in the fall . That is all.

26 days ago

Great hike to upper falls. Overcast and misting rain. Here at 8:30 and alone most of the way up. Heavier traffic on return.

hiking
30 days ago

We arrive around 1pm today, Lot 1 was full, but lot 2 had space. The hike was nice, a little crowded, but not bad. My only disappointment was that I couldn't get down to the "cave" to take photos of the giant rock from below. The area was closed due to nesting of the Black Swift. Hopefully next time.

hiking
1 month ago

The crowd is worth dealing with to see the many beautiful falls on this lovely trail. Hope to go again and be able to go all the way to the ink pots

hiking
1 month ago

As many will say best time to go is early or late. We arrived at the parking lot at 9 AM on a Tuesday in Sept and the lot was only 1/3 full. By the time we got back to our car at 11 (after going to the upper falls) both the primary and secondary lots were completely full. The trail itself is a paved trail with may catwalks all the way to the upper falls, but still interesting with great views all the way up. Make sure to take your time to enjoy the views and don't get stressed by all the people and go into it realizing you will need to wait at some of the best viewpoints to get your videos and pictures while others take theirs. Not a technically challenging hike at all, but round trip is about 3.4 miles with a solid elevation gain so make sure you have comfortable shoes on (many wore sneakers). Definitely glad we did, but not one I'd be anxious to do again mainly because of the crowds.

walking
1 month ago

Easy! Go earliest you can or late evening to avoid the crowds. Tour buses give only enough time to make it to the lower falls so upper is even less trafficked. It’s beautiful and worth seeing but I prefer less crowded and a little more challenging.

1 month ago

Great hike

hiking
1 month ago

This trail was great for us with a three year old and 20 month old. We took the baby in a backpack but could have easily used a stroller at this time of year. Our three year old managed the hike to the upper falls with minimal complaints. We knew that this trail was likely to get very busy so set off early (around 8.30am) and on the way up the route up was really quiet and we only saw a few people. However, by the time we were coming back down, busloads of tourists had arrived and it was much busier. There is a lovely shop/cafe at the base of the trail.

walking
1 month ago

Waterfalls were great but the crowd puts a dent in the rating. A paved trail. Certainly not natural.

1 month ago

This is a pleasant, easy hike with decent views provided you go early in the morning when it’s not absolutely jam packed with people.

The waterfalls and canyon were nice, but if you’re willing to put in a little more time & effort you can find much more interesting and dramatic scenery in the area.

1 month ago

Easy hike with amazing surroundings. I would suggest going very early in the morning as it can get very touristy. Preferred this hike in winter as it’s not as touristy and the frozen waterfall looks amazing! I think the place where people take the photo of the rock with water surrounded by it is closed because of an endangered bird.

hiking
1 month ago

Very pretty canyon. Lots of people like everyone mentioned. We arrived by 8 am on a Wednesday and were able to park in the main lot. When we left around 11 the lot and road were full for a long distance. The lines at the lower and upper falls were easily a half hour wait though to see the falls. Well worth it but it is frustrating. The upper falls are the best!

walking
1 month ago

Crowded even at 5pm but it is beautiful. It’s more of a path then a hiking trail so there are a ton of families. One of the most appealing spots, the stand alone rock and cave, is now closed due to some type of bird conservation; with red caution tape and signs that threaten trespassers with a $25,000 fine.

1 month ago

Way too crowded. Head over to Tekakaka Falls instead.

hiking
1 month ago

As most of the other people have said, it’s SUPER busy, and everyone so relatively slow. Would’ve been nicer to go at a less busy time. The Upper Falls are nicer than the Lower ones, so it’s worth the hike up.

hiking
1 month ago

Very nice trail. Don’t go further than the Upper Falls as the Ink Pots are not really worth the extra kms. One star docked solely because this trail is insanely busy! I advise everyone to avoid 10-4pm as it’s as busy as Banff Ave! 6pm is a great time as it’s not so crowded.

2 months ago

Although it can get super packed the views are definitely worth it. It's only unfortunate that you will have to line up at the viewpoints to get your chance to see the lower and upper falls. There are a bunch of nice areas past upper falls with less people and you can sit beside the water. We came at 2pm on a Monday in mid-August and by then the early people had left so there was parking in the parking lot!

2 months ago

The crowds and lines on this trail made me feel like I was at Disneyland. It was seriously crowded on a Wednesday early afternoon. We waited 30 minutes to enter the cave at the lower falls. Not worth it in my opinion. There was another line at the upper falls. My favorite part of the hike was the views of the river as it carves through the rock passage way. The water is so clear and crisp looking. Avoid this hike during peak season if you hate crowds. Otherwise, the views are worth it if you can stomach the crowds.

2 months ago

Good Trail. Lower falls is must see if you can't climb all the way to upper falls...

walking
2 months ago

Amazing view. Easy trail. Totally worth doing it! And my winner dog did it also!

hiking
2 months ago

A busy trail but the waterfalls are worth the wait.

2 months ago

Arrive extra early to get a parking spot in the lot, otherwise you’ll have to park along the road and walk in. It’s extremely busy and populated. It’s a very easy trail, good to do with kids or the family. There is a “hidden” cave which is fun to find and explore.

hiking
2 months ago

Pretty easy hike the hardest part was avoiding crowds. We arrived just before 9 and got a good parking space. If you are trying to do photography I would highly recommend arriving around 8 to avoid crowds.

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