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Improvement District No. 9, Alberta

Hike Johnston Canyon

1.6 Miles Total - 393.7 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Sachith Siriwardane

An easy 2.6km hike that winds along a beautiful river in Johnston Canyon. Seven sets of waterfalls, cliff-side catwalks, and limestone caves await you on this amazing hike.

Getting There:

The Canyon is very well marked, but here are directions anyway if you're coming from Banff: Head West on the Trans-Canada Highway for about 5 km or so. Take the Bow Valley Parkway exit, and continue West for another 18km - you'll then see signs to your right for Johnston Canyon.

The Hike:

Johnston Canyon is very well marked, as it is a popular tourist spot. From the parking lot, you should have no problem finding the trailhead. For the hike, you have two options: You can go to the lower falls, which takes about 30 mins (1.1km), or go to the upper falls, which takes about an hour (2.6km). I'd highly recommend going to upper falls, it's only an extra half an hour and the view is totally worth it. The hike itself is relatively easy. A majority of it is along a boardwalk that winds through the canyon following the river. The sections that go through the forest are only a slight incline, and very manageable. There are seven sets of waterfalls in the canyon, but you'll know when you reach the main attraction. As you get to the end of the trail, you'll have a few viewpoint options: there's a path that goes to the base of the falls, and another that takes you to the top of it. I'd check out both if you have time. Along the way, there are a few places where you can go off the path and get a little closer to the river, so check those out - just be careful, especially if it's recently rained.

What I wish I knew:

  • This place is a little more popular than I expected. Beat the crowds by going early, or closer to closing
  • Explore all the pathways. If I could go back and do it again, I would check them all out because some people got some cool pictures I missed out on.


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Overall rating: 

Johnston Canyon

Beautiful trail/falls! This is a VERY popular area so go early to avoid crowds. The guided path takes you along the river to both of the falls and it’s very easy for all ages. There’s a natural cave you can walk through to get really close to Lower Falls to make this place even more special.

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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