Hike to the Johnston Canyon Cave

Canada Johnston Canyon Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    3.4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    700 Feet

Scenic
Waterfall

Johnston Canyon is one of Alberta’s many gems. Located in Banff national park, this stunning waterfall hike is a quick 3.4 miles roundtrip.

It’s amazing how much varied scenery you see over the course of the very short 1.7 mile hike. Follow the catwalks through the canyon as the stunning turquoise water flows below. If you’re feeling up for a longer hike, you can continue along the trail to the Ink Pots (makes for a great winter hike!), which is an additional 3.6 miles. To avoid the crowds, it is highly recommended to start this hike early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

To get to Johnston Canyon, simply follow the Bow Valley Parkway west to Johnston Canyon for about 11 miles. You’ll find the parking lot on the east side where you’ll then follow the footbridge to the trailhead. The trail begins immediately past the lodge with a gradual ascent.

Shortly, you’ll come to Lower Falls that has several very unique vantage points. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are a few areas along the trail where some off-trail exploring will take you to some amazing spots. The Johnston Canyon cave is one of the most photographed locations in Alberta. Pay attention between Lower and Upper Falls and you’ll see an easy to follow trail that leads you to this incredible spot. Shortly after the cave, you’ll reach Upper Falls which features an impressive 30 meter drop.

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • Camera
  • Water
  • Snacks
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Reviews

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Loved this hike but start early cuz it's popular. The main pic on this blog is closed. Not even sure how to find it. While I was there, someone went off trail to take a picture and fell off a cliff and into the canyon. Luckily he wasn't seriously injured (broken ribs and arm), however search and rescue had to helicopter him out of the canyon since they couldn't clear his spine. Could have been much worse. Stay on the trail, friends! Parks Canada is trying to preserve its natural beauty as much as possible.

18 days ago
18 days ago

Going to the cave is a best kept secret! I have hiked the canyon many times and to the ink pots and it is beautiful enough without going off trail. I have never gone to the cave and from the trails already worn you can see how many people have tried. There are signs posted asking people to stay on the path and just like anywhere, this environment is fragile and should be respected. I disagree with posting/informing people of a location that is clearly out of the boundaries set up by Parks Canada.

19 days ago
19 days ago

I hiked this very popular and well-used trail with my parents in August, and on our way down the hill we were confronted by bear 136 "Split Lip". He's the second largest male grizzly in the park and he followed us up the trail (blocking our way down) for a solid two miles. It was terrifying, we couldn't get around him until he decided to leave us alone. But a beautiful hike nonetheless!

6 months ago
6 months ago

I think saying the cave is one of the most photographed locations in Alberta is a bit of a stretch.. Johnson Canyon is a great hike but staying on trail is recommended everywhere in Banff National Park, especially popular hikes like this one.

6 months ago
6 months ago

This is the most breathtaking hike to an amazing waterfall. Near the end of the first falls you can actually go through a hole in the wall and get sprayed by the falls. I definitely recommend going early in the morning as it's a huge tourist attraction and the trail is narrow. To get the early definitely check out the campground across the road. It's a great place to stay but books up fast!!

8 months ago
8 months ago

A great quiet place to get away from the tourist crowds of Johnston canyon. Highly recommended in the winter!

9 months ago
9 months ago

Did this hike as an afterthought on our final day in Alberta -- we were tired but glad we decided to go. It's short and sweet and the famous "secret spot" off the trail is a must have Instagram shot!

11 months ago
11 months ago

Completed the hike to lower and upper falls at around 7am. Had the place to ourselves and it was absolutely amazing. Weaving through the canyon walls on suspension bridges provides excellent views of the canyon, river and various falls. Managed to find the Johnston canyon cave but it took some serious looking! Not easy to spot but lies near the entrance of upper falls on the right. We left the canyon at around 9am and hoards of people were coming in so I recommend getting there early!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Luckily this spot is still not common knowledge to the thousands of people on the Johnston Canyon trail daily, used the directions here to find the cave easily. It was nice to enjoy our lunch and snap pictures without the elbowing up above at the upper and lower falls. There were only a handful of people hanging out around down here when we arrived. If you are hiking at Johnston Canyon, do not miss this gem!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

It is a great spot with not nearly as many people as the main falls. The instructions to get there were a little confusing . The trail to get to the Cave is on the right if you are going up and is just before the upper falls. Also, graffiti has ruined the walls on the cave. Other than that is was a cool spot and a must do if you are in Banff

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Cool little cave with great photo opportunities esp as a lot of tourists can't find this spot

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Johnston Canyon is a great hike and not a lot of people know about this spot with the cave/waterfall. If your traveling through Banff NP this is a must see stop. Without this adventure I definitely wouldn't have found it so thanks for posting!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Tiffany NguyenStoryteller

Email: tiffpenguinphoto@gmail.com

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