Hike to the Johnston Canyon Cave

Johnston Canyon Trailhead

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
Show More
RT Distance 3.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 700 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Enjoy the beauty from the trail!

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.

Beautiful but leave no footprint

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.

Watch out for bears!

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!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Hike Johnston Canyon

153 Saves

Hike to the Ink Pots via Johnston Canyon

294 Saves

Snowshoe to Rockbound Lake

52 Saves