Johnston Canyon (Banff National Park): Trail Report

Johnston Canyon (Banff National Park): Trail Report

This extremely popular hiking spot offers upper and lower falls through the canyon, however once you start hiking towards the ink pots the crowds significantly diminish. The ink pots, and the valley, are in my opinion, the wow factor on this hike.

Suggested Stops

Time with timings, we rushed out of Johnston Canyon and straight to Rocky Mountain Bagel in Canmore to fuel up properly before heading to the airport. Ugh, this place is good. And now they have a second location in Canmore! Actually the growth in Canmore year to year blow my mind. I don’t think everyone’s fave little mountain town is going to ever be small again. Condos sprouted up, the Grizzly Paw Brewery, Beamers Coffee, and Rocky Mountain Bagel opened multiple locations…growth baby. Thankfully it still has a small town vibe.

Important Insights

Extremely busy during peak hours (after 9am) and during good weather days.

Land Acknowledgement

These are the lands of the Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), Ktunaxa ɁamakɁis, Stoney, Tsuu T'ina, and Michif Piyii (Métis) people.⁠ It is important as avid hikers and stewards of the land, to acknowledge and understand the full story our surroundings along with the people that care for her, both past and present. As sourced from, if there are corrections please send to

Land Management

Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park is managed by Parks Canada.

GPS Coordinates

51.245650168828924, -115.8398762437151

Street Address

Bow Valley Pkwy, Alberta T1L 1K2


17.8 kms on the Bow Valley Parkway (west). It’s a short 25km drive from Banff. Once on the Bow Valley Parkway, abide speed limits and keep an eye out for wildlife. This time around we saw a herd of elk and I’ve seen bears on previous trips. Parks Canada were out at 10am helping direct traffic and parking, we arrived at 6am avoiding the crowds and any access issues. The tour buses usually arrive around 9am.


Large parking lot at trailhead.

Cell Reception



Washrooms available at the parking lot.


Yes (for a portion of the trail)

Trail Details

Entrance Fee

Hours of Operation

All seasons. Open dawn to dusk daily.

Trail Map

Available from the Parks Canada.


Located at the parking lot.

Number of Trails


Total Distance (km)


Elevation Gain (m)


Cell Reception






Permitted on-leash

Trail Description

The trail itself is well maintained and can be broken down into three sections. First section up to Lower Falls is a mix of wide dirt path and concrete trail with mild elevation gains. Continuing on to Upper Falls is much of the same with slightly more elevation. It is worth it to keep going the 100m past the Upper Falls lookout to see the falls from the top view.At this point is the junction to head towards the Ink Pots. The majority of the crowding on busy days ends here, with the majority of the visitors only coming to seen the canyon and falls. The Ink Pots however are housed in a breathtaking valley, an absolutely gem to behold so keep hiking! 2.5km to the upper falls and another 3.1kms to the ink pots (one way). Only 1.1 kms to Lower Falls on a well established hard packed pathway and then another 1.4kms to Upper Falls. Admittedly I’ve never been to the Ink Pots! Only ever to Upper Falls. The trail to the Ink Pots feels never ending, mostly because there are no trail markers once you turn on this section. The first half of this portion is uphill followed by a significant descent into the valley. This means you’re hiking uphill both ways, ha ha, like those “when I was a kid we walked to school in 10 feet of snow, uphill, both ways” stories your parents tell. We heard a lot of “how much further?” and “is it worth it?” from hikers coming in as we were hiking out. Yes, it is worth it. In my opinion anyways, take a look for yourself. All the posts I’ve read previously on Johnston Canyon were right, the Ink Pots are neat but really valley view as a backdrop is really what makes it a spectacular spot!

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