I’m back with another Canadian hiking vacation recap! This one is all about hiking Johnson Canyon and Ink Pots in Banff National Park. Want to see our full itinerary? Check it out: Western Canada Hiking Trip Itinerary. Previous recaps: a weekend in Vancouver + hiking Lake Louise in Banff National Park.
Johnson Canyon is one of the most popular and busiest hikes in the Canadian Rockies. With this in mind, I’d suggest you aim to hike this trail first thing in the morning. We were up and out early to make sure we got there before the hordes arrived, and it was really worth it – there were hardly any people around when we started the hike. I believe we arrived around 8 a.m.
The trail begins immediately behind Johnston Canyon Lodge, and after a short climb through the forest you emerge on catwalks that snake along Johnson Creek. This was really cool – such beautiful views of the rushing water the whole way!
Don’t be fooled by the fact that it is called a ”creek” – many waterfalls await.
After 1.1km, you’ll reach the lower falls – there’s a cool vantage point for the above view if you don’t mind getting a little wet – we didn’t! 🙂
Then, it’s back to the catwalks! There were a lot of great viewpoints as we made our way to the upper falls, which are at the 2.7km point.
After reaching the upper falls you can either turn back or carry on toward a less traveled portion of the trail to a destination called “Ink Pots.”
It’s about another 3km from the end of the Johnson Canyon trail to Ink Pots, which are seven cold mineral springs in an open meadow beside Johnson Canyon Creek.
That’s one of the ink pots below – beautiful color, huh? Fun facts: the ink pots have a constant temperature of 4 degrees C (roughly 38 degrees F – brrrr!) and their basins are composed of quicksand!
It was so beautiful with the mountains behind, too!
Fancy a frigid swim? 😉
We hiked around on some small trails just past the ink pots (backcountry basically) before settling in for lunch on some benches back by the ink pots – nice place to stop!
It was early afternoon by the time Matt, Melli, Moritz, and I left Ink Pots; we knew the Johnson Canyon catwalks would be mobbed so we took an alternative route through the woods back to the main parking area. Highly recommend doing this – the forest was beautiful and basically empty! Much more pleasant than fighting the crowds.
It started raining while we hiked back, but it was actually kind of magical in the forest – doesn’t it look beautiful and mysterious? The rain made all the trees smell really fresh, too – I love the smell of the forest when it’s raining or has just rained.
Rainy selfie FTW! Missing you, Melli! (I love my Marmot raincoat – have had it for ages.)
I wish I could spend all day every day hiking – this trip was totally my happy place. Reliving it through these recaps makes me wish we could go back already!
Do you mind hiking in the rain? I kind of enjoy it so long as it’s not too cold and we’re not on rocks/areas that get dangerous and slippery!