Hiking Johnson Canyon and Ink Pots in Banff

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.

hiking johnson canyon banff

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.

hiking johnson canyon

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!

johnson canyon creek

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.

johnson canyon catwalk

johnson canyon falls

Gorgeous, right?

johnson canyon upper falls

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.”

johnson canyon ink pots hike

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.

ink pots hike banff

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!

ink pots banff

It was so beautiful with the mountains behind, too!

ink pots banff hike

Fancy a frigid swim? ;)


johnson canyon creek

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!

johnson canyon ink pots

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.

johnson canyon hike alternate route

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.

johnson canyon alternate route

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!


  1. 1

    This looks like such a neat hike!! The scenery is amazing!

  2. 2

    Oh this looks like heaven on Earth! The seventh photo from the bottom of your post is amazing. You should have it printed and framed. :) Such a gorgeous hike!

  3. 3

    I’m not a huge hiker but anything that involves beautiful scenery like that is super appealing. I have a hike planned for this weekend in Italy- it’s called the Path of the Gods and is along the cliff on the coast- should be super gorgeous views as well :)

  4. 5

    I absolutely LOVE the color of that water! I could stare at it all day and feel such peace. It reminds me of Glacier National Park in Montana, which is obviously not far from there. At Glacier, I remember standing in snow wearing shorts and a tank top. It was so surreal and so cool!

  5. 7

    Looks so beautiful! I wouldnt want to hike anything steep or slippery if it was raining but wouldnt mind walking through the forest in the rain. I love that smell too!

  6. 8

    Awww your recaps are making me want to go back in the spring/summer. We were there for skiing so didn’t get to do cool hikes but this looks awesome!!! I love the smell of forests in the rain too, there is something just magical and calming about it….Hope the recaps aren’t over yet! Can’t wait to hear more!

    • 9

      Don’t worry – more to come! :) I have 2 recaps coming next week and one final one the week after – stay tuned! I bet it was fun to be there for skiing, too – totally different experience!

  7. 10
    Roadrunner says

    Looks terrific. Incredible vistas!


  1. […] a short and very beautiful 30-ish minute drive from Banff National Park, so after our morning of hiking Johnson Canyon and Ink Pots, we decided to spend the afternoon hiking Kootenay National Park! If you’re just joining me and […]

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