One of my favorite trails in Banff National Park is the Johnston Canyon Trail. Josh and I had camped at the Johnston Canyon Campground, so the trailhead which is located in the campground was easily accessible to our campsite.
We started early in the morning, so we missed all the crowds that can make the trail difficult to navigate during high season. The trail travels .5 miles to the Lower Johnston Falls and then another 1.5 miles to the Upper Johnston Falls. If you want to continue past that you can reach the Ink Pots by continuing on the trail. We turned back after the upper falls for a round trip of 3 miles.
The trail to the lower falls goes quickly with much of it being a catwalk suspended on the side of the canyon. The lower falls are notable because you can view from the trail or cross the river to pass through a small tunnel in the rock to see the falls up close. It is damp with water spray and quite slippery. It is extremely cool also.
After brewing coffee at the lower falls we then followed the trail up to the upper falls. This trail has more of an incline and crosses through more lush forest. There is a series of smaller falls visible as you follow the river– each one more magnificent than the last.
The upper falls have a dramatic 131 foot drop and a viewpoint from below and above. In this area there is a constant weep of water from the canyon wall that reminded me of a smaller scale version of the Narrows in Zion NP in Utah.
The Johnston Canyon Upper Falls
As we returned down the path, we started to see the crowds that we had avoided with our early start. This is a great trail to start your day in Banff. rk