Our final day in Banff we were successful in getting into Lake Moraine. See previous post on our Glacier Fed Lakes here: https://workingonexploring.wordpress.com/2019/09/09/glacier-fed-lakes/ and our morning (early morning) we spent exploring Johnston Canyon. It’s always worth a hike to an end destination but it’s a huge treat to be submersed into the scenery; Johnston Canyon is a must do experience.

Abundant cascades along the trail to the Upper Falls


The half day hike would be all the way to Ink Pots.  It’s a 5.6 km (7.3 mile) out and back with 1994 elevation gain to a max elevation of 5716 feet.  There are numerous stops along the way.   The walk to both the lower (1.1 km) and upper falls (2.6 km) points have heavy traffic and is an easy paved route.

Beyond the upper falls the trail intersects with Moose Meadows trail and starts a longer climb before heading down towards the Ink Pots and meadow area.  Moose meadows trail is a great alternative starting point, especially when the crowds come into Johnston.  The parking is very full by late morning and cars overflow along the road side for quite a distance…almost to the Moose meadows turn outs.

Falls, Cascades and more Falls

The falls path was unique in that the trail had several places where you were essentially walking in the canyon along these beautiful rock walls and above the water.  

One of several canyon wall walkways along the trail

Abundant canyon views and cascades along the trek to both falls the canyon and cascades.

While the upper falls had beautifully made it’s own notch in the rock and was taller, the lower falls had an upper and lower pool; there was even a small cavern to walk up into and out the other end to view the upper pool.

Ink Pots

After the falls walk has lulled you into thinking it’ll be an easy morning hike, the climb starts and seems never ending.  Its not overly steep just long.  Mostly a silent forest view with a couple valley views as you come around the mountain, then the trail heads down and you’re greated by river sounds again. 

When the meadow valley opens up you can wander through these unique spring fed pools where spring water percolates up through the ground creating blue and green pools.  Watch for swirling circles in the sandy bottoms and air bubbles float to the surface as they move from underground into the water.  They vary in color from milky green to a deep blue based on fast they fill; the speed impacts the amount of sand and rock dust end up suspended in the water.

Break time is encouraged here! Just plop on a small bench or head down to the river edge and plop on some rocks.

Where to Next?

Lake Moraine attempt number 2 this evening. Then, we’ll head north to see the scenic Icefields parkway and relocate camp somewhere in Jasper National Park.