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Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots Professional Review and Guide
"The trail through Johnston Canyon may be the most popular in Banff Park. Catwalks and view platforms permit a unique variety of vantage points for enjoying this remarkable canyon and its spectacular waterfalls. A colourful tufa rock deposit, formed by dripping springs, can be seen near the Upper Falls. Johnston Canyon is one of only three sites in Alberta where black swifts have been found nesting. Heed the warning signs about slippery rock and keep to the trail. Five people have gone over the falls to their death after getting too close to the creek. The Ink Pots, seven quicksand-bottomed ponds, fed by karst springs, complete the hike."
--Don Beers, Day Hikes Near Banff (Rocky Mountain Books).
Excellent trail with variety of scenery - river, canyon, meadows and beautiful valley at the top. First part of the trail is easy going. Latter part climbs a bit but nothing too hard. Trail gets very busy during peak season later in the day. Go early or in non peak season to really enjoy the trail.
Very steep, very congested. Try to go when the busloads of tourists have departed for the high season. We have a 5 and 8 year old who are used to doing hikes and were done when we made it to the upper falls. Which are beautiful. It's a great hike but if you want to enjoy the peace and quiet of an outdoor hike, this is not it. It took us 3 hours from the start, to the upper falls and back.
I shudder to think that this is the most popular trail listed for Alberta, Canada.... Take Kathy & Craig Copeland's advice and stay off this trail during peak season / peak hours if you are looking for the best of the Canadian Rockies. Unless of course you enjoy the spectacle of busloads of tourists being disgorged and swarming up the trail. We made our attempt during the late afternoon, hoping we'd missing the peak tourist bulge, but were not that lucky... instead we were treated to the spectacle of babies' diapers being changed on the trail, purse-toting ladies knocking us aside, distracted teenagers with iPods running down the trail & falling, queues forming to see the upper falls and lower falls. This hike was the lowest point of our week-long stay in Banff. I could name dozens of other short trails that would be worthy of the #1 spot in place of Johnston Canyon. Don't waste your time unless you can get there VERY early.
Very beautiful and very congested heading up to the lower and upper falls. The falls are amazing especially walking through the cave at the lower falls and taking a face full of spray. Once you get passed the second falls most of the tourists head back as the remaining 3 km is pretty uphill. As soon as you reach the Inkpots you will be glad you kept on goin. The pools were really cool with the water precipitating out of the sand at the bottoms.
Travis & Mike
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