Johnston Canyon Trail to the Ink Pots
Directions to trail head
Hazards on trail
This trail is probably the most popular in Banff. There are a series of catwalks anchored to walls of the Canyon and viewpoints above the river and falls. I went this week to see the Ink Pots which I have never seen despite having been on this trail on countless occasions. Even on a weekday the trail to the Upper Falls is crowded. The majority of the trail is paved and has hand rails. The trail starts near the washrooms and crosses Johnston Canyon within the first couple of hundred meters. There is a giftshop, ice cream shack and cabins on the ridge immediately across the bridge. The trail heads to the right and the Lower Falls (immediately below) are only 1.1 kilometers from the trailhead. The Lower Falls are 10 m (33 feet) high and there is a tunnel at the one side that you can kneel and walk through to get a close up view and feel the spray in your face.
The Upper Falls are 2.7 kilometers further down the trail from the lower. By time you reach the Upper Falls the elevation gain is 120 meters. The Upper Falls (below) are more than 30 m (almost 100 feet) in height.
From the Upper Falls the Ink Pots are 3.5 kilometers. Only a small percentage of people continue on to the Ink Pots. The trail heads up into the forest away from the Canyon and there is only one intersection where you turn right. It is well signed. The trail is described as back country but it is as well worn as a country gravel road. The first 3 kilometers are in the forest and then the trail opens into the Johnston Valley with impressive views of the surrounding mountains and the Ink Pots which are six greenish blue pools that are filled with spring water. The Ink Pots were difficult to photograph but are worth the trip. You can see the spring water bubbling up at the bottom of each Ink Pot.
The GPS track for this hike can be downloaded via the file attached to this post. Go to the "About" page for directions prior to download or use of this data or any information in relation to this hike. Please submit your feedback and let me know your thoughts on the hike. If you have the the GPS data for other hikes in Alberta please send it along with a couple pictures to chris[at]hikealberta[dot]com.