The hike through Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park is a gorgeous walk through a narrow canyon with intimate views of Johnston Creek before it converges with the Bow River. Expect crowds as this is a highly popular, gentle hike along a very unique trail in Banff National Park. Note that the hiking trail is open year round, so consider a winter visit if crowds are an issue for you.
Consisting mostly of catwalks built into the side of the canyon, this well maintained walkway provides excellent views of the bright blue creek below as it cascades down seven waterfalls. Several viewpoints at each falls and even a tunnel in the cliff add to the uniqueness of this hike. It's definitely a must-do for any visitor to Banff National Park.
The trail begins in a well developed area complete with a large parking lot with restrooms near Johnston Canyon Resort. This resort area was founded by Walter and Marguerite Camp in 1927. The Camps were also responsible for heading up the task of constructing the trail through the canyon with funding from the Banff National Park. The resort is still operated by the Camp Family and boasts 42 cabins, and it is a great place to stop for ice cream after your hike.
Johnston Canyon was named after a prospector who discovered gold in the creek in 1910. While you may not find any gold on this walk, you will see turquoise water below golden canyon walls topped with tall evergreen trees. The contrasting colors on this hike are like candy for the eyes. As you walk high above the water on the catwalk enjoying the sights, the soothing sound of the babbling creek with the periodic dull roar of the many falls echoes off the canyon walls.
The lower falls viewing area is multifaceted with a high overlook, a lower bridge across the creek, and finally a short rock tunnel ending with a misty view at the base of the falls. The upper falls area is nearly as dynamic and offers a lower catwalk to the middle of the creek that sits right above the surface of the water as well as a high viewpoint on top of the cliff over the falls. You can hike farther on the Johnston Canyon Trail to explore more of this section of Banff National Park, including some other features such as 'ink pots,' which are several small pools of emerald-colored mineral springs.