Johnston Canyon - 2.4km to upper falls (Easy)

Author: Sarah Thacker

This blog post was going to have a very different name, photos, and level of epicness but weather conditions and a healthy dose of fear changed our plans a weeee bit.

We arrived in Banff Friday evening and camped at Two Jack Main Campground for two nights. One day I dream of camping at Two Jack Lakeside but we did stop at the Two Jack Lake picnic spot during our trip, which was absolutely beautiful. Hopefully Braedyn will throw in a nice photo below!

We had planned to hike Ha Ling Peak on Saturday. When we woke up Saturday morning it was raining... like it had been all night. We ate breakfast in the cook shack, met a very nice couple from Chicago who we would later run into, packed up, and headed for the Spray Lakes Area. To get to the trailhead you have to take a gravel mountain road which was definitely passable but required driving slowly and avoiding large rocks and giant puddles in the road. We parked in the Host Creek Parking Area and started up the Ha Ling Peak trail.

Looking up at Ha Ling Peak. This was after the hike when it started to slightly clear up

The trail is only 3km one way but gains ~740 m of elevation over that distance. Needless to say we were huffing and puffing on our ascent. The trail was totally socked in with no views due to heavy cloud cover and rain. I didn't feel too sad about the lack of views because it was a cool experience hiking through such heavy cloud.

Already nervous about the inevitable scramble to summit, I wasn't liking the wet, slippery conditions. We probably got a third to half of the way up before I couldn't take it. So, we turned around!

Further along this kind of slick rock became the whole trail

We decided to join the hordes of tourists at Johnston Canyon. A much easier, but still very cool trail. We hiked about 1.2 km to the Lower Falls, which has a cool tunnel you can walk through to get up right next to the falls (if you do this, wear something waterproof).

Another 1.2 km takes you to the Upper Falls. I liked the Upper Falls better as there were fewer people and there is an awesome walkout to view the falls up close. Honestly the only problem with this hike is the number of people (we were here mid afternoon). However, this hike would be great for a family or someone looking for a non-technical stroll as it is paved most of the way. The 2.4 km hike to the Upper Falls gains a bit over 100 m of elevation. (Braedyn Comment: From the upper falls you can continue to the ink pots. They make the total distance out around 5km)

The upper falls from the top viewpoint

The day didn’t go as expected but it was great nonetheless! I hadn’t been to Johnston Canyon since I was a kid, and as an adult I still really enjoyed the hike.

The only tiny waterfall that Sarah allowed a tripod to be used for the photo