Johnston Canyon to Upper Falls is approximately 4 miles (6.44 kilometer) round trip heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. There are other trails that it eventually splits to, there’s Ink Pots Trail that ends up being roughly 8 miles (12.87 kilometers) round trip if I remember correctly.
You need a national park pass to get into Johnston Canyon. We were lucky enough that the Turo driver we rented the car from let us rent his annual pass for about $12 USD when it’s usually $50-$60 USD for an annual pass (rates may have changed for 2020). It’s about $14 USD per person for a daily pass which lasts 24 hour from the minute you purchase it. You can either purchase them online or at the gate. Purchasing them online would be faster as you can drive in the “pass lane” instead of having to stop at the booth to get it, but it doesn’t take too long as there’s actually no line at any of the booths.
Johnston Canyon is at lower altitude so the weather is warmer than the higher up spots like Louise and Moraine. We had just finished Moraine Lake when we headed out to Johnston Canyon (we had actually tried Johnston first, but the main entrance was closed, but on the way down from Moraine, we realized the back entrance was open). It was around lunch time by the time we got to the front of Johnston Canyon and WOW was the place packed. There were SO many families with strollers and kids. Parking was a little tough to find, but we we fortunate to have passed a car that was leaving near the front and nabbed it. The front of the trail has a little restaurant and souvenir shop. We stopped inside to take a look and grab some waters before out second hike of the day.
Minus the amount of human bodies, Johnston Canyon is gorgeous. I loved the man made trail that’s designed to scale the wall so that we get a look into the canyon and the beautiful glacier waters that roar through the valley of rocks. It’s also dressed in magnificent shades of green foliage that gives it that nice contrast. You’ll get to run past many small falls of water before arriving at a mesmerizing lower falls that has an access point to get up and personal. The tunnel is very small and only fits one person at a time, the viewing area at most 3-4 people. The upper falls is a little ways farther where you get a front row seat/photo option. But there’s usually a massive line at the view dock in front of the waterfall and to be honest, the amount of tourists there aren’t exactly the most courteous as they will just stand there taking a gazillion photos while there’s a large line of people behind them. I would definitely try to hit this place early in the morning OR in the winter, I heard the frozen view is just as stupendous to see (crampons and trekking poles may be needed in snowy and icy conditions, please check for conditions before hiking).
We managed to finish up until upper falls, and I really wanted to hit Ink Pots, but it was an additional 2 miles before we’d reach there and we didn’t have enough water (original plan was to only upper falls, but being pumped, I wanted to hike more LOL). We eventually decided against it and opted to head back. We made it down and decided to eat our lunch in front of Johnston Canyon Lodge & Bungalows that had a pretty bridge over a river for viewing.
It was a very fun hike as we crossed so many beautiful views of large canopy of trees and was always guided by the river as a hiking companion. If you’re ever in Canada, give this trail a try and hopefully be just as amazed as I was!