While most visitors to Banff National Park stop to visit Johnston Canyon and it's spectacular waterfalls a lot less venture further up the trail to the Ink Pots and the vast upper valley of Johnston Creek - and that is a shame as the area holds some magnificent views of the inner sights of Banff Park.
There are two trailheads to reach the inkpots and while a loop is possible if two cars are used it is some 4km from one trailhead to the other.
Starting from the tourist busy Johnston Canyon trailhead take in the sights of first the lower falls and then the upper falls - the trail them steepens and climbs up to a junction with a trail coming up from Moose Meadows - this is used by horses and those heading into the back country that don't want the crowds of the main trail - you will continue to climb on the trail and then drop down steeply to the Ink Pots - a series of some eight small ponds - there is a rest area and this will be the turn around point for day hikers - while the valley beyond is goregous it is a fair slog to venture much further in a day.
The Johnston Creek trail heads deep into the back country of Banff Park and is beyond the scope of this report.
NTS Map: 082O04
Elevation Gain: 243 m (797 ft).
Take Highway 1A - Bow Valley Parkway to the Johnston Canyon trailhead - and follows the trail to the inkpots - alternately - park at the Moose Meadows parking area some 4km west of Johnston Canyon trailhead and follow the trail and signposts to the Inkpots - if you have previously visited the falls or don't want crowds take this trail.
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Posted By: lgblack
- Wed Nov 24 23:48:06 UTC 2010
UpsideBeautiful views...even on Nov 14th!!! Ice made for some spectacular pictures!! Crowds were minimal due to season, and no bears!!! DownsideSaw one water bottle that was tossed down to the water....other than that, hikers have been respectful of nature. CommentLooking forward to doing this hike again - all the way to the Ink Pots - in the summer so we can view it at a different time of year. Great 4 hour hike!!
Posted By: cookiemaster
- Sat Apr 11 16:20:03 UTC 2009
UpsideIts a nice hike if you're a novice hiker, or an expert looking for a nice relaxed trek. Its uphill both ways. In the summer, you'll find orchids alongside the trail. The pools stay at a constant one degree year-round, so if you go in the winter, you don't have to worry about frozen pools (although that would be cool) CommentJohnston is extremely icy in the winter, especially in the area between the upper and lower falls - ice cleats would be helpful. This part of the hike is also very busy - thats a bad thing if you don't like crowds.
Posted By: lanis
- Tue Nov 15 23:42:35 UTC 2005
UpsideEasy Hike in the winter. No traffic. DownsideSteep in some places making a light dusting of snow tricky. CommentThis was an excellent hike in the winter. The trail was near deserted in early November. I've done this hike during the summer and enjoyed it, but the winter season made it all the better. The absence of people opened up the opportunity to rappel into the Upper falls.
Posted By: ratgurl
- Thu May 26 17:53:24 UTC 2005
UpsideBeautiful hike, and not too tough. DownsideIf you go later in the season it's packed! CommentWe enjoyed this hike, but it gets really busy, really fast and probably not the place to be if you're looking for solitude.