During our recent trip to Banff, Canada we wanted to be sure to take advantage of Canada’s celebration of their 150th year anniversary. Canada was offering free admission into all of their National Parks so of course we had to take advantage of that! Amanda had a business trip in Alberta and so I met her for a long weekend following her work commitments – one of our favorites ways to balance travel and career. After a quick two hour drive from the Calgary airport, we arrived at Johnston Canyon. We were excited to get out of the car and begin our hike to see the falls while enjoying the picturesque landscapes.
Upon parking in the Johnston Canyon lot, then walking across a small pathway and bridge, you will arrive at the head of the trail. At this point, you can start to think about the hike you will take. Good thing is that both trails start at the same point. We began with the “short” hike to the Lower Falls and decided to “see how we felt” once the end was reached. At this point, we would decide if we wanted to continue on to the Upper Falls.
*Tip* Bring a bottle of water. If you don’t have one, there is a small shop/restaurant at the head of the trail. Here you can grab a quick snack before or after your hike. Also maybe a pick up a little souvenir.
As we began our journey, we quickly realized this would not be a strenuous hike. The pathways were clear and well marked. We could tell the paths were cleared regularly and maintenance was done often. No need to prepare in advance for this hike. All you will need is a bottle of water and your camera!
Now we started the hike to the Lower Falls and every step of the way was another scene more beautiful than the next.
We quickly realized it wouldn’t be the trail that would hold us back as far as timing goes, but it would be the amount of times we stopped to take pictures!
“Ohh let me take your picture there”… Then, “Now let me take one of you that way”!
We continued on our photo hike to the Lower Falls stopping along the way until we finally made it to the end point.
As we reached the Lower Falls, we decided it would be a great time to take a picture together. We didn’t bring the tri-pod on the hike, so now we were left with a common delimma. As I’m sure you have encountered, this is the worst part about visiting anywhere with another person.
What random stranger do I trust to take our picture based on looking at them for two seconds then the process begins:
A – Hand them our DSLR camera and hope they work it correctly with little instruction
B – Trust that they won’t drop the camera or try to run off with it
C – Get our heads in the shot with the back ground we are there to see
Not bad for a random…
Now that we had the Lower Falls shot, we decided that it would be a good idea to continue on to the Upper Falls.
Again, this continued our beautiful hike through Johnston Canyon. We had many stops along the way as we hiked along the water. Part of hiking to the Upper Falls includes some time in the woods area of the park away from the water. We didn’t see any wildlife here, unless you count some of the other hikers on the trail!
Although the woods seemed a little boring at times, there are bends and turns that lead to an opening where an amazing scene was waiting for us.
We reached the Upper Falls in about 20 minutes from the time we left the Lower Falls. We did stop along the way and take pictures and were not hiking fast at all. We took our time and enjoyed the hike.
We finally arrived at the Upper Falls! There was a long path way down to the base of the falls to take in the magnificent view. Will we get wet? Will we even be able to take pictures? All of these thoughts were running through our heads as we approached the bottom of the platform.
Then we saw it…
The Upper Falls was about as exciting as the dirt path through the woods to get there. It must have been the fact that there was still ice and snow out, but it was pretty lame. The best part about the Upper Falls was not the falls at all. We did a 180 degree turn and saw the area around the falls was spectacular!
High Walls of rock and trees far above our heads!
Overall the hike was worth doing. It was a great chance for us to get out of the car and take in some fresh air and a little exercise. If you are short on time or just don’t like to hike, the Lower Falls are worth it. It’s a quick one hour round trip hike to the Lower Falls. If you have more time, the Upper Falls trail is great as well, just don’t expect any great falls when you get to the end of the trail. Both trails are considered scenic hikes and provide a lot of opportunities for pictures along the way. Don’t miss a stop at Johnston Canyon during your next trip to Banff!
Pin this resource for later!