Since this was our first time in Banff, we wanted to see all the classic lakes and views. I would highly recommend all the places we went, starting with the Tunnel Mountain Hike in the last post, Moraine Lake and Johnston Canyon in this post, and Lake Louise and my favorite, the Lake Agnes hike in a coming post. I have no doubt that when we return, we'll have a slew of new hikes and lakes to see, but this is a good starting point.
We did a quick side trip to Johnston Canyon, which was a beautiful hike, or more like a walk, along a river. The rushing water has carved deeply into the rock around it over time. There are stunning foot bridges that hug the rocks and take you high above the river at points. When you get to the falls, you can go inside a cave that has a second opening to the falls. You are so close at that point, that you'll definitely feel the spray of the falls. So much so, that it's hard to take a photo because you'll instantly get water droplets on your lens. It's extremely loud and wet and awesome. Our photos don't do it justice. Also, it's worth mentioning that this is one of the most popular "hikes" in Banff so it's not very private, but it's pretty quick and worth a trip if you are passing by.
Moraine Lake was nuts. I think the most rewarding views are the ones you have to work for, at the top of a mountain, for example. At Moraine Lake, you can pretty much drive up to the view, but it's still nuts. I wish we had time to rent those colorful canoes and explore the lake more. We really enjoyed just being still on the dock and watching chipmunks race around on the piles of logs stacked up along the shore.
On the way to these spots, we took a scenic route along Bow Valley Parkway instead of staying on the main highway. This is where we saw our first elk in an open meadow with a stunning mountain backdrop. Scenic routes are the best.
Driving back to camp that night, we saw our second grizzly bear! Perfect way to conclude a really good day.
Johnston Canyon Hike (source)
Time: 1 hour round trip (lower falls... what we did), 2 hours round trips (upper falls)Distance: 2.2 km (1.4 miles) round trip to lower falls, 5.2 km (3.2 miles) one way to upper falls
Level of Difficulty: Easy/moderate
Elevation Gain: 30 meters (lower falls), 120 meters (upper falls)
Johnston Canyon Hike