Monday, June 23, 2014

Hiking Up Johnston Canyon... Awesome Trail

On our return trip from Alberta and the CUC Homecoming weekend we stopped in Banff and did the Johnston Canyon hike. For years we have just sped past and said, "someday we'll have to hike there." At last we make good on that commitment.

In addition to the two major waterfalls, there are several smaller falls along the trail.

I was surprised to see snow and ice along the canyon walls in several places.

The entire hike follows along the water's edge... and the path built to accommodate the hikers was over the top incredible.

Extensive work was expended to drill into the canyon walls and then install steel cantilever beams...  to which handrails were welded and concrete precast sidewalk sections were installed.

This was one of the smaller waterfalls along the way.

It didn't take long at all and we came to the "Lower Waterfall."

There were placards along the trail... and often they had quotes by Wallace Stegner... which is one of Shirley's favourite writers... so I included several of them just for her.

"I was fascinated by how it sped past and yet was always there; its roar shook both the earth and me." -The Sound of Mountain Water, Wallace Stegner

"By such a river it is impossible to believe that one will ever be tired of old. Every sense applauds it."

"Watch its racing current, its steady renewal of force: it is transient and eternal."

"I gave my heart to the mountains the minute I stood beside this river with its spray in my face and watched it thunder into foam..."

"It was pure delight to be where the land lifted in peaks and plunged in canyons, and to sniff air thin, spray-cooled, full of prime and spruce smells."

As we got near to the Upper Falls we came upon this newest bridgework... expanded metal deck with much the same kind of construction as the rest.  It was much nicer than the precast concrete slabs... and likely much easier to put in place, considering that it had to be transported  a mile and a half up the trail.

The Upper Falls were truly awesome... a worthwhile reward.

"... the whisper of blown and scattered spray gathering itself and beginning to flow again, secret and irresistible, among the rocks."

"As the roar of the river fades, tune in to the more subtle voices of the forest: the wind in the trees, the twitters overhead and the rustles at your feet."

"Although you have left the creek below, you can still feel its influence. The canyon's cool, damp air fills this forest and shapes the life around you."

This hike is right up there on the list of the Ten Best Hikes This Year for us.  It doesn't get much better than this.


  1. Pa -- now you need to start a hike leaderboard so you can rank your hikes! Ha.. Stegner quotes and construction details are nice mix, definitely.

  2. I came across your post as I was trying to find one of the quotes I had seen this past weekend when I did this hike for the first time ("I gave my heart to the mountains..."). While I had thought about the pathway as I walked, it was interesting to me just now to read your thoughts on it. Great pictures as well, take care. - Jos