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TRAVEL: Sneak a Peak into Johnston Canyon

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With its year-round accessibility, easy terrain making it family-friendly and suitable for people of almost any age or fitness level, relatively short time commitment required, and its stunning vistas, Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular hikes in Banff National Park.

— and this status is not without merit. Johnston Canyon is one of those ideal hikes where the entire journey is as striking as the destination.

The 5.2 kilometer hike is a combination of well-maintained trail and canyon-clinging catwalks that follow along Johnston Creek. 
The catwalks provide a birds eye view of a canyon that would otherwise be exclusively a climber's domain.  
The crystal clear waters below are a brilliant shade of turquoise.
... and depending on the time of year, you'll be treated to several hues of the famous Alberta wild rose along the trail.
The hike to the Lower Falls is 1.1 kilometers and only takes about 30 minutes. A bridge crossing provides a picturesque viewpoint; however, a tunnel in the canyon bedrock at the other end of the bridge places you on a platform up close and personal with the thundering water.
 Beware — You will get misted, but it'll be worth it.

Carry on another 1.5 kilometers to reach the Upper Falls, and you'll encounter this remarkable set of cascades along the way.
At some point along the trail, I noticed the extraordinarily tall, thin trees surrounding us swaying in the wind, and when we stopped and paused, you could hear the trunks creaking as they rocked back and forth.
(This simply wouldn't be a Homesick Wanderlust blog post if I didn't mention my love affair with trees.😊)
You hang in there, and keep fighting the good fight, trees.✊😌
The trail is fairly shady and can be quite chilly even in the warm summer months, so dress in layers or make sure to bring a jacket. Don't let goosebumps put a damper on your adventure!
Allot yourself roughly 2 to 3 hours to complete the hike, and try to plan your trip for the early morning or evening to avoid the afternoon crowd. The trail wasn't terribly busy the afternoon we went, but the parking lot was full and cars lined the highway leading up to the trail head.
We got lucky that the forecasted rain dissuaded others from making the drive out to the trail head and then held out just long enough for us to make it back to the parking lot.

The trail is a fairly leisurely stroll. I mean, I did do the entire 5.2 kilometers in flipflops. In the interest of full disclosure, the shoe choice wasn't intentional — I didn't realize that I wasn't wearing my hiking shoes until we'd walked too far for my stubborn self to turn and walk back to the parking lot to swap them out. In my defense, when you live in a travel trailer full-time, flip-flops basically become an extension of your feet.
I wouldn't recommend it, though, and I wouldn't do it again if we were to return. The trail was a bit muddy and the catwalks were fairly slippery in places due to recent rain — and perhaps more importantly, you'll unwittingly invite everyone that passes to voice their opinion about your shoe choice. Don't be like me. Save yourself several footwear related conversations. Wear hiking shoes.

Roughly a half an hour from the Lower Falls, you'll reach the Upper Falls. A catwalk leads to a viewing platform at the bottle of the falls. 
Unbeknownst to us at the time, you can reach a second viewing platform overlooking the Upper Falls and the gorge below if you hop back on the trail and follow the steep incline to the top of the falls.
 
I'm always bummed to learn details about places we've visited after the fact, no matter how small — so learn from our mistakes and check out the view from the top of the falls!

Have you visited Johnston Canyon? Share your captures with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #HomesickWanderlust.


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