Toddler Friendly Hiking in Banff National Park: Johnston Canyon (Part 3 of the Banff/Glacier trip)
Can you hike Johnston Canyon with a toddler?! Of course!! The trail to the lower falls of Johnston Canyon is perfect for family hiking. It is relatively flat and beautifully scenic. The hike was so doable in fact that I was able to wear our toddler in the hiking pack and give my husband a rest. A feat that was only accomplished twice in our ten day hike (I mean she is HEAVY!).
Lower Falls Trail
At the end of the hike to the lower falls there is a small cavern you can walk into to view the waterfall up close. I give it a “meh”. I wore our daughter into it which was a mistake. I immediately felt uncomfortable with how much head space we had and how slippery it was. Honestly, you are just closer to a waterfall and you have to wait in line so I personally would skip it.
In general, Johnston Canyon is relatively crowded, likely due to the ease of the hike. We never felt like we weren’t enjoying ourselves but I would definitely suggest getting there early or late in the day to avoid some of the crowds.
Upper Falls Trail
The trail to the lower falls covers very little elevation and is therefore the more popular part of Johnston Canyon. We decided to continue on to the upper falls and the crowds certainly wane as you hit the stairs. The whole trip took us about 3 hours (~2 miles one way) and we stopped at the upper falls to eat some sandwiches I had pre-packed.
Beyond the upper falls the trail goes to the ink pots. I had read great things about the ink pots. However, today was a hiking recovery day and we were exhausted so we headed back after the upper falls. I figure its always good to have an excuse to go back 🙂
Location from Banff
About 30 minutes from Banff headed in the direction of Lake Louise so it makes a perfect pit stop if you heading from one town to the other.
Johnston Canyon for a toddler
This is a very easy, with the caveat that your toddler is in a hiking pack. I did see families using strollers. However, there are times this would be difficulty due to crowds and uneven trails. It would also preclude you from going to the upper falls. If your toddler was walking I would be a little nervous on some of the bridge like structures plus with the crowds. So while this is a very easy pretty flat hike I definitely recommend wearing your child for your own sanity.
8/10. Johnston Canyon is a gorgeous hike and really very easy. However, it is crowded and may pose a challenge for a walker. I would strongly recommend only doing it if you plan on at least doing the upper falls add on.