“Your breath hangs in the cool early morning air as you walk along the trail winding gently through the trees. You can already feel yourself being calmed, immersed in the deep green and stillness of the woods. Rounding the corner you catch your first glimpse of the canyon and hear the sound of the rushing creek. It is a powerful feeling to stand in the midst of this place, the steep walls of the canyon jutting high above you and the deep blue pools of the creek far below.” –http://www.banfflakelouise.com

This description couldn’t be more accurate for Johnston Canyon Trail. When we planned a day trip from Calgary to Banff we wanted to find a unique hike. We landed on Johnston Canyon which is about 30 minutes from the town of Banff. We arrived early as the parking lots at the trail head fill up fast. The weather was a crisp 40 degrees and there was no one around, we had the trail to ourselves. The hike to lower falls begins through the lush forest before reaching the steep limestone canyon and it’s magnificent catwalks. We reached the lower falls and crossed the bridge running in front of it for a better view. There was a small cave that allows you to get right up next to the falls so I of course had to venture inside. I had to slightly duck as I entered the cave and held onto the walls so I wouldn’t slip on the limestone floor, wet from mist. I stepped up and out the other side of the cave and found myself standing feet away from the roaring falls. We stood for a moment just taking it all in, enjoying the rush and the mist on our faces before heading back to the trail to continue to the upper falls. The photos don’t do it justice, every moment of this hike was absolutely breathtaking and unlike anything I could have imagined.

After our beautiful hike in Johnston Canyon, we drove over to Lake Louise. Since we arrived later (9 am) there were a lot more people at the lake but we were able to park in the overflow lot and hike the short 15 minutes up to the lake. The hiking trail is across the street from the parking lot and follows a little creek. El was wide awake for this adventure having napped through most of the hike that morning. As we came off of the trail and made our way to the lakefront we were taken aback by the jaw-dropping beauty of the scene unfolding in front of us. The lake glowed turquoise, contrasting beautifully with the mountains and glaciers surrounding it.

Quite possibly the most beautiful lake we have visited so far. Since it is glacier fed the water is cold all year and not great for swimming, but you can rent these beautiful red canoes and venture out on the lake. There are also some amazing hiking trails that wind up to Lake Agnes Tea House where you can enjoy a delicious snack and the stunning views.

The color of the water is different depending on what time of year you visit due to the rock flour carried in the glacial melt that trickles down to the lake. The sun reflects off these particles, refracting blue and green wavelengths of light. We happened to visit in August and not only was the weather perfect but the water was stunning.

For more details about Banff and the Fairmont Banff Springs be sure to check out my post Banff National Park



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