|This afternoon we drove down the Bow Valley Parkway to Johnston Canyon. We'd seen pictures of its natural paths and walkways hugging the canyon walls with the promise of a waterfall at the end, so were convinced this was a must-see stop while in Banff. We certainly weren't disappointed.
The first section of the walk along the creek’s edge took us through a typical montane forest in Banff National Park. Aspen trees, with smooth white bark and green leaves, contrast with the lodge pole pine and Douglas fir trees that have rougher brown bark and needles instead of leaves.
After ten minutes of easy strolling, the trail lead us into a young canyon, formed less than ten thousand years ago when the glaciers began to retreat from the park. The rushing water of the creek has carved down into the limestone on the valley bottom, creating a spectacular and deep canyon in a short period of time.
Throughout the canyon, intermittent layers of a harder rock called dolomite have caused a series of waterfalls, and the first one, the Lower Falls, is encountered just twenty minutes into the walk at 0.7 miles. A spectacular cascade 33 feet in height, this stop featured a viewing platform literally underneath the falls on the other side of a natural tunnel carved into the hillside by the rushing waters of an abandoned channel. We entered a small cave and were exposed to the water spray as we emerged on the other side. Cool!
This is certainly an area that shows the power of nature and time - where rushing water carved a path through the limestone canyon and potholes formed over the years from all of the plunging waterfalls.
It was really a wonderful hike and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. I highly recommend it if you are in the area. See you at Lake Montaine tomorrow....