Tag Archive | Alberta

A Hidden Gem – Johnson Lake, Banff

The best places are always the ones that only the locals know about. Those secret spots that allow you to connect with a location at your own pace without a crowded tour bus in sight!

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Johnson Lake is one of those local’s spots that is just a 15 minute drive from Downtown Banff. Tucked away down a 3km paved access road, Johnson Lake is often overlooked by its more accessible neighbours – Two Jacks Lake and Lake Minnewanka.

Beyond its 360 degree mountain vistas, Johnson Lake is popular amongst the locals for the diversity of outdoor activities it supports in all seasons!

Winter Snowshoeing & Skating

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When the snow settles, the 2.5km circular walk around the lake makes for some ideal snowshoeing.

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With a relatively gentle gradient and minimal elevation gain the terrain is family friendly, while the views of Mt Cascade and Mt Rundle are spectacular!

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If skating is more your thing, the frozen lake offers some excellent free ice skating! Just check out how thick the ice is first though!

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Spring Hiking

When the snow melts the circular trial makes for an excellent and easy short hike. You can even bring your dog (must be kept on a lead). Note mountain biking is prohibited.

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You can show your true local’s knowledge by hunting for the Hermit of Inglismaldieè’s Lodge. Billy Carver built the cabin in 1910, living as a recluse for 27 years! There are no signs so it is a true treasure hunt! Hint: it’s on the south side of the lake!

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Summer Swimming

Of all the lakes in Banff National Park, Johnson is the warmest for swimming, and our favourite “sport” of floating. However, be warned that even the locals turn up in their hundreds on a warm summer’s day so best to arrive early or ride your bike!

The summer also makes for some epic sunsets!

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Fall Paddling

The changing colors of the trees make Johnson Lake an idyllic time to visit with your kayak, canoe or paddleboard in Fall!

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Whatever the season, join the locals and plan a trip to Johnson  Lake to capture a taste of Banff National Park!

A dog’s review of the Sundance Canyon Trail, Banff

Hi, my name is Molly the Dog and I am a guest blogger on West Coast Discovered. I was inspired by the twitter work of the Banff Squirrel to tell you about one of my favorite hikes in Banff, the Sundance Canyon trail.

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Getting There

As I don’t live in Banff, I am usually reliant on my human family to drive me to the Cave and Basin car park. I don’t mind riding in the trunk as I get more room that way to stretch out. I have heard it’s a good idea due to some complaining at the front of the car to get there reasonably early on a weekend as parking can be a bit harder to find!

Facts

  • Half-day trip, allow 4 hours (the humans slow me down)
  • Distance: 4.2 km one way to the start of the Canyon and then whatever you want to walk in the Sundance Canyon
  • Moderate elevation gain: 145 m with a maximum elevation of 1545 m

The Hike

This is one of my favorite hikes as it has lots of different highlights – many Rocky mountains, lakes, the Bow River, waterfalls and  of course the Sundance Canyon!

  • 0 km: You have two choices at the start of the hike, follow the pavement from the Cave on Basin centre, or take the more rustic trail from the base of the car park. I prefer the dirt path as it is better shaded and you are more likely to meet some horses from the Warner Stables – I love to track them! There is also a boardwalk for fishing and bird watching, where I have to be very quiet or I get told off! You might also get to meet some local residents, although I found the squirrels to be quite protective of their trees!

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  • After a 1km or so you end back on the pavement and follow the Bow River. This is my favorite part of the walk, not only for the stunning Rocky mountain scenery but because I can go for a quick dip in the glacially fed water to cool down while the humans take photos of the sharp peak of Mount Edith. Stand back when I get out though, I do like to dry off by soaking everyone within 6 feet of me! #MollyWaterBomb

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  • After 2.5km you head away from the river and start a gentle climb up to the Sundance Canyon about 1.8kms away. I spend most of this part of the route enjoying the smell of the wildflowers which line the banks! There are also some fancy pit washrooms and a picnic area for the humans.

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  • After 4.3km you will reach the start of the Sundance Canyon. There is an interesting sign that tells you about how it was formed. There is also a bike rack for those who don’t like putting their feet on the ground. After this the fun starts! You get to clamber up rock steps and explore the waterfalls of the canyon as well as cross a few wooden bridges.

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Add Ons

  • Sundance Canyon Trail Loop: After you have explored the canyon you can spin 180 degrees and head back the way you came or choose to carry on and complete a more challenging loop (makes the hike 12km all in) which leads to a ridge and then a walk back through the forest to join the main trail 3.3km out from the car park.
  • Marsh Trail: To keep things interesting, I like to take this 1.6 km trail on the way back as it runs along the banks of the Bow River to the marsh and then turns right at a junction and crosses a dyke to return to the Cave and Basin parking lot. There is a small beach which is great place to take another dip and bark at passing canoes!

DSC05980You also get 360 degree views of the Bow Valley from here too!

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Top Tips

  • Watch out for horse riders – they have their own separate trail but I don’t think they are as well trained as me! Never seen a horse do a high five or a spin for a biscuit!
  • As a dog I have to be kept on a lead which is not great but I guess it stops me chasing squirrels or getting myself into trouble with a Grizzly bear!
  • The Bow River is pretty cold – I reckon only dogs can handle it!
  • There are a few bugs around given the proximity to the wetlands – bring spray but keep it away from me!
  • The Cave and Basin had a good café selling ice cream #hint

Happy exploring my canine and non canine friends!

Molly the Dog

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