dip in the ink pots.

i’m really missing the mountains today. so much so, i’m scheming to get out to the foothills tomorrow before work just so my soul gets a little piece of them. baby hikes still count as long as you’re in nature.

a few weeks back i took off to banff after one of my saturday shifts to hike johnston canyon to the ink pots.


if i can give one piece of advice, it would be to always hike with someone who has an interest and talent in taking great photos. even better if they know a thing or two about hiking.


thankfully my friend scott is both a photographer and a hiker. i hit the nature companion jackpot.

johnston canyon can be really busy to the lower falls since it is a flat, well manicured trail that is a kilometre from the trail head. there are boardwalks built on the side of the canyon that bring you straight to the first lookout point. you’ll often encounter tourists, baby strollers and wheelchairs. the path really isn’t wide enough for them in my opinion, but that doesn’t stop anyone.

from the lower falls, you then take a series of stairs and switchbacks another 1.5km to get to the upper falls. it’s not accessible for strollers and wheelchairs, but it’s still not too difficult so you’ll find a good amount of traffic.


from the upper falls, the ink pots are another 3 km up a moderate incline of switchbacks. the crowd really thins out here, and allows you to enjoy the hike and nature with your company.

we had both done johnston canyon to the lower and upper falls, but scott had never continued the hike to the ink pots, and i had only done it once before – two years ago when i was rather out of shape and my dad left me to huff and puff while he ran up the trails.


the majority of the trail to the ink pots is in the forest, but opens up into a gorgeous meadow housing the eight pools of blue/green water.

i’ll be honest with you: the ink pots are underwhelming. they sound fantastic don’t they? these magical pools of stunning coloured water? yes, they are pretty, but they are also smaller pools that can be murky or colourless.

what isn’t underwhelming is the meadow. the river runs along side the ink pots and you look out to a gorgeous mountain range.


i could have stayed in that meadow for hours looking out on the mountains. my heart is so happy in the mountains.

we stopped on a bench for a quick break and snack before heading back down before the sun set. it’s the same way down as it is up, so we took in the same scenery, but stopped at the falls for a few photos and said hello to the chipmunks and pikas we ran into.


i also forced scott to take this graffiti photo. peace and love and mountains.

it’s worth the 12km return hike as long as you keep your expectations low surrounding the ink pots.

photos by scott martin.

have you ever hiked johnston canyon or the ink pots?