Johnson Lake, Banff National Park

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Northeast of Banff (the town), in Banff (the park), you’ll find several lakes which provide everything you’ve pictured in the Canadian Rockies.  The water is crystal-clear, and jagged mountain peaks reflect in the sparkling surface of lakes like Johnson, Two Jack, and Minnewanka.  There’s quite a bit of good hiking in this area, but of course, this is winter, not summer, so just about everything changes a bit.

For starters, there’s the route you take to get here.  In warmer weather, there’s a loop road, but in winter, half the loop is closed — so unless you packed your skis, you’re going to take the lower side of the loop.  And that means the first lake you’ll reach…

… is Johnson Lake.  This small lake is located down a short side road from the loop road.  By the end of April, its loop trail (3.5 kilometers, or 2.2 miles) should be mostly snow-free.  I was a month early — and discovered the lake to be mostly frozen…

… solid enough that you could safely walk out a short distance, and make a snowman or two.

Now that I notice it, though, these snowmen were starting to lose their buttons.  Maybe spring really was starting to arrive.

You shouldn’t have any trouble getting to Johnson Lake, unless a major storm has just hit.  And once you’re there, you shouldn’t have any problem enjoying its western end — including parts of that loop trail.  The rest of the loop is probably hike-able, just make sure you have a good pair of snow boots on your feet.

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