Johnson Lake, Banff National Park


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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