Located on the Minnewanka road loop, a breezy scenic ride with picturesque view of rich vegetation, rugged landscape and glacier Lake, Johnson Lake is the place to go for a cold swim and picnics.
The lake is a magnificent body of still water snuggled among some of the oldest firs in the whole of Alberta. Although it is not as large as the nearby Lake Minnewanka, Johnson Lake features Banff’s only beach.
THE LAKE TRAIL
To appreciate the diversity of the ecosystem here, you must take the Johnson Lake trail.
The trail is a 3.5 km (2.2 mi) kilometre hiking trail with little elevation gain, but lots of pleasures. The lake trail is relatively flat and scenic. Here, you will experience breathtaking views of Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle. The circuit trail begins from the parking area and leads to the majestic lake .
If you choose to go counter clockwise, you will approach a small bridge that runs over a glorious creek that runs down a rocky canyon to the water tower. The forest trail is an interesting walk beneath trees and bushes while taking in crisp clean air. You can better enjoy the views of Cascade Mountain, if you do the trail counter clockwise. You may also get to see wildlife (year round) and purple calypso orchids in May. As you hike the trail you will see rope swing nestled amongst the trees and an old abandoned cabin of Billy Carver, who here for around 27 year’s from 1910.
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There used to fish in the Lake, but they were killed last year(2017) to prevent disease spreading. It might return in future.
The trail is open throughout the year; there is enough fun on the snow or in the sun. During the colder months, the surface of the lake gets frozen. The lake trail and the nearby roads become a cross-country ski circuit and a delightful place to snowshoe.
By late May(the trail is often snowfree by late April), the snow clears and summer fun begins. This is the time to jump into the glacier lake for a swim or to just lay on the beach. Many people also enjoy kayaking and canoeing.
Little known is the rope swing located at far south side. To reach the swing go past the lake over the bridge or look for people jumping into Johnson Lake.
BOATS and SUP BOARDS
Try paddle boarding or enjoy boating here. You can rent these from Banff Canoe Club.
WHEN TO VISIT
The water is cold, so visit during July/August for a little more comfortable water temperature for swimming.
The trails are snow free by Late April, Early May.
HOW TO GET TO JOHNSTON LAKEFollow the Lake Minnewanka Road from the Trans-Canada Highway 1.0 km to the Lake Minnewanka-Johnson Lake road split. Turn right and continue 3.7 km to where the Johnson Lake side road.
Public Transit Accessible. The Minnewanka Route 6 will travel from downtown Banff to Lake Minnewanka via the Lake Minnewanka Road and will stop at Johnson Lake Road.