Johnson Lake loop is a family favourite for its spectacular views of Mt. Rundle and the Cascade Mountains.
Johnson Lake is found in the lower elevation Montane eco-region, which takes up only 3% of Banff National Park and provides important vegetation for elk and other large animals. It is an easy hike that starts at a sandy beach with a lake that is fun, but cold, to swim in.
There are two other reasons why we love Johnson Lake Loop.
This trail is a great snowshoeing trail in the winter.
An aside from being a great trail for most abilities, Johnson Lake has a sandy beach with stunning mountain views.
The water is not glacier which means it is not freezing cold making it a great mountain lake to swim in on a hot day!
In the winter, this lake becomes frozen and the locals shovel skating rinks!
Make sure the lake is frozen, skate at your own risk, and make sure to practice water safety. Red Cross has some great ice safety guidelines around ice skating on wild ice.
Note: Alberta lakes have been struggling with Whirling Disease.
Paddle boats are allowed but you must get an inspection first before bringing the boat on the lake. Inspections can be done at Lake Minnewaka Inspection Station.
Make sure to wash your boat before and after taking it into Johnson Lake.
This trail, along with many other trails, can be found on our new app TrailCollectiv!
We have detailed descriptions on the app with special notes for families.
It is like my hiking guide book “Hikes for Families: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies” that I published in 2020 except we are working with the TrailCollectiv community and adding in new trails everyday!
Download the app on the Apple Store or on Google Play here.
Hiking Johnson Lake Loop in Banff National Park
In the summer, pack beach towels, sunscreen, and bathing suits. Johnson Lake is a great place to hang out after the hike.
Difficulty: Easy (Moderate for small kid and some ability levels)
Distance: 3 km (1.8 mi) loop
Elevation: 50 m (164 ft)
Hike Highlights: Lake, Sandy Beach, Mountain Views, Bridges,
Facilities: Outhouse, Beach, Picnic Tables
Optional Gear: Carrier, Snowshoes, Paddle Boats, All-terrain single stroller* Wheelchair friendly*
TrailRider Rating: Moderate*
Take the Trans Canada Highway AB-1 W to Lake Minnewanka Scenic Dr/Range Rd 115B Rd. Instead of taking the left turn into Banff, turn right on Range Rd 115B. Then turn right on Lake Minnewanka Scenic Dr and follow the road until you reach Johnson Lake Rd. Drive on Johnson Lake Rd until you reach the parking lot.
From the parking lot, walk straight towards the lake. Stay to the right and walk over the little bridge beside the beach to start the hike.
At the start of the trail by the bridge, there are interpretive signs that highlight the Montane zone and the important role that wildfires play in preserving the area.
After crossing the bridge, follow the trail closest to the water for the shortest loop and the most views of the water. There is a slight incline in the trail before the trail rolls up and down. Around the halfway mark, cross a short bridge and finish the loop.
*Only part of the trail is single all-terrain stroller friendly and TrailRider accessible.
I wrote a book!
Want more hikes like the ones listed in this post?
Buy the paperback book Hikes for Families: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies here.
Purchase (Ebook) Hikes for Families: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies here.