Snowshoeing Johnson Lake Trail in Banff National Park

Snowshoeing Johnson Lake Trail in Banff Alberta

Outdoor Winter Adventure in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Breaking Trail Snowshoeing After a Fresh Snowfall

Snowshoeing Johnson Lake Trail in Banff National Park - Finally, a good snow fall. With over 35cm of fresh snow, Banff National Park was looking like a winter wonderland again. It was time to go play in the snow. After an almost snowless winter, we were happy to dust off the snowshoes and to hit the trails. As it was our first time using our snowshoes this season, we chose a short and easy loop thinking we would ease our legs back into snowshoe shape. The Johnson Lake Trail near the Town of Banff is a short loop around the lake with minimal elevation surrounded by Rocky Mountain views. Sounds like a perfect first snowshoe excursion destination.

Happy Snowshoers in Banff National Park. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie
Johnson Lake Trail in Banff National Park. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie

Know Before you go snowshoeing Johnson Lake Trail in Banff National Park

Winter in the Canadian Rockey Mountains can be unpredictable therefore it is a good idea to do some research before Snowshoeing Johnson Lake Trail in Banff National Park.

Park Pass - A Parks Canada pass is required. The 2024 Adult Day Pass is $11 can be purchased at the Banff National Park Gates.
Trail Conditions - Be sure to check the trail conditions online before venturing out.
Weather - The weather in the mountains can change quickly. It is a good idea to check the forecast before you head out.

A Beautiful Winter Wonderland at Johnson Lake. Photo credit: Peter Guthrie

Johnson Lake Trail Description

Snowshoeing Johnson Lake Trail in Banff National Park is an easy route that loops around the lake. There are two options for the trails, one that follows along the shoreline and one that dips into the nearby forest offering shelter from the wind. On a clear day, adventure seekers will be rewarded with views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains surrounding the lake.

A small hill on the Johnson Lake Trail in Banff, AB. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie
A scenic view of Johnson Lake. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie

Johnson Lake Trail Summary

Length: 2.8 km loop (3.3km from parking lot)
Route Type: Loop
Elevation gain: Minimal, 59m
Difficulty: Easy
Time Needed: 1 hour.
Trailhead: Johnson Lake Day-use area
Dogs: Permitted and must be on leash

Our snowshoe route map. Photo credit: Strava

Breaking Trail Snowshoeing in Banff National Park

It was a quiet and snowy morning when we set out on our Snowshoeing Johnson Lake Trail in Banff National Park. There were two other cars in the parking lot at the day use area on Johnson Lake and another pulling out as we arrived. Being so close to Banff, Johnson Lake is popular for wild skating, snowshoeing and winter hiking.

We had heard that the trail can become quite packed down, however that was not the case today. Despite the other people that were visiting the area, none were snowshoeing the Johnson Lake Trail. With the fresh snow, we finally had our first Canadian winter wonderland adventure of the season. As such, we were the first to break trail after a week of heavy snow. Which is simultaneously exhausting and fantastic.

Johnson Lake Trail. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie
First Tracks on the Johnson Lake Trail. Photo credit: Peter Guthrie

Incredible Rocky Mountain Views...I Swear

Johnson Lake is surrounded by the Canadian Rocky Mountains with views of Cascade Mountain, one of Banff's iconic mountains. Unfortunately, on an overcast and snowy day like we had, there were no views to be had. Despite the lack of mountain scenery, we were happy to enjoy the beautiful winter wonderland that we had been missing so far this season. I guess you'll just have to trust me for now, that the views are worth it on a clear day. I promise.

A snowy day view of Johnson Lake in Banff. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie

Johnson Lake in the Summer

During the summer, Johnson Lake is a popular destination for picnics, hiking, paddling. Unlike most mountain lakes, Johnson Lake is also suitable for swimming. Rumor has it there is a mysterious sunken ship in the lake as well. Also, Johnson Lake is more sheltered from the wind making for a more pleasant day on the lake compared to nearby Vermillion, Two Jack and Minnewanka lakes. 

Probably Fantastic in the Summer

We haven't been to Johnson Lake in the summer yet. However, I imagine resting on the bench to enjoy the view or packing a picnic might be nicer in the summer when they aren't buried under 35cm of fresh snow. That said, I'm sure there are some hardy advenutre seekers out there that would enjoy a winter picnic in these conditions.

Johnson Lake Day Use Area. Photo Credit: Janet Guthrie
A bench lakeside bench with a view. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie

Après Snowshoeing

After spending the morning Snowshoeing Johnson Lake Trail in Banff National Park there is no better way to warm up then a good cup of coffee and some homemade soup at one of two Wild Flower Bakeries in Banff. Once your belly has been filled and your bones warmed, why not head out to explore the sights and the shops around town. If you find that you are still in need of a refreshment after all this, then swing by the Banff Springs Hotel for a cocktail at their somewhat secret speakeasy. 

Wild Flower Bakery Ministrone Soup. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie
Cocktails at the Banff Springs Hotel. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie

Getting to Johnson Lake in Banff Alberta

Johnson Lake is 10km from Banff on the road that leads to Lake Minnewanka. About 3.3km from the Highway 1 turn off take a right onto scenic Lake Minnewanka Road. Travel for just over 2km more and take a right onto Johnson Lake Road. The road ends at the day use area. 

Other Posts about Banff National Park

Eh Canada Adventure Seekers Love Banff National Park. Here are a few other posts to check out if you are planning a trip to the area.

- Peyto Lake
- Banff Snowdays 2024
- Take a Drive Along the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park

A Map of the Sites near the Johnson Lake Trail. Credit: My Google Maps.

Where to Stay in Banff National Park

On this trip we stayed at a boutique motel in Banff called The Dorothy Motel. It is a charming 3-Star motel near the start of Banff Avenue in the Town of Banff. We really enjoyed this motel and will likely stay there again the next time we are in town. 

The Dorothy Motel in Banff. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie
Rooms at the Dorothy Motel. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie

Snowshoeing in Banff National Park is an Iconic Winter Adventure

Snowshoeing Johnson Lake Trail in Banff National Park is an easy trail around the lake known for its great winter wonderland views. We are looking forward to exploring this area when we head back to Banff this spring.

Johnson Lake Trail Snowshoe Adventure in Banff National Park

Outdoor Winter Adventure in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Travel Guide

    • Hotel or Motel
    • Winter Attraction
  • Banff
  • Alberta

Canada Parks

  • Canmore
  • Alberta
    • National Park
    • Washrooms
    • Snow Shoeing
  • 2.8km and 1.7mi
  • Easy - Family
  • Year Round

Location (Map)

Johnson Lake, Improvement District No. 9, AB T0L, Canada
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Comments 2

Greg Girard on Monday, 25 March 2024 05:16

Such an under rated activity. So good to get outside in the deep snow. Glad you had a chance to go and thank you for sharing.

Such an under rated activity. So good to get outside in the deep snow. Glad you had a chance to go and thank you for sharing.
Janet Guthrie on Monday, 25 March 2024 13:24

Thank you. It was really nice to get out snowshoeing and to have lots of snow to enjoy it with.

Thank you. It was really nice to get out snowshoeing and to have lots of snow to enjoy it with.
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Tuesday, 21 May 2024

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