We love exploring our backyard! And by backyard, I mean Banff National Park 😉 Living in Calgary, Banff National Park is an easy 1 hour drive away.
This summer we are exploring new hiking trails that can easily be conquered by families, even with toddlers in tow. When we explored the Johnson Lake Loop Trail last week we accidentally found a secret swing! The spot of this swing is highly instagrammable, so I thought to share the location here. Because sharing is caring! 🙂
Johnson Lake is located inside Banff National Park. Both the Apple Map and Google Map apps can take you there.
We view Johnson Lake as the less popular sibling of Two Jack Lake. Johnson Lake also has a bigger parking lot and more picnic tables compared to the popular Two Jack Lake.
Getting to Johnson Lake in Banff National Park from Calgary will take about an hour and a half of driving. From the parking lot, the trail is accessible within a 2 minute walk.
During the busy summer season, specially on weekends, get to the parking lot as early as 8 am! We went to Johnson Lake twice in the past couple of weeks and always got there early enough to still have a lot of spaces in the parking lot open. If you arrive later than 9 am it might be tough to find a parking spot.
Johnson Lake Trail is a 3.1 kilometer loop trail that circles around the lake. We consider this trail easy and is suitable for all skill levels. Our 3 year old navigated through this trail with no problem.
All Trails app marks this trail as kid friendly and stroller friendly. Kid friendly definitely but stroller friendly should have a disclaimer on it.
If you have a single jogging stroller, then yes it would fit through the entire trail. It might not be easy pushing it through the inclines but at least it fits. Double strollers on the other hand would not be a good idea because there are parts in the trail that are too narrow. We took our Costco wagon for Kenzie to ride on and we had to fold it when walking on some parts of the trail.
Hiking The Trail
We began hiking the trail on the farther portion from the parking lot. From the parking lot stairs, go straight, then cross the bridge. You will see two picnic tables, this is where the trail begins.
If we are going to do this hike again, I would prefer to start the same way. This puts the secret swing towards the end of the hike, which is a good incentive for our kids to keep on walking. LOL However, if you’re on a do it for the ‘gram hike, start the opposite way. Begin on the trail to the left of the parking lot. This puts the secret swing just at the start of the trail.
The trail offers a lot of amazing views of Johnson Lake with the mountains as backdrop. So bring your DSLR and tripod if you’re an avid photographer.
It took us about an hour and a half to complete the loop trail. But keep in mind that we took a lot of stops for photos and just goofing around.
Where is the swing?!
After crossing a bridge and taking several photos on benches facing the lake, we walked through a very narrow trail on the hill on the side of the lake. Be careful! This is the part that I mentioned where the double stroller will not fit. Even a single stroller will be a tight fit.
At the end of the narrow trail, it forks into two directions. At the time we hiked, our only choice was to pick the trail to the right. Parks Canada was helping people follow social distancing by making some of the parts of the trail one-way only.
Taking the trail to the right, took us atop the hill – which is where the secret swing is! If we went to the left trail, we would have missed the swing.
If you did your hike the opposite way, it is so easy to miss the swing too! At the point where the trail forks in 2 – the right trail goes on the side of the lake, the left trail goes up the hill. Take the left trail. At the top of the hill you’ll see the swing.
The swing faces towards the incline portion of the hill – so it’s a bit frightening because you feel like you’re falling downwards while swinging. I don’t think I did justice to the views in my photos because I was scared of letting the kids go.
After spending some time on the swing and playing in the clearing up the hill, we went down the trail that passed through the marshy area. Not muddy or wet, just surrounded by lots of greenery and water. It also wasn’t slippery.
After about 10 minutes of walking, you’ll see picnic tables again, and you’re back at the start, near the parking lot.
Johnson Lake is popular for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and just being lazy on the water. So make sure to bring swim suits with you because it’ll be hard to keep the kids out of the water! Specially if you go on a nice summer day.
Enjoy your hike friends!