The Secret Cave at Johnston Canyon - Our Search for this Hidden Treasure

(We were lucky enough to have found the secret cave before Parks Canada closed the unofficial trail to protect nesting birds in the area. Please respect park regulations and do not attempt this trail as it has been closed as of August 2018)

IMG_20180729_113448.jpg

Getting There

We took the same direction as we would when you go to Johnston Canyon. The Johnston Canyon trail is open all year round. We opted to go in the summer around July 2018. It is a busy month so we left early to avoid the crowd. When we got to the parking lot - it was packed. Got there around 8:45am and had to park along the road as the designated parking lot was already full.

Lex go Hike Experience

The path to the secret cave is unmarked. We were patient enough to check out a few dirt trails to find this hidden treasure. We recently found out that they have closed this trial. Allow me to share our experience with you.

Johnston Canyon.PNG

AddressBow Valley Pkwy, Improvement District No. 9, AB T1L 1K2

Most of the tourists would visit Johnston Canyon only until the lower falls. After you pass lower falls the crowd gets lesser. However, this is not the case all the time so be mindful of the high season and summer months.

IMG_20180729_112519.jpg

To get to the secret cave, we followed the same route to Upper Falls. After passing the Lower Falls we kept our eyes peeled for the dirt trail that leads to the hidden cave. We tried a few off-track trails and found smaller waterfalls. There we plenty of good quiet spot if you want to unwind with nature. Our friends gave us a tip to watch out for a sign that  says “Lower Falls 505m, Parking 1805m, Parking 1920m ( pointing back to Lower Falls) and Upper Falls 925m, Ink Pots 3970m ( pointing towards Upper Falls) .” Once we saw this, the turn off was right before we reach the green railings on a cemented road.

We were also told that once we reach the green railing towards the Upper Falls viewing platform it means we passed the exit. I remember the search for the right path to the hidden cave was very exciting. We were very alert  of our surroundings trying to look for that popular rock formation. We also listened to the water. We know that the cave is right beside a waterfall so that was one of our biggest clue. Follow the creek. Once we saw the turn off, we hiked down on a steep slope to get to the river. It is not super high but the trail can get muddy and slippery so we were very careful as we traverse down.

IMG_20180729_114025.jpg
IMG_20180729_114951.jpg

I did not take picture of the exit because as much as I want to share this place, I still love the mystery of finding it for yourself. It’s like a scavenger hunt.You would appreciate it more when you look for the clues and stumble on other small treasure along the way before finding the grand prize. Once we got to the cave there were a few people but there’s plenty of room to share. I stood under the cave - it is actually a half cave and admired this beautiful rock formation. I could not believe we found it! The rock formation is really captivating. It is tilted sideways due to the impact of the water from the creek carving the bottom of the cliff. We stayed for a little bit to explore the area and take a few pictures. The cave have some graffiti on it. It shows that this place is not that secret anymore.

IMG_20180729_113758.jpg

We walked behind the small waterfall beside the cave. I stood there for a few minutes digesting the experience. It is my first time standing behind a waterfall. Such surreal feeling looking at a gushing waterfall without getting wet. The sound of water flowing is very relaxing. It is quite a mystifying place.

IMG_20180729_114542.jpg

There are plenty of beautiful  spots along Johnston Canyon that you can enjoy and they are far less crowded. You can easily chase waterfalls all day in here.

important

(We were lucky enough to have found the secret cave before Parks Canada closed the unofficial trail to protect nesting birds in the area. Please respect park regulations and do not attempt this trail as it has been closed as of August 2018)