The secret Cave

The cave is a not-so-secret detour from Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park. It’s not even a real cave but an overhang which is deep enough that one can take a picture which makes it resemble a huge cave entrance. It’s obviously been around long before the official trail was created but it’s only become popular over the last year or two due to social media. In fact, it’s become so popular that Parks Canada had closed the area during the summer of 2018 to protect some species of birds. 

Distance :  5.2km

Max Elevation : 1566m

Elevation Gain :  20m

Total Time :  1:30

Although I’ve hiked Johnston canyon around a dozen times in total, I only became aware of the cave when a celebrity I followed posted a picture on social media. I immediately did my research and visited the area in mid August. After some trial and error, I finally found the trail but to my dismay, it was closed off to the public due to some nesting birds.

I knew the birds would be long gone by mid December so I decided to revisit the area. My partner for this day was Yuki.  

After a leisurely 12:45pm departure from Canmore, we started our hike at shortly after 1:30pm. Having bought a new pair of hiking crampons the previous day, I was excited about trying them out. Unfortunately, there was around 5cm of fresh snow on the trail which ended up balling up on the crampons. This forced me to stop on a regular basis to shake off the accumulated snow.

Despite the late departure, there were hardly any crowds at the parking lot and on the trail which was good because we didn’t want anyone seeing us duck into the side trail and follow us down. 

Upon climbing down into the cave area, we were a little disappointed to find a group of people lingering about. However, they probably sensed this as they promptly packed up and left the area to ourselves. The area was quite amazing but didn’t compare to the pictures I’d seen from the summers where the foliage and river add to this monotone scene.

After taking countless pictures, we noticed a couple coming down through the forest so we gave them the same courtesy by leaving the cave to themselves.

I’m pretty sure I won’t be back this winter but I’ll definitely return early in the summer because I have a feeling this area will be permanently closed off in the near future. If not for the birds, for the overuse of the area which will undoubtedly lead to trail erosion, garbage, graffiti, etc.

The day ended with some take out at Alberta Wing shack. But before that, I got another chip in the windshield! It’s quite frustrating because the rock that hit my windshield was more of a pebble than an actual rock. It’s the second chip and we aren’t even into winter. I’m really hoping it’ll last until the spring but at this rate, I may have a dozen cracks by then!

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