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Ink Pots Hike


  • Ink Pots



  • December 15, 2018



  • Ed, Jace, Geoff, Lynn, Craig, Janet, Dave, Lorna, Eldon




  • we took the Moose Meadows trailhead which is 4.8 km east of Castle Mountain Junction and 1.4 km west of the Johnston Canyon parking lot
  • we came in from the 1A highway a few km’s past the Norquay/Banff turnoff which we find to be a more scenic drive than going all the way to Castle Junction on Highway 1
  • coming in from this parking lot is much less crowded than the Johnston Canyon parking lot although you forgo the beauty of the canyon and ice falls
  • you need to pay attention to the trail markings as it crosses a road partway up the forested section and then hooks up with the Johnston Canyon trail where you need to turn left (uphill)


Degree of difficulty:

  • 548 meters elevation
  • 12 km round trip out to the Ink Pots and back
  • 3-4 hours total time on the trail
  • moderate climb most of the way with no excessively steep sections
  • the majority of the climb is in the second half of the ascent as the first half winds it’s way gradually uphill thru the forest
  • the last half kilometer to the Ink Pots goes downhill after cresting the ridge so you need to save some energy to climb back out of the valley on the return voyage
  • there was a light dusting of snow, so half of us donned the snowshoes and half had the grippers with the gripper crowd winning out as the snow was packed down all the way




Interesting notes:

  • I have been trying to get my dog to wear some booties to keep her feet from clumping up with snow, and it has been a challenge
  • I picked up some new booties that from Snowy Owl in Canmore that the sled dogs use and the rear ones stayed on the whole way but the front ones did not fare as well so this is still a work in progress
  • there is not much of a view until you crest the hill and descend into the valley although the forest offers its own serene beauty
  • the valley is very wide open offering great views of the various peaks
  • the five Ink Pots have varying degrees of colors but are better viewed in the summer as they were partially covered with snow
  • there are small benches around the Ink Pots which makes for an enjoyable lunch rest stop