Johnson Lake provides an easy, scenic snowshoe in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
The Johnson Lake hike or snowshoe is an easily accessible, short 2.8 KM (1¾ mile) loop around a popular lake and picnic area south of the west end of Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake. The trail is relatively flat and scenic with a few dips to negotiate along the trail, but elevation differential is marginal at about 20 meters (66 ft).
The Johnson Lake parking area is accessed via the Lake Minnewanka exit from the TransCanada Highway, in Banff National Park, on clearly signed road to the east and past the Overflow Campground for very popular Two Jack Lake Campgrounds.
The trail can be traveled in either direction. This days choice is counterclockwise with a short walk from the parking area downhill to the little bridge over a picturesque creek which continues down a wide canyon to the water tower. There are three, bilingual, interpretive plaques at the bridge which briefly discuss the unique nature of this fragile wetland area.
Scenery is spectacular as the forest trail, along the south side of Johnson Lake, occasionally flirts with adjacent clear-cut beneath power lines. At the far end of the lake a trail map identifies optional routes around Johnson Lake. The majority stick close to the scenery near lakeshore.
The snow-covered berm at the east end of the lake leads past a trail junction into a restricted wetland area. Continuing to snowshoe the largest dip on the trail arrives at the demarcation point to trail along the north side of Johnson Lake. Warm sunshine balances a gentle, cool breeze.
Trail quality deteriorates where snow pack is diminished by sunny warmth currently leading the race to Spring against winter snowfall, but sheltered path has adequate snow cover. It is obvious that many people choose to return on the surface of the frozen lake.
This trail is very popular and weekend traffic has obscured established trail. By sticking close to the scenic lakeshore, a major trail junction is missed which leaves me stranded on a peninsula above the impassable watercourse which feeds Johnson Lake. A short backtrack through forest locates the short, slippery and steep decline to the small bridge over the stream. From here the trail options are clear for return to the Johnson Lake Parking Area.
Johnson Lake is a brief winter interlude within amazing scenery. Mount Rundle, hovering over Canmore, is prominent from the north shoreline. Tunnel Mountain and Cascade Mountain to the west are prevalent as well. Johnson Lake is a beautiful place to enjoy a picnic lunch and get a bit of exercise in clean fresh air surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery.