The popular hiking trail through Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park was closed for almost a week while Parks Canada crews conducted a risk assessment and removed up to 30 trees in the area after a young boy was critically injured when a tree fell last Thursday (July 9).
Parks communications officer Christina Tricomi said the tree dislodged and fell onto a section of railing along the Johnston Canyon trail, injuring a nine-year-old boy. Parks visitor safety specialists responded with Alpine Helicopters and transported the youth to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital before STARS air ambulance transferred him to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary in serious, life-threatening condition. Reports indicated he was in stable condition as of Friday (July 10).
According to an emailed statement from Tricomi, Parks began conducting a hazardous tree assessment along the popular hiking trail, and the trail was closed until further notice.
“Parks Canada cannot speculate on events pertaining to how or why the tree fell before an assessment is completed,” she said.
On Tuesday (July 14), Tricomi said in an email Parks was still conducting repairs at Johnston Canyon.
“After the tree fell on Thursday, Parks Canada assessed the trail for other trees that might post a safety risk,” she said. “As a result, 20 to 30 additional trees were removed on Monday (July 13). The felling of those trees resulted in further damage to railings or boardwalks, which will also have to be repaired.”
While other hikes were recommended for visitors while the trail was closed, on Wednesday (July 15) Tricomi said via email the trail has reopened.
Further details as to the specific nature of the hazard found thorugh the risk assessment that resulted in the removal of the trees was not provided to the Outlook before press deadline.