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Tent Ridge is one of our favorite hikes in the Kananaskis area! It’s an 11km loop trail that is both challenging for beginner hikers and difficult enough for those with more experience. This hike has it all, from ridge walks and forest trails to scrambling up rocks and sliding down snow. To top it all off, the views from the summit are absolutely breathtaking.
Time Required: 4-5 Hours
Location: 100km west of Calgary
Distance: 11km round trip
Highest Elevation: 2540m
Elevation Gain: 615m
Difficulty: 7/10 – Scrambling in areas, snow most of the year.
Season: June to October
Additional Requirements: Snowshoes potentially
From Canmore: Take Smith-Dorrien (Hwy742) south from Canmore for 35.5km. There will be a turn off to your right for Mt Engadine Lodge. Turn right and follow this road for 1.8km. Follow the road past the Lodge and at 1.8km you will see a parking lot on your right.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable Footwear:Hiking shoes.Make sure your shoes are broken in prior to tackling this hike to prevent unexpected blisters. You could get away with running shoes but having extra grip on the rock surfaces will definitely come in handy!
- Water:This hike requires some effort to reach the summit.Be sure to bring enough water to stay hydrated. A couple liters per person minimum.
- Snacks: Bring some of your favorite snacks to enjoy along the hike as well as a light lunch for when you arrive at the summit. Some of our favorite snacks are trail mix, bananas, beef jerky and licorice.
- Weather appropriate clothing:This hike is very exposed as most of the ridge is above the tree line. Check the weather forecast and dress appropriately.
- Sunscreen:If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
- Insect Repellent:Insect repellent can greatly improve your hiking experience.
- Bear Spray:You are in bear country. Always hike with bear spray that is easily accessible.
- Camera:There are numerous photo opportunities you won’t want to miss.
- This Guide:Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike
Wildlife:You will be hiking in bear country. It is always advisable to check in at the local Visitor Information Center to learn of any trail closures due to wildlife. Carry bear spray in an easily accessible location. Travel in groups of multiple hikers and make lots of noise to avoid an unexpected encounter.
Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
- Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
- Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
- Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
- Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.
To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit http://www.leavenotrace.ca
Summary: Tent Ridge is a loop that can be completed in either direction. Our recommendation is to begin at the more southern trailhead and complete the loop in a clockwise direction. We believe this direction provides the easiest route and best views!
There are two trailheads for this hike that are both accessible from the parking area (Route marker #1 on the map). The trailhead farthest to the south is our recommended route as you get the best views of Spray Lakes when traveling the ridge clockwise. The beginning of the well beaten trail from the south trailhead is quiet and easy to follow. You’ll remain in the thick forest for about 45 minutes before you cross a creek and the trees open up into a big meadow. From here you will see the entire horseshoe of Tent Ridge.
After you cross the creek and get a nice panorama view of Tent Ridge, the trail veers off to the left (east) and through a little bit more forest. Once you cross the tree line, you will ascend up some scree and have to scramble up a few ledges. This part is challenging as the elevation seems to keep going and going. Be cautious in the early and late summer months as ice can build up on rocks and it can be dangerous. If it’s unsafe, do not proceed.
Once you reach the top of the ridge, follow it south to the weather station (Route marker #2 on the map). Be cautious as there are some narrow portions of the ridge with exposure on either side. Take your time on this section while enjoying the stunning views to the East. The weather station is a great spot to stop for a snack break and shelter yourselves from the wind if needed. From here, you can see the route you’ll follow, along the ridge, for the rest of the hike.
From the weather station, continue along the path to the west that heads downward and then up to the highest point on Tent Ridge (Route marker #3 on the map). At the Summit, you’re treated to 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and lakes. From the summit, follow the ridge North towards Spray Lakes. The view of the lakes as you traverse the ridge is an absolute highlight!
At the end of the ridge (Route marker #4 on the map), you’ll turn right and head down into a path through the forest cleared by a large avalanche. When we hiked this trail in June there was lots of snow so it was difficult to identify the trail. If you cannot find the trail, follow the avalanche’s path where the trees have been cleared until you reach the lower forest. Once you reach the lower forest you should be able to pick up the trail that will take you northeast back to the parking lot.
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Have fun out there!