Dramatic Aerial Views from Tent Ridge’s Horseshoe

Avatar

Tent Ridge Trail

Dramatic Aerial Views from Tent Ridge’s Horseshoe

Distance
10.9km round trip

Trail type
Loop

Elevation
2535m

Level
Hard

The Hike That Has It All

Spanning views of the Assiniboine region, Spray Lake, the Kananaskis area and southeastern Banff National Park, the Tent Ridge Trail highlights grand forest, mountain and valley views from the ground and the sky. The looping horseshoe ridge reveals scenes unlike any other summit. With the best seasons hiked from June-October, the plenitude of sloping mountain peaks wear varying shades of aspen and larch forests throughout the year. The 4-6 hour hike is for experienced hikers that love challenging terrain of elevated scrambling, technical sections, steep exposures and ridge walking. Boasting big climbs and descents, epic views and a weather station landmark, Tent Ridge Trail combines all of the scenery and grit of hiking you love within a day trip.

Where Is It

Leaving Calgary, use HWY 1 to reach Canmore. From there, take Spray Lake Rd (742) by driving past the reservoir. Shortly after, on your right locate the Mount Engadine Lodge. Turn at the lodge and continue driving until you see a roadside with a parking lot able to fit no more than 15-20 cars. With the drive, heavy traffic seasons and the 4-6 hour hike in mind as well as breaks and photo time, planning to hike as early as you can is recommended. The Tent Ridge Trail begins at the end of the gravel parking lot. An unmarked trailhead lies along Mount Shark Road. Take a right into the line of trees that converge into a noticeable trail from the open base. The right trail will have you hiking Tent Ridge in a clockwise direction, an easier route for the trail’s steep and rocky descents.

Trail Highlights

The trail begins with a trek west and increased elevation. Less than one mile in and mountain peaks reveal themselves from tall pine trees. Take a right at mile 0.7 as your steady climb continues, noticing the blue-mirrored lakes making an entrance. Continue south as you pass a snow-fed creek flowing generously from the Tent Ridge runoffs. Monica Basin offers access to the summit through a sweeping, silent meadow that often bathes in sunlight. The flat, grassy ground offers an excellent resting spot before a thrilling climb.

The ridgeline narrows out and is easy to follow by keeping to the trail that provides the easiest access across the rocky, elevated plain. Reaching the summit requires tough climbing and class 3 scrambling. Hiking poles and microspikes will help you stabilize yourself on potential muddy or sleek rock. This is the hardest part of the entire loop, but the views afterward prove the incline to be worth it. The top of the ridge levels out into a narrow trail that curves around the lakes and valleys below – the Tent Ridge Horseshoe. The clouds hug the blue horizon as mountain peaks become mountain valleys of looming, jagged teeth that harbour shimmering blue lakes and masses of pine trees and rolling hills.   

Your first summit is marked by a weather station located on the outpost of a tiny, rocky summit watching over Tryst Lake to the south. The path along the ridgeline is visible from the weather station. Take a break to refuel as you try to count all of the mountain peaks stationed throughout the yawning expanse of nature’s vibrant colours. 

Continue climbing to the Tent Ridge summit – the true summit. Your scrambling skills may come in handy again as you navigate the left slope for some purchase. Not to be outdone by the previous views, but Tent Ridge summit displays the sweeping beauty of nature in a panoramic mosaic of mountains, lakes, forests and paths. Seriously, our description can’t do it justice! The marine blue Spray Lake looks small compared to the towering rock giants. The summit provides another resting place and great photo opportunities. Walk along the ridge to meet the third peak. Spray valley views become closer as you realize you may have just seen the views of five hikes in one.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mona Salas (@yogi.in.black)

Return Trip

As the ridge of the horseshoe levels out into a descent, continue down the mountain. Taking the most visible track, you may lean off of a marked trail due to a large amount of loose scree. Take your time and use your hiking poles. At the bottom of the mountain, a crossing path will indicate the trail back. Hiking back through the woodland, the narrow path juts out into a wider trail. Keep right at this junction to reacquaintance with Mount Shark Road. The trailhead to the parking lot is south of this trail.

Tips

  • Tent Ridge Trail can occasionally be closed due to bear activity, bring bear spray, know how to react, and remain with a loud group. 
  • Prone to avalanche hazards, Tent Ridge Trail is not suitable for winter hiking. 
  • Due to its scrambling and steep exposures, this hike is not recommended for children and dogs. 
  • Before you leave, check the weather pattern and trail reports
  • Ensure you pack a shell outer layer as the exposed summits can be windy.
  • A hiking guide is recommended. Gillean Daffern’s hiking book Kananaskis Country Trail Guide Volume 1 is available online, at Mountain Equipment Co-op and through Indigo. 
  • Having passed Mount Engadine Lodge on your drive to the trail, stop by on your way home for braised bison short ribs, fish tacos, roasted Canadian lamb loin and sponge cake!