All About The Tent Ridge Hike

The Tent Ridge hike is a relatively easy hike in Kananaskis Country that delivers extraordinary views without a huge amount of effort.  This hike, also referred to as the tent ridge horseshoe as it follows a horseshoe-shaped loop along the ridge, is likely one of the best hikes in Kananaskis and is well worth your time.  The trail follows an open ridge which means you have fantastic views for almost the entire duration of the hike.  It belongs on any hiker’s bucket list, read on to learn more about hiking Tent Ridge.

The Tent Ridge Hike in Kananaskis
The Tent Ridge Hike in Kananaskis

Tent Ridge Directions

Tent Ridge is located in Spray Valley Provincial Park, part of Alberta’s Kananaskis Country.   Getting to the trailhead from Calgary will take about two hours of driving.  Turn off Spray Lakes Road at the Mount Engadine entrance.  Keep right, towards Mount Shark, cross the bridge, and drive up the gravel road.  Set your trip odometer and park on the side of the road where a path enters the trees, just under 2km from the Engadine turnoff.  If you see the Mount Shark helipad you’ve gone too far.  Beware that Spray Lakes Road is unpaved and notoriously bumpy full of pot-holes, but hey, that means less crowds, right?

spray valley views on the tent ridge hike
Views of the Spray Valley opening-up

You’ll see a trail entering the woods on the left and most likely, several other cars parked along the road.  This is where you’ll start your hike.

When to Hike the Tent Ridge Horseshoe

Tent Ridge is in its best condition for hiking from June to October.  The Mount Shark area is higher elevation than much of the surrounding Rockies so the snow typically takes a bit longer into the season to melt.  If you hike Tent Ridge early in the season there may be some lingering snow.

Wildflower season or larch season would be a particularly great time to hike Tent Ridge, but you wouldn’t go wrong hiking the ridge at any time during the summer or fall.

Tent Ridge is also a popular destination during the winter, especially for backcountry ski touring.  If you do plan to winter-hike Tent Ridge or ski it you should have avalanche safety training as the ascent does follow avalanche paths.

About the Tent Ridge Hike

The hike is about 10km car to car, with approx 700m elevation gain.  Round trip, Tent Ridge will take most folks between 4-6 hours depending on your pace.

meadow on the tent ridge hike
Monica Meadows a short distance into the Tent Ridge Hike

Starting at the road, you’ll first hike through the forest for about 45 minutes before reaching Monica Brook meadows.  From the meadow, the trail veers to the left and up the side of the ridge.  Flagging typically marks the turn-off although the trail is relatively well defined.  From this point onward the views begin to open up and once you reach the ridge the rest of the hike is spent above the tree-line, enjoying panoramic views of the Spray Valley.

At points, there is some moderate exposure and a handful of sections that may require easy scrambling, but overall it’s not a difficult hike and most folks with some previous hiking experience won’t find it to be exceedingly challenging.

tent ridge horseshoe
Hiking the ridge

Just after you reach the ridge you’ll find a weather station which is a great spot for a lunch break and to admire the views.  At this point, you’ve completed the most challenging part of the hike and have earned your views.  Hopefully, you’ve packed a camera because the scenery as you hike the ridge is spectacular.   From the ridge, you’ll enjoy views of the Spray Lakes Reservoir and surrounding peaks, including Mount Assiniboine in British Columbia.

Towards the end of the ridge, watch for a path on the right that heads back towards the treeline.  Descend that path and once you hit the forest it’s an easy path to follow back to the car.   If you finish early enough, consider a stop in at Mount Engadine Lodge for their infamous High Tea which runs from 2-5pm.

tent ridge view
Tent Ridge, worth it.
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