Tent Ridge East Approach
Spray Valley Provincial Park
August 17, 2013
It was an unusual summer for us because we didn't day hike in Kananaskis until August! The June floods, out trip to Yukon and Alaska, and other backpacking trips (in Kootenay and Banff) were all factors in this. It's not like we didn't get out, we just hadn't been to Kananaskis in a while.
We were keen on a moderate hike with a good view, and choose Tent Ridge as an objective. By now, most trails in Kananaskis (north of the Kananaskis Lakes) are in relatively good shape. The whole circuit along tent ridge is supposed to be about 10km with 800m or so of elevation gain to the high point on the southwest corner of the ridge.
The unofficial trailhead is along the Mount Shark Road, about 1.8km from the junction with the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail/Highway 742. There is a large grassy area on the north side of the road. About 100m further along the road is (apparently - not confirmed) the access to the western approach to Tent Ridge. About 200m back (south) along the road is the access to the eastern approach to Tent Ridge. Reading through several trail descriptions, it seems more common to go counter-clockwise around the ridge, starting on the east side.
So, after parking and donning our gear, we set off 200m south along the road to the old logging road that is the beginning of the trail. After about 700m the old road reaches an old cutblock and the trail turns uphill at a pile of logs with some flagging on it. Over the first two kilometres, the trail gradually gains about 200m (surprisingly easy) through the forest. There are a few trees down on the trail and it's overgrown in places, but more than easy to follow.
After about 2.5km, the trail enters a basin within Tent Ridge (basically, Tent Ridge is horseshoe-shaped, and the basin is closed in on three sides by the mountain). The trail meanders along a creek and through a meadow before turning east and ascending the eastern side of Tent Ridge. Again, the trail is simple to follow and surprisingly easy - I had expected it to be more technical.
We ascended the eastern side of Tent Ridge and were greeted with a wall of cloud and rain moving north along the Spray Valley. At times, we couldn't even see Mount Chester, about 8 kilometres away. We had a bite to eat and waited to see if the storm would pass, but it just rained on us. Not wanting to get stranded on the ridge in a storm, we opted to return the way we came, so we were unable to complete the loop.
In the end we had a nice hike and took some great photos, and only got rained on for a few minutes. We'll definitely be back later to complete the whole ridge, it looks like the whole circuit will be fantastic!
Trip Length: 7.3km
Cumulative Ascent/Descent: ~620m