Tent Horseshoe Ridge is one of my favorite hikes in all of Alberta. Just an hour’s drive from Canmore in the Spray Valley is this beautiful loop trail. It’s the perfect hike with amazing views of the surrounding mountains and lakes.
In summer you’ll find wildflowers and bird watching. If you’re looking for a quick, but moderately difficult hike Tent Ridge is a must-do. Let’s dig in with all the details.
How Long Does the Tent Ridge Hike Take?
Tent Ridge Horseshoe is a 10-kilometer loop trail. We are reasonably fit but by no means the fastest hikers in Canmore. This trail took us about 5.5 hours, with LOTS of photo stops and a lunch break near the satellite tower. If we weren’t taking any photos or video (or waiting around for the sun to get lower), we should have been able to do this loop hike in four hours.
How Hard is Tent Ridge Trail?
Although AllTrails rates this as hard, I would put it slightly above moderate (and I am no expert hiker). There are a few steep pitches that will have you panting, but I believe the real reason it’s rated as hard is because of the scramble up (or down depending on which way you go), from the ridge. I saw all ages of life on this trail, the scramble was slightly exposed, but not too sketchy.
Which Way Should I Hike Tent Ridge?
Since this is a loop trail from the parking area you have two ways you can begin your ascent. The most obvious one is to the right of the parking area, because it is more visible from where you park. This will take you up a steep climb, and you’ll move counterclockwise on the ridge, ending with a steep scramble down.
I do not recommend going this way and walking to the left of the parking lot until you find the trail and going clockwise for two reasons. Number one, then you just have the steep scramble up, and not down, making it much less scary. Number two, because once you summit the ridge you’ll have breathtaking 360° views of Spray Lakes for the remainder of the ridgeline.
When Can You Hike Tent Ridge?
This trail would be best between April and October, though I’ve seen photos in the winter and the images are gorgeous. Just make sure you have gaiters, crampons, and poles if you decide to do a winter hike.
We hiked this trail on Canada Day weekend (July 1st). There were a few spots with slushy snow, but for the most part, it was a dry trail. It’s still the mountains though, and the weather changes rapidly. When we started this hike, it was a bright sunny day. When we reached the top of the ridge it was snowing, and the wind was howling, no views at all.
Then as we walked further along the ridge the clouds passed and the sun made a wonderful appearance again. Make sure that you’re fully prepared for any adventure out in the mountains or you’ll have a miserable/dangerous time. See our hiking gear recommendations at the bottom of this post.
How Busy is Tent Ridge Hike?
We set out for Tent Ridge on a beautiful Friday afternoon. When we reached the car park there were about 10 other cars parked. We passed maybe 20 people on our way up, they were all hiking counter-clockwise direction – the one I don’t suggest going.
Towards the end of the day, we found a few people who just came up for sunset, but not to hike the whole loop – and one trail runner.
AllTrails rates this as a heavily trafficked trail, but compared to so many more in Banff and Kananaskis I would say this is a moderately trafficked trail, and you’ll have plenty of space to enjoy nature.
What About Dogs and Kids on Tent Ridge?
Most of the trail is moderate, but as mentioned before there is a steep scramble either up or down. Only experienced trail dogs should tackle this, and young children should be left at home.
Wildlife Awareness On Tent Ridge
If you’re on any hikes in Kananaskis you should practice proper wildlife awareness. In the region, there are frequent sightings of black bears, grizzly bears, moose, coyotes, and cougars. They all a potential threat to humans and we should reduce our impact on their natural lives.
Before any hike or walk in Banff National Park or Kananaskis Country, you need to have bear spray. Remember that the bear spray is worthless if it’s in your pack, you’ll need to be able to grab this in two seconds or less in an emergency. We wear our bear sprays on our hip.
When you’re on the trail make noise by banging hiking poles, talking, whistling, clapping, or singing. This is particularly important around blind bends and corners, which there are many at the start and end of the Tent Ridge hike.
You’re through the deep woods during these times, and it’s prime time to sneak up on a bear. Once you’re on the ridge, you’re safer as you can see wildlife from afar, but still, don’t let your guard down and keep the bear spray on you just in case.
As always while hiking you need to stay alert, travel in a group, mind children and pets, and finally carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it. If you’ve come to the park without bear spray Valhalla Pure Outfitters in town sells spray and holders with employees who will demonstrate how to use properly.
What To Wear On A Day Hike?
The most basic principle of what to wear hiking is layering. Anyone that has spent time in wilderness or mountains can speak to the fact your temperature can fluctuate a lot on a hike. With Tent Ridge, in particular, it was sweltering while working our way through the woods at the bottom, and then cold and windy at the top. I was thankful for my windbreaker and down jacket.
The goal of hiking clothing is to help regulate your body temperature, element protection, and moisture management. Temperature management is best done through a layering system if you want to learn more about what to pack for a day hike or what to wear on a hike, you can see our full post!
Here is exactly what we took on this hike.
Fjallraven’s Keb Pant
Our favorite pants for rough hikes and climbs are Fjallraven’s well known Keb pants. Fjallraven’s Keb pants are a mountaineering staple with tough materials and excellent temperature management.
The active panels and a. These are, without a doubt, my favorite pants to hike in the Canadian Rockies. If you think it’s going to be a cold day you can easily wear long johns under these as well.
Outdoor Research Shirt Echo Series
I have six Outdoor Research Echo shirts and rotate them on all my hikes. They are lightweight and moisture wicking. Seriously, you don’t want to be stuck with a cotton shirt while hiking it traps all your sweat and then when you get cold it becomes a problem.
Outdoor Research shirts provide full coverage with their long sleeve collections, but you won’t get hot under the sun. These shirts are built with UPF sun protection, AirVent™ moisture management, and ActiveFresh™ odor control technology.
We always have a down jacket with us on every single hike. It’s a just in case jacket that I usually end up wearing when I reach the summit, and it gets cold. Down jackets pack up light and small so there is no reason NOT to have one in your bag.
Seriously it could save your life in a bad situation. We wrote a whole post on our favorites.
We always carry a water-resistant shell jacket on hikes in the mountains. You never know when inclement weather is just around the corner. We have never regretted having a jacket in our packs. It’s a piece of clothing that is lightweight and could save your life.
We wear a wide range of hiking jackets dependent on style and objective. To learn more about our favorites jackets check out our article.
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