I have to admit; the only reason we ever did the Tent Ridge hike is because I gave us the completely wrong driving directions to a different hike that got us lost. The time of the day was getting late, and we decided to just find any hike. Luckily as we pulled into the area where the trail head is, another car behind us pulled in, and the fellow hikers gave us a quick run down.

Tent Ridge is the perfect introduction to ridge hikes for those who haven’t done one before, and are ready to conquer it. You want to make sure you have some hiking experience, and are comfortable in all terrains. In any case, add it to your do-to list!

This hike offers some of the best views out there, in all 360 degrees, and you wouldn’t want to miss them.


Getting There

Tent Ridge trail head is on a road just off highway 742 aka the Smith Dorrien Trail that is accessible behind Canmore or from Highway 40. It is about half way in between either way, and just past the Spray Lakes if you come down from Canmore. Google maps has it correct. You will be parking on the side of the road just as you drive up. If you drive to far up where it looks like there is much more parking you will miss the clockwise entrance, and will have to walk down (not a big deal).

The Hike

The actual ridge is the shape of a horseshoe. In other-words; it is hikeable from either side. If you going to take/remember one thing from this article: make sure you hike it clockwise!!! Counter clockwise will be a brutal hike. To the point that I would have probably not even bothered to do it.

When you park you will see a trail into the woods on the left, across the road. That is the clockwise route. For the next hour or so you will be hiking through the forest with a slight elevation gain. There was one fork in the road that got us briefly confused – stick to the right, and go into the woods.

Soon enough you will be coming out of the woods, cross a stream, and you will find yourself in a basin with the whole Tent Ridge horseshoe visible. You might even see people on it. The trail will continue to the left via a short switchbacks section to the start of the scramble up to the ridge.

This is the part of you will encounter most of the elevation but the scramble it self from a technical perspective it is not that bad. Take your time, safety first. From this stage on you will be exposed to elements; account for weather. It can get super windy, snowy (slippery), and very hot summer time with nowhere to hide. On this section of ridge you will find a weather station, and probably the best place to stop for a lunch/break.

The trail down from the weather station section will take you down a scree, and a shorter scramble up to the highest point of the the Tent Ridge hike. On your left you will see Shark Mount among other peaks as far as the eye can see. This is a glimpse of it:


From this point you will start going down in elevation, and around the ridge. The path keeps going between a good trail, and rocks/boulders – pay attention to your footing. Your neck will get a workout as you looking at endless panoramic beauty all around.

You about to realize why hiking Tent Ridge counter-clock must be avoided. Descending a very steep scree full of switchbacks is needed to get off the ridge, and back into the woods. Take all the time that is needed here, be careful with your footing, and weight distribution. The path continues with some tricky terrain in the woods, until it flattens out, and widens.

Here you just walk out tired but fulfilled knowing you took in some the best views in Alberta.


Distance: most places it says 11 km but we had it closer to 13km.

Elevation: 852M.

Difficulty: Hard.

Time: around 6 hours, the drive in is on the long side so plan for a full day.

Season: June – October.

Dog Friendly: The avid hiker ones, if you bring them water!


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