Tryst Ridge Snowshoeing
A deep snow adventure in Kananaskis Country
- Destination: Kananaskis
- Season: December-May
- Difficulty: Demanding
- Distance: 7 kilometers (out‑and‑back)
- Elevation Gain: 510 meters
- Duration: 5-8 hours
About Tryst Ridge
There aren't too many official snowshoe trails in this area. The ones that exist are generally short, very popular and the snow is so packed that you really don't require snowshoes. The best snowshoeing adventures are the ones off-trail, and this destination is a good bet for deep snow and a good workout!
Drive about 34 km south of the Canmore Nordic Centre along the Smith-Dorrien / Spray Lakes Trail, also known as Highway 742. You’ll likely see other vehicles parked along the west side of the road. This area is really popular with skiers. Many will take a similar way up and ski down into the Tryst Lake bowl.
Park on the road and aim for the ridge shown in the photos. Avoid using ski trails, as skiers will often use the same trail to return and snowshoes over these tracks will make it less enjoyable for the skiers.
If you have parked at the right spot, you'll see the famous Fist (peak) directly to the west. The ridge/bump you're aiming for is connected to it, a little tree covered bump seen in the photo of this article (right of centre). The popular Tent Ridge is directly north of it and your goal will be to aim for the Tryst Lake drainage, to the right of the treed bump.
You’ll lose a little bit of elevation as you make your way towards the Smith-Dorrien Creek. If there is sufficient snow, this creek will be easy to cross and there shouldn’t be any worry about getting wet. There should be many tracks that lead in this direction, mainly from skiers. Avoid following the ski trails. If you see snowshoe trails, your day will be a lot easier! Breaking trail in snowshoes is hard work!
The Smith-Dorrien creek will offer a clearing about 400 meters wide, then it’s bushwhacking time. Another 400-500 meters will cross an old logging road. This logging road is a good place to get your bearings and orient yourself towards the Tryst Lake drainage. Look for tracks, many will ski along the drainage. You will want to avoid getting into the Tryst Lake bowl, and aim to start gaining Tryst Ridge when you start seeing a clearing on the opposite side of the drainage (Tent Ridge).
You’ll remain in the trees for a little while as you gain elevation. Eventually, the trees get thinner, larch trees will be present and views will open up to the east and north. The higher you go, the better the views, but terrain exposure will also increase. Soon you’ll see the chutes that skiers use on your right and continuing on will become difficult. Turn around at whatever point you’re comfortable and take the same way back down.
- Check avalanche condition reports and be mindful of avalanche terrain
- Avalanche awareness training is recommended for winter activity
Where to stay
- If you stay at Engadine Lodge, you don't even need to drive! The closest town is Canmore.
Questions or comments? Let us know.
By Marko Stavric
Marko has been on numerous adventures in the Canadian Rockies and all across the world, always bringing his camera along with him.