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Distance: 7 km
Elevation gain: 600 m
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This is a spectacular showshoe trip with very low avalanche risk that takes you up relatively high (2400 m). It does, however, require a significant effort to ascend 600 m on snowshoes, and the views don't really open up until you are very close to the top. You'll also need some ability to navigate off trail as there is no well defined trail to follow up the ridge. It's not that the navigation is difficult, just don't expect to be following a trail the whole way.

The trail starts along the Spray Lakes road about 2 km south of Mt. Engadine Lodge at the place where there are usually cars parked on the side of the road. It is the same trailhead as the shortcut approach to Commonwealth Lake. From the road, follow the trail across the flats, then ascend gently through forest until you reach a cutblock. At this point the trail essentially disappears and is replaced by numerous ski tracks - some old, some new, some busy, some not - and crisscrossing old roads that are confusing by times. Roughly west (straight) leads to a well-defined trail that parallels Commonwealth Creek; this is the trail we intersected a few weeks ago when we were heading to Commonwealth Lake. Heading left (south) from the cutblock leads to several forking tracks of various ages, all of which appear to ascend the ridge. For no particular reason we headed left and ascended, but others clearly went straight and began their ascent closer to Commonwealth Lake. Both approaches appear similar in difficulty.

The ascent is quite difficult, although never exposed or dangerous. It's not particularly steep for a summer hike, but it appeared to be close to the limit for our snowshoes and with unsupportive snow it was a real struggle to get to the top. Until you reach the ridgecrest the views are absent too; we intersected the ridgecrest at about 2250 m, just after the first larches appeared, and from this point onward the views were spectacular. Treeline is just below 2400 m, which is right before the ridge narrows and steepens. For us this was the end of the trip as continuing would involve some light winter scrambling, and with 60 km/h winds and snow moving in this was not something we had any interest in doing! The views from this vantage are spectacular, however, and allow you to overlook many other snowshoe trips in the area, including Chester and Rummel Lakes, Commonwealth Lake, and Hogarth Lakes. It was quite nice to be so high up this time of year!

On our descent we detoured to Commonwealth Lake, passing the beautiful falls on Commonwealth Creek. This route is makes for a slightly longer trip, but does add a few extra views.

Categories & Keywords
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Subcategory:Outdoors
Subcategory Detail:Hiking
Keywords:Commonwealth Lake, Commonwealth Ridge, Kananaskis, snowshoeing