Distance: 6.5 km
Elevation gain: 540 mView mapDownload GPS track
Gypsum ridge is a popular snowshoeing trip to the west of the north end of Lower Kananaskis Lake. As it is almost entirely in the trees until the end the avalanche risk is lower than other areas, but it does also mean the views are very limited for most of the trip.
To reach the trailhead, drive south on the Smith-Dorrien highway (742) for about 8 km. As you pass the Peninsula day use area, Gypsum Ridge is the obvious ridge in front of you to the southwest. The usual route up the ridge begins at its western end, about 3 km by road from the Peninsula day use area, typically at the end of the guardrail. There is no parking area, so just park by the side of the road.
From this point the route descends about 80 m to cross Smith-Dorrien Creek, then begins ascending. The ascent is steep and the bushwhacking annoying, but as the trip is quite popular spend some time looking for a trail that has already been broken. (Be aware, however, that any trail you find may not go where you want it to go! Once reaching the ridgecrest we blindly followed a trail that for some reason started to descend the southern slopes!). After a few hundred meters of ascent, you will encounter an old road. We ascended along this road to the western end of the ridge, then turned to the east and continued the now much gentler ascent along the ridge top to its open eastern end.
The final 100 m of the ridge is out of the trees and the views from this area are what you've been slogging towards. Be careful of cornices and unstable snow along here, however, as the ridge is quite narrow.