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Italianos Canyon: A Delightful Hike, Part 1

August 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 


Last weekend, in the mood for a trail we had not hiked before, Terry and I chose one of the many trails off of Highway 150, better known as The Ski Valley Road, for our weekly hike, the Italianos Canyon Trail. We had toyed with the idea of hiking this trail before, but some of the canyon trails tend to be dark and shady, with no views to speak of, so you find yourself hiking through trees, only to see more trees at the top. The week before, our waitress at a local restaurant had mentioned the trail and shared that it was her favorite hike in the area. Then, the Friday before our adventure, the Taos Chapter of the New Mexico Native Plant Society held a garden tour at which this same hike was mentioned favorably. We took that as a sign that it was time for us to experience this trail.

Italianos Canyon, Taos Ski Valley, NMWhile we have often hiked in the Taos Ski Valley, and really enjoy the William’s Lake and Wheeler Peak Trails, Italianos Canyon is easily one of the most scenic, and perhaps, one of the most easy-going trails in and around the Ski Valley. Italianos is quite gentle in the first mile, then begins to climb a bit more, with an elevation gain from 8,704 feet to 11,387 feet in just 3.6 miles. There are only two steeper sections on the trail, both easily navigable, but they will increase your heart rate to that workout level.

The creek crossing that did me in.

The creek crossing that did me in.

The trail zig-zags across Italianos Creek, allowing hikers multiple delightful views of the stream and waterfalls as the creek tumbles merrily down the canyon. We counted 16 river crossings on our trip, all of which are made quite simple by the thoughtful placement of numerous large rocks (and in one case, two logs) to enable hikers to traverse the stream with nary a wet foot. But tread carefully; a bit too cavalier as I approached the very first crossing, not ten minutes into our hike, my foot slid out from under me on an algae covered rock and down I went, my derriere completely submerged in the water. Luckily, I was wearing my nylon hiking skort, a favorite for hot summer hikes, so I was dry after another 20 minutes of hiking.

Italianos Creek Waterfall, Taos Ski Valley, NMAfter the first mile, a mere thirty minutes into our hike, we encountered a lovely aspen grove that would be a terrific place to camp if one had the desire.  A mile on a gentle trail is not too far to hike in with tent and sleeping gear. But to make things even more inviting, some kind soul(s) had loosely constructed two sleeping shelters of aspen branches and twigs that looked as if they would be quite comfortable on a warm summer night.

We stopped to photograph the cathedral-sized quaking aspen in the grove, then we hiked on. After an hour of hiking, we stopped alongside the creek to share an apple and some water.

Aspen Grove with shelter

Aspen Grove with shelter

Molly, one of our English Cocker Spaniels who accompanied us on the hike, took great delight in immersing herself in the creek at each crossing and lapping up more than enough water, making her doggie water bottle unnecessary.

Check out Woodall’s main site for more camping information.


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