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Italianos Canyon: A Delightful Hike, Part 2

August 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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In my last post (August 4th) I sharing a hike Terry and I had taken up Italianos Canyon in the Taos Ski Valley, NM. After the first mile, we reached a lovely aspen grove. Shortly thereafter, at about the two mile point, we encountered a series of four beautiful meadows that would also make delightful places to camp if one was in the mood to pack in camping equipment a bit higher up. For those not interested in packing in camping gear any distance, the Ski Valley Road is literally riddled with wonderfully scenic rustic forest service campgrounds and sites. The closest of those to the Italianos Trailhead is the Cuchilla Campground, less than half mile away from the start of our hike.

Italianos Canyon, Taos Ski Valley, NMThe first of the steeper trail sections occurred just after our stop, but soon leveled out, making the trail gentle and quite delightful once again. Italianos Canyon is home to more than 200 species of plants, including some that are toxic to humans and animals, such as Monkshood and several species of mushrooms. While it was too early in the season for mushrooms when we hiked, there were plenty of wildflowers in full bloom to enjoy. Columbines were abundant, as were wild fern, Canadian thistle and many others.

Gentle trail leading to a meadow

Gentle trail leading to a meadow

In addition, unlike many other canyon trails we have hiked, such as Long’s Canyon (see my August 12, 2012 Woodalls Blog post for a not very favorable description of that hike), this trail opened up delightfully in numerous spots, allowing us to see sun, meadows and the profusion of wildflowers there for our delight, rather than just seeing trees and more trees. On we hiked, eager to see what lay ahead. We knew the trail connected to the Lobo Peak Trail at the ridge at the top of the canyon and were hoping to make the trip to Lobo Peak as well.

We encountered a couple on their way down shortly after the last meadow. “Watch out for that storm coming in,” the man warned, “have you heard the thunder?” We had not. Looking up, we could now see clouds rolling in and hear a distant rumble. We would have to hurry to reach the ridge.

Lobo Peak Trail sign at the ridge atop Italianos Canyon

Lobo Peak Trail sign at the ridge atop Italianos Canyon

The sky continued to grow dark and the thunder rumbled periodically in the distance. Finally, after two hours and 13 minutes, we spotted the sign for the Lobo Peak Trail. We sat on a log and shared another apple and a Clif Bar. Just as we started to eat, thunder rumbled loudly, sounding very near. We quickly finished and began our scramble back down the canyon. There would be no Lobo Peak that day; it would have to wait.

The storm moved in quickly

The storm moved in quickly

We were splattered occasionally with large drops of rain as we hurried down the canyon, but they felt quite refreshing, given that they were not too plentiful and the temperature was in the 80’s.  Even so, we were both nearly dry as we reached the car. Not so, Molly, who had again made the most of every stream crossing, so she was relegated to the very back of the Durango for the ride home. Not one to complain, she simply curled into a comma and nodded off to sleep. We knew how she felt; we were both feeling the kind of peace that comes with satisfying physical exertion and had thoroughly enjoyed our day. Someday soon, we will head back to conquer Lobo Peak. I’m sure Molly will want to accompany us.

Read more about New Mexico camping and things to do in New Mexico.

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