Italianos Canyon Trail 59

Italianos Canyon trail is probably one of the most scenic of the trails in the Taos area. The trail head (N36 35.0849 W105 29.7710) is located on State Highway 150 (a.k.a. Ski Valley Road) near the Taos Ski Valley. It is 11.78 miles northeast of the intersection of US Highway 64 and State Highway 150 north of Taos. The trail is 3.6 miles long climbing from 8,704 to 11,387 feet at its intersection with the Lobo Peak Trail. It is arguably the easiest of the four Hondo Canyon trails on Highway 150. Parking is available on the highway or up a short but rugged road to the trail head. Four wheel drive and high clearance is advisable to use the parking lot.

The trail has numerous water crossings that have been improved with rocks or logs. Nonetheless, during the spring runoff, waterproof foot gear is a necessity. Because of dense vegetation at various points on the trail waterproof footgear is required during early mornings during the summer because of heavy dew and damp from summer monsoons.

A complete map and profile of the trail with waypoints is here.

Looking up into aspen grove The trail climbs quickly. After only 3,600 feet of hiking at elevation 9,164 feet is a nice aspen grove accompanied by a large campfire ring and primitive camping area (N36 35.4765 W105 30.0411). A large version of this picture is here.

At about 1.5 miles into the hike (N36 35.8508 W105° 30.5448) at an elevation of 9,669 to the right of the trail is a beautiful cascade of water.

At 1.6 miles into the hike (N36.35.9705 W105 30.5024) at an elevation of 9,830 you will begin a series of switchbacks. This area is steep and takes trail away from the water. You then enter a mixed conifer and aspen forest with much less ground vegetation.

This continues until you reach the first of a series of small meadows (N36 36.2928 W105 30.8330) about 2.3 miles into the hike at an elevation of 10,373 feet.

Finally at N36 36.9574 W105 31.4514 after 3.6 miles and at and elevation of 11.387 feet we reach the end of the trail.

This is the view looking down the Lobo Peak Trail towards Gold Hill. The trail runs more-or-less on the mountain ridge between the Red River Valley and the Hondo Valley. It is exposed for much of its distance and offers spectacular views. Here it is wooded for the views are minimal. But it was still very windy and we hiked a few hundred feet back down in elevation on the trail to find a comfortable place for lunch.

Forest service information here.

Data files for download: