Ski Area

Smugglers Notch Ski Area

Smugglers Notch ski area is spread over three hills. Madonna, the highest, rises to 3,640 feet (1,110 m) at the end of the valley, with Sterling to its right and Morse to its left.

Smugglers’ Notch, or “Smuggs” as the locals call it, was founded in 1956 by a group of local skiers, and has thrived ever since despite its nearby ritzy competitor, Stowe. Smuggs also operates one of Vermont’s largest ski-in/ski-out village areas providing those who can enjoy the comforts of a mountain condo easy access to the slopes. Many of those trail names follow a bootlegging theme as a reference to the Prohibition-era alcohol smuggling roots of the famed Notch nearby.

The resort lies across the Notch road from Stowe Mountain Resort. Although a short distance away as the crow flies, Smuggler’s Notch feels a world away from its more famous competitor. The resort tends to attract a more local and die-hard, yet relaxed group of regular patrons than other Vermont resorts. 

Smugglers Notch’s skiable terrain spans three separate mountains, each with a unique identity. Morse Mountain, situated alongside the resort village and condominium area, houses all the beginner terrain at Smugglers’ Notch. Sterling Mountain offers excellent views of Stowe resort and nearby Mt. Mansfield along with a large terrain park and plenty of intermediate and advanced terrain. Madonna Mountain, the resorts tallest at 3,639ft, features intermediate and advanced glades alongside remarkably steep expert terrain that equals anything found elsewhere in the Northeast.

One downside to the resort, however, is it antiquated lift system, which consists of six slow double chairlifts. The ride to the top of Madonna Mountain is particularly lengthy and on the cold days can prompt even the hardiest skiers to need a warm-up break. The North-facing slopes are also often hit hard with cold winds, which make the can make the slow chairlift rides seem interminable. Of course, those same cold winds and shaded north-facing slopes preserve powder in the woods long after a storm. It is not uncommon to find fresh tracks, even in marked glades, more than a week after a decent snowfall.

Smugglers’ Notch is consistently rated as one of the top family resorts in the East, as well as the entire United States. Don’t let that fool you, however, as steep runs and dense woods cover all of upper Madonna Mountain, and backcountry access to areas with high snowfall and avalanche danger lies just outside the resort boundary. Full-day in-season lift tickets cost only $70, below average for one of the larger ski areas in Vermont.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top