It’s time to stop referring to Smuggler's Notch as “underrated.” Everyone knows it’s the East’s original family-friendly resort, with activities, accommodations, and a genuine top-down desire to make parents’ lives easier. In the age of conglomerates and real estate investment trusts, everyone loves the fact that it’s still independently owned, reasonably priced, and locally controlled. And everyone knows it’s a place that doesn’t have a single high-speed lift. But no one gripes, and many prefer the leisurely, restful ride up knowing there’ll be fewer skiers on the trails.
As for what might still be underrated, it’s the breadth and real-Vermont gnarliness of Smuggs’s expert terrain, from the rowdy steeps of Madonna to the innumerable tree shots of the out-of-bounds Birthday Bowls. Even terminal intermediates can brag that they’ve skied from the summit of fearsome Madonna. The Madonna 1 chair offers a sobering view of Smuggs’ expert terrain on the way up, one of the East’s best views from the top, and an easy way down on Chilcoot.
Best of all, beginner and expert areas are so effectively sequestered from each other that everyone’s happy. Readers from both camps rave about Smugg’s authentic Vermont charm paired with amazing snow, minimal crowds and terrain for everyone. - Joe Cutts
Kids’ Club swag bags are presented upon check-in to groms 12 and under staying at a Smugglers’ property. Also: Fat-biking joins the robust list of off-slope activities on tap at the resort this season.
COME FOR THE...
TRAVEL EASE Get to the mountain early and snag a spot in Smugglers’ famous Lot 1. It’s ski-in/ski-out, with easy access to and from the Sterling and Madonna lifts. On nice afternoons it’s a hoppin’ tailgate scene.
TERRAIN VARIETY By the numbers: 78 trails; 19 percent green, 50 percent blue, 31 percent black and double-black. And that’s not counting the 750 acres of glades.
FAMILY ACTIVITY The whole place is one big family activity: skating, swimming, tubing, sugar on snow, and more.
BRAGGING RIGHTS Is there really such a thing as a triple black diamond? Pure marketing hype? Try Black Hole, then decide for yourself.
MANDATORY RUN Cruise FIS top to bottom and imagine a time when FIS-sanctioned downhills were run on such narrow, winding trails.
BEST VIEW For anyone who can handle a blue run, the top of Madonna serves up what might be the best panorama of any Eastern ski area.
APRÈS SPOT Sneak off campus for a cold one at Brewster River Pub and Brewery. They make their own and offer a nice selection of other Vermont brews.