Resort Guide 2018: Best In The East #1
Smugglers’ Notch? The No. 1 ski resort in the East? Before you spout off (looking at you, Stowe snob), consider this: Readers rank it No. 1 for kids. What, are you going to argue with cute little groms who like to ski? We didn’t think so. At Smuggs, making families feel welcome is a trademark, a raison-d’etre. Its ownership and management—real Vermonters, by the way, unbeholden to any corporate overlords or real-estate investment trust—long ago made the family thing their mission, and they’ve stayed unfailingly on-message ever since. To that end, there are cozy slopeside condos, cuddly mascots, pools and playgrounds, cookies and milk, daily reindeer games, and miles of novice and intermediate terrain on the slopes of Morse and Sterling mountains. A beloved stuffed animal left behind? Staffers will cheerfully Fed-Ex it to you, one reader attests.
But here’s the thing: The terrain on Smugglers’ Notch’s signature summit, Madonna Mountain, will kick your ass—narrow, gnarly, bumps-up-to-here and in many places as steep as anything in the country. So as popular as Smuggs is with families, it’s also a favorite of many a boot-up-in-the-lot Burlington ski bum, who will vouch for its high rankings for Challenge, Variety, and Snow. And what does it tell you when a place that doesn’t have a single high-speed lift—and almost no nightlife whatsoever—can be the top-ranked resort in the East? It tells you that readers appreciate a place that keeps it real. To wit: “An affordable resort with great terrain that caters to everyday families.’” “Authentic Vermont skiing with amazing terrain and tree skiing.” “Extreme dedication to creating the best customer experience possible.” “A skier’s mountain and a great value.”
The whole place is one
big family activity: skating, swimming, tubing, sugar on snow, and more.
Is there really such a thing as a triple black diamond? Pure marketing hype? Try Black Hole, then decide for yourself.
Cruise FIS top to bottom and imagine a time when FIS-sanctioned downhills were run on such narrow, winding trails.
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.
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.