It’s time to stop referring to Smugglers’ 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 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
No. 1 in the East: Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.
Smugglers’ Notch Stats
Smugglers’ Notch Pass
Smugglers’ Notch is not on a multi-resort pass. You can find season pass details here.
From lodging and and dining to off-slope activities and local tips, here are the SKI editors’ picks for what to do in Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.
The Back Bowls live up to the hype: countless tree lines that descend onto the Notch Road. Not officially part of Smuggs (they’re on State Forest land), they amount to a ski area in themselves—an area that’s all tree skiing. Slow lifts take the pressure off.
There’s good reason Smuggs is so popular with families. They love the instructors, the off-hill activities, and perhaps above all, the cute mascots, whose goofy après reindeer games are irresistible. Snap pictures of the kids with Mogul Mouse at the base area for pure holiday-card gold.
Even if you’re not a ripper, don’t miss a ride on Madonna 1 to the summit for the amazing view. There’s an easy way down.
Even if you’re staying in one of those really nice condos over at Morse, you might want to pack the car and make Lot 1 your base. It edges right up to the slopes and hums with awesome tailgate après action most days.
As one reader rightly suggests, check out the pub at Smugglers’ Notch Inn down in Jefferson Village: “Locals’ bar. Food is phenomenal, drinks are strong, plenty of friends to be made.”
Ride the Madonna 1 double, a slow, nostalgic, and historic lift that accesses killer terrain. Novices welcome— there’s an easy way down from the summit.
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.
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.
Northern Vermont's beloved Smugglers' Notch has long been rumored to be the next resort joining Vail Resorts' ever-expanding portfolio. We sent our crackerjack reporter in to investigate—and, more importantly ski his favorite steep Eastern lines in his spare time.
Tell us why your family deserves to win a free ski vacation. And make it a really good reason, because next month SKI readers will vote for their favorite entries. The three lucky families with the most votes will win vacations to Smugglers' Notch, Steamboat and Northstar-at-Tahoe.