Smugglers’ Notch Resort has long sat in the shadow of its neighbor, Stowe, but finally, this northern Vermont ski destination can no longer be considered “underrated”.
Named 2019’s best ski resort in the East by SKI Magazine, Smugglers’ Notch features more than 1,000 skiable acres across three mountains and receives an average of 275 inches of snow each year.
There’s a reason why Smugglers’ Notch earned the nickname “America’s Family Resort”: This resort puts families at the forefront with trails that cater to all skill levels and a bevy of activities for kids. Get the little ones acclimated to the sport by signing them up for one of six ski and snowboard programs designed for children ages 2.5 to 18. And at the end of the day, enjoy some quality family time at the FunZone play center or at one of Smugglers’ Notch’s many kid-friendly events, which range from bonfires to karaoke.
Spring is the best time to ski at Smugglers’ Notch with the resort often seeing ample snowfall throughout the month of March and temperatures on the mountain a bit more comfortable. The resort also hosts a number of family-friendly events in the springtime (MapleFest is particularly popular among those with a sweet tooth), not to mention weekly fireworks displays. Plus, you can score major discounts on lift tickets and lodging during Smugglers’ Notch’s Super Saver weeks in March and early April.
For adults, daily lift tickets at Smugglers’ Notch Resort cost between $82 and $88 during the peak ski season (December through March), while kids can ski all day for between $62 and $68. You can save big by planning an early- or late-season trip, when daily lift ticket prices drop to $56 for adults and $44 for kids. Lift tickets (which can also be purchased for half-day periods) offer access to all three mountains, though single-mountain tickets are available, too. Before you purchase anything, however, be sure to check the promotions page of the resort’s website, so as not to miss out on any special deals or super saver weeks.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort is not an Ikon or Epic Pass destination, but if you plan to ski here more than once in the season, consider investing in a Bash Badge, which will allow you to purchase daily lift tickets for $30 all season long.
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Smugglers’ Notch Resort sprawls across three mountains and 1,000 acres of accessible terrain, 300 of which are marked and patrolled. Just over half of the resort’s 78 runs are designed for intermediate skiers and snowboarders; another 17 percent are ideal for beginners, and the rest are perfect for advanced and expert powder hounds. Smugglers’ Notch also features six terrain parks, and the resorts 22 glades are some of the most diverse in the Eastern United States.
According to veteran ski instructor Glen Findholt, these are the best ski trails at Smugglers’ Notch:
“Beginners love riding Mogul Mouse’s Magic Lift to a variety of trails designed just for them and groomed to perfection every day. After only a few days on snow most new skiers and riders are ready for a trip to the very top of the Morse lifts where they love what we often refer to as ‘Around the World’. It’s a trip that encompasses three trails, Midway, Curly’s Cutback and Meadowlark, and provides a gentle gradient that travels roughly a mile and returns right back to the base of the Magic lift. Along the way there are great views of the more advanced trails on Madonna and Sterling Mountains. Advanced beginners will find the Morse Highlands area tucked away with its own lift as well as a terrain park designed to enhance their skills.”
“Intermediate skiers and riders can still find challenge on Morse Mountain, but most make the jump to Sterling and Madonna Mountains where both elevation and pitch are increased. Turning right at the top of the Sterling Lift takes you to Rumrunner, a classic groomer with views out to Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains to the West. Strong intermediates who venture to the top of Madonna Mountain will enjoy cruising on Chilcoot with views to the north that extend well into Canada and easterly vistas that reach the Presidential Mountain range in New Hampshire.”
“For the most extreme visitors, the East’s only’ triple black diamond, Black Hole provides an exhilarating challenge! Locals also rave about the incredibly technical Upper Madonna Liftline, with mandatory drops and steep, rugged natural terrain.
First time visitors to ‘America’s Family Resort’ sometimes assume that our terrain is dominated by family-friendly groomers. While there’s plenty of those to go around, the hidden secret of Smuggs’ is the acres and acres of steep, treed and gnarly mountainside that will test even the most confident expert. F.I.S. (the initials of the International Ski Federation, governing body of World Cup ski racing), which frequently boasts the largest moguls, [can] be found on Madonna Mountain.”
Smugglers’ Notch Resort has five ski-in/ski-out condominium communities with one- to five-bedroom condos available to rent. If you’re bringing the kids, the Village East Community is a convenient option as it is located near the TREASURES childcare center, while the little ones are sure to love the indoor splash playground at the North Hill Community. Most of the communities feature year-round pools and hot tubs, and all of them provide easy access to the Village via shuttle. However, do note that you will have to pay a one-time resort fee, the amount of which varies by season and condo size.
There are also lodging options located outside the resort in the town of Jeffersonville. If you prefer B&Bs to condos, consider booking a room at The Smugglers’ Notch Inn , a historic property at the foot of Mount Mansfield. Starting at $89 a night, rooms here feature Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces, and guests can score discounted lift tickets. Another option is the Sterling Ridge Log Cabin Resort , where you’ll have a cozy log cabin – complete with a full kitchen, not to mention an outdoor grill and fire pit – all to yourself.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort has a number of on-mountain restaurants to choose from. The Perk, Green Mountain Deli and Refuel Café all serve coffee, grab-and-go breakfast and lunch items, and other light bites. For dinner with the kids, snag a table at the Village Pizzeria, which often hosts family-friendly events and character dinners.
The resort also features several high-end dining establishments. The Hearth & Candle is a particularly popular dinner spot thanks to its innovative dishes made with local Vermont ingredients, such as grilled lamb chops topped with a decadent rhubarb sauce, and gooey apple crisp made from Vermont apples. You’ll want to make reservations in advance here. For a more intimate dining experience, book your spot on the Snowshoe Adventure Dinner: ride the Sterling lift to Top of the Notch, a cabin lit only by candlelight, and enjoy a four-course meal prepared by The Hearth & Candle before snowshoeing back down the mountain.
Of course, a trip to Vermont – the home of Ben & Jerry’s – wouldn’t be complete without some ice cream. You can sample the state’s favorite dessert at the Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop, located in the Village Lodge.
Smugglers’ Notch doesn’t fall short when it comes to post-ski entertainment. After a particularly grueling day, devote some time to recovery at the Mountain Massage Center, which offers a variety of massages, skin-care treatments and yoga sessions. If you prefer to get a little rowdy around sundown, plan an evening at the Black Bear Tavern. Located in the Sterling/Madonna Base Lodge, this cozy bar regularly hosts live music, trivia nights and karaoke while pouring pints of the resort’s signature home-brewed Prohibition Ale.
There’s also plenty of family-friendly après-ski activities at Smugglers’ Notch. Every Tuesday night from early December to early April, the FunZone hosts Kids’ Night Out, a pizza party with arts and crafts, laser tag, and a movie screening (for $55 per attendee). If you prefer to spend time as a family, gather together around a bonfire in the Village Green for the daily Hot Chocolate Warm-up.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort is located in Jeffersonville, Vermont, about an hour’s drive from Burlington. Direct flights are available to Burlington International Airport from a number of major U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago, Washington DC and Atlanta; however, if you are traveling from the West Coast, your trip will include a layover. The drive from Burlington to Smugglers’ notch is relatively easy, but if you would prefer not to rent a car, Green Mountain Transit offers commuter bus service between Burlington and Jeffersonville on weekdays for $2 a ride. Another option is to fly to Montreal, Canada, which is about a two-hour drive from the resort. If you choose this option – don’t forget your passport.
Once you arrive at Smugglers’ Notch, you can park your car and leave it for the duration of your stay. The resort provides complimentary on-call shuttle service throughout the resort village, while the Mountain Shuttle can transport you to and from the resort entrance and the village.
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