Ski or Hike into Smugglers’ Notch
Whenever I stay at Stowe Mountain Lodge at the base of Vermont’s tallest peak, Mount Mansfield, I relish the opportunity to hike into Smugglers’ Notch. Simply take the Over Easy Gondola to the base of the Stowe Ski Area and walk to the end of the plowed portion of Mountain Road, where there’s a small parking lot. The road through the notch is closed in winter. This allows outdoor lovers the opportunity to ascend into a fantastic winter landscape of tall pines and birches, large glacial boulders on the side of the twisting snowed-over road, and iced-over cliffs that form the notch. I’m surrounded by winter enthusiasts of all stripes—hikers, snowshoers, telemark and cross-country skiers, backcountry boarders, and mountain men with full packs strapped to their backs who amble off the road onto small trails, excited to ice climb or bag the peak of Mansfield via the Hellbent Trail. Everyone seems to have a dog that accompanies him or her on their adventure. Breathe in the piney air and peer up in awe at the iced over cliffs. This is one of the many reasons why I return to Stowe winter after winter.