Explore Smugglers' Notch

Smugglers' Notch

Enjoy vibrant foliage especially if you choose to explore Smugglers' Notch as the fall colors are present. Bring your trail shoes as this area has an abundance of stunning hikes as well.

If you're in New England during September or early October, a drive up north into Vermont is an absolute must for prime fall foliage. I-89 brings you through the state from I-93, and is in itself a beautifully scenic drive. Stowe, Vermont is a small ski resort town located just outside of Mt. Mansfield State Forest. Surrounding the picturesque, New England village, there are incredible breweries nearby, a cider mill, and the world famous Ben & Jerry's headquarters.

To begin an epic foliage hike out of Stowe, drive north on Route 108 (closed Nov-May) and park at the Smugglers' Notch pull off. From here, follow the Sterling Pond Trail to access the famous Long Trail, a 272 mile hiking trail recognized as the oldest long distance hiking trail in the U.S. For a longer hike, you can follow the Long Trail to different points on Mt. Mansfield (approximately 4 miles to Chin on Mt. Mansfield, 5.5 miles to Nose). Mt. Mansfield is one of two places where arctic tundra can be found in Vermont, with around 200 acres on it's upper regions.

The Long Trail is a very remote, rugged hiking trail that sees a great deal of rainfall, so if you plan to go further from the Sterling Pond Trail, be ready for lots of mud and possible rain. If your time is limited, there's an easy loop trail around Sterling Pond and a few short but steep trails up to various points at Smuggler's Notch that provide awesome views of the foliage in the mountains. For more information on trail distances and elevation, see the Smugglers' Notch trail map.

The area is home to black bear, moose, deer and fox families, as well as an abundance of wildflowers. For extraordinary light on the valleys in this area, wake up early and catch the sunrise. There's usually a thin veil of fog that lifts after mid morning, which can be a beautiful photo opportunity, especially with the vibrant foliage.

If you're just making it a day trip, head into Stowe after the hike for an amazing selection of restaurants and pubs.

Pack List

  • Warm layers
  • Rain jacket
  • Hiking boots
  • Camera
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Activities Chillin, Photography
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Adult Beverages
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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It's all in Cambridge.

The town border is on the Notch Road, right as the road changes back to two lanes on the Stowe side. All the scenery is in the next town over, Cambridge. Cambridge is the home of Smugglers Notch. The resort, and the real thing.

Awesome Area

Check it out any season but be prepared to hike in winter. The notch road closed at first snow.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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