An Insider’s Guide to the Best Inbound Skiing at Smugglers’ Notch Resort

Smuggs offers fantastic skiing and gorgeous views.
Smuggs offers fantastic skiing and gorgeous views. Robbie Shade
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Nestled just beyond the quiet hamlet of Jeffersonville, VT is a family resort with an expert flair. With over 1,000 acres of terrain, an average seasonal accumulation of 322 inches, and three mountains offering trails for all levels, Smugglers’ Notch Resort, known to locals as Smuggs, is sure to please every skier and rider in your crew. Here, the amazing views and exhilarating skiing and riding can hook even the most reluctant visitor.

Nearly 70 percent of the trails at Smuggs are easy or intermediate. Equipped with ample beginner slopes, a stellar ski school, and segregated green circles free of speedy experts, Smugglers’ Notch provides an exceptional training ground for newbies of all ages. Three mountains promise perfect stepping stones for beginners and intermediates to test their skills on new terrain. And experts who are willing to dodge kiddos can find some incredible runs as well. Smuggs is so chock full of families, the black diamonds tend to be the least traveled roads on the mountains. Boasting the only triple black diamond in the east–Black Hole–and some of the best bumps and glades found in Vermont, Smuggs is a gem for experts too.

Smugglers’ Notch is comprised of three mountains–Morse, Sterling, and Madonna. Each has a unique personality, and depending on the ages and abilities of those in your group, you can bounce among the three or spend dedicated time getting to know your favorite one.

Find your favorite trail or glade and get going. Robbie Shade

With access to the village, Morse Mountain is a one-stop shop for rentals, ski school, childcare, dining, and other amenities. Morse Mountain offers gentle slopes, magic carpets, Sir Henry’s Learning Hill, a Burton Riglet park, and a beginners’ chair lift. This is the best spot to let beginners and reluctant newbies build up confidence. A few cruisers down the Magic Learning Trail can get their legs warm and their courage raised for a trip up to the Morse Highlands. Log Jam delivers open space to carve out slow turns while also giving playful tricksters a chance to try out a few rails and jumps in the Log Jam Terrain Park. Accessed via The Village Lift or Mogul Mouse’s Magic Lift, Snow Snake is the perfect trail to test whether the in-betweeners can graduate to the blue squares on Sterling and Madonna.

Sterling Mountain’s trails are great for intermediate skiers and riders. Head straight up Sterling Lift and take Rumrunner for a groomed cruiser. Step up your game by trying out moguls on Treasure Run or the more challenging Hangman’s. Test out your black diamond skills on Pipeline Escape with a nice cool down on Lower Exhibition. Ready to try navigating trees? Hop onto Crossover and dip into the open glades of Poacher’s Woods.

Experts scoring first tracks can play on Sterling for a fun warm up before it becomes crowded. Those seeking bumps can hit up the steep Bootlegger or Smugglers’ Alley. Show off your moves on Upper Exhibition or for some private powder stash, hit up Highlander Glades or Pirate’s Plank.

Smuggs offers fantastic skiing and gorgeous views. Robbie Shade

For adventurous and experienced skiers, Madonna is where the real magic happens. Ride to the top of the lift and pray for a clear day. Prepare to be awed by the views of Mount Mansfield. In fact, intermediate and expert skiers should treat themselves to a quick cruise along Chilcoot and take in its panoramic views. But be sure to head back to the summit for choice terrain.

You’ll find steep plummets on Freefall and Upper Liftline and prime glades on Shakedown. Do not miss Doc Dempsey’s glades. Lovely bumps and gorgeous birches await you. Accessed via Chilcoot, Doc Dempsey’s Glades are steep, bumpy, and littered with trees.

If you’re sticking to the blues, you have plenty of great options and an open invite to try your skills in the glades. Seriously, if you want to start dodging trees, Smuggs is the place to do it. Take it slow, play it safe, use the buddy system, but get into those woods. Madonna offers multiple intermediate gladed trails. And for extra comfort and confidence, consider taking a lesson with someone who can guide you through your first experience in the trees. Once you find a stash of powder or complete your first smooth line, you’ll be hooked!

For a real challenge, hit up prime moguls on FIS and cut over to Robin’s Run. But if you’re looking for something more, don’t miss The Black Hole, the only triple black diamond in the East. With the top 600 feet pitched at 65 to 70 percent grade, this truly is an experts-only trail. Cliffs, moguls, and snowy woods make this steep and thickly-gladed trail a true challenge. And if that’s not enough, duck the ropes and head to the real backcountry.

Smugglers’ Notch can be a playground for the seasoned expert, a training ground for the very beginner, or a stepping stone for the intermediate skier looking to test new terrain. Morse is always the spot to play it safe, while Sterling and Madonna offer both a plethora of trails to keep the family happy and a combination of woods and bumps to strike a little healthy fear into everyone’s hearts. As always, play it safe, go at your own speed, and use the buddy system when exploring the woods. But when you start to feel at ease, take advantage of Smuggs’ varied terrain that gives you the chance to push your boundaries a little more each time you head up the lift.

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