4 Winter Hikes in Smugglers’ NotchFebruary 27, 2019
by AMY POTTER, GREEN MOUNTAIN CLUB
Smugglers’ Notch has long been an outdoor playground for many types of recreational activities, from hiking and snowshoeing to rock and ice climbing and, of course, skiing. Along with beautiful scenery and majestic Mt. Mansfield in the background, there’s a variety of outdoor fun for everyone to discover – especially in the winter. With that, we share with you our four favorite Smugglers’ Notch winter hikes.
Barnes Camp Boardwalk
If you don’t want to stray too far from the warmth of your car, but you still want some dramatic views, the boardwalk at Barnes Camp is a great place to explore. Park at the Barnes Camp Visitor Center and take a short walk out on the boardwalk. The boardwalk travels through a wetland that leads to a perspective of the Notch that is unique to the area. Stop by the informational kiosk at the Visitor Center (closed in winter) after your walk to learn more about the area.
Route 108 to Smugglers’ Notch
With Route 108 closed in the winter, hikers can embark on a unique winter hike up the hill and through the Notch. This hike is about a mile long, and makes for a wonderful, easy snowshoe option. The winding road gradually takes you by 1,000-foot tall cliffs, massive boulders, and an interesting stand of mid-elevation heart leaf paper birch trees, before you reach the top of the Notch.
Smugglers’ Notch to Sterling Pond
If you want to add some extra adventure to your hike up Route 108, you can continue from the Notch up the Sterling Pond Trail to a scenic high elevation pond. Although it’s only a mile up to the pond, the trail is steep, and conditions can vary from icy to deep snow, so snowshoes or micro spikes – or both – are recommended.
For a true winter experience on the Long Trail, you can hike north to Taft Lodge, just below the summit of Mt. Mansfield. While this hike is about two miles to the shelter, make sure to start your trip early to allow for plenty of daylight hours. The historical white blazes marking the trail can be difficult to follow in snowy conditions, and as a popular spot for back-country skiing, the intersecting ski tracks further make the trail difficult to navigate. Be sure to pack both a map and compass with the rest of your gear for this trip. Taft Lodge serves as a great destination by providing a four-sided haven from the cold weather, making it a great place to stop and enjoy a snack before heading back down the mountain.
Looking for a map to accompany you? These trail maps are available for purchase in either a digital format or waterproof hard copy.
If you have any questions about winter hiking preparedness, visit the Green Mountain Club’s blog, or connect with our hiking experts at the GMC Visitor Center. Stop by our Waterbury Center Visitor Center on Route 100 or give us a call at (802) 244-7037. Enjoy your winter hike in Smugglers’ Notch!
About the author
Amy Potter is a Long Trail end-to-ender and the Green Mountain Club’s visitor center manager. She enjoys hiking and skiing with her family and helping other folks get outdoors. The Green Mountain Club is the founder and maintainer of the Long Trail – the oldest long distance hiking trail in America. Established in 1910 to build this trail stretching the length of Vermont, the club now also maintains the Appalachian Trail in Vermont and trails in the Northeast Kingdom in its mission to “make the Vermont mountains play a larger part in the life of the people.