Top 10 Summer Family Resorts in the U.S.! Parents Magazine

Self-Guided Walks & Hikes at Smugglers' Notch Resort

Explore the mountain trails that surround this spectacular region

September 3 - October 14, 2013.



Check out all the Self-guided Nature Trail Hikes & Walks
Just click on the hike that interests you and a full description of the hike, including directions and time, will display — all to help you get the very most from your self-guided hikes.

Prospect Rock
Johnson, VT
Elevation 1040'
Vertical Rise 530'
More Difficult

Description and Highlights:
This is a great beginning hike for individuals or the family. Leaving Jeffersonville and traveling on Rt. 15 East towards Johnson, look to your left, and you will see the steep cliffs of Prospect Rock. The trail itself begins with a moderate grade through the woods. As you approach the base of the cliff, the trail climbs steeply for a short distance before reaching the top and the lookout point.

Along the way take note of the extensive bird, wildflower, and wildlife habitat. Enjoy the views to the south, the Lamoille River Valley and the Sterling Range (the Resort’s mountains). This is a wonderful private picnic location on a large flat area atop these ledges in a peaceful setting.

Directions:
Leaving Smugglers’ Notch Resort, turn right onto Rt. 108 North to Rt. 15 in Jeffersonville. Take Rt. 15 East from Jeffersonville towards Johnson approximately 7 miles until you cross the Lamoille River. Immediately after the river, take a sharp left onto Hogback Road (there is a Long Trail sign at this point). Drive .9 miles to the Ithiel Falls Camp Meeting Ground. Parking is located before the camp buildings on the left in the large gravel pull off area. From this point, walk towards the camp buildings, cross the road, and follow the Long Trail (marked by white vertical rectangular blazes on the trees and rocks) that leads into the woods. Take note of the direction from which you came as you reach the lookout and be sure to return the same way.

Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch to the trail head, approximately 15 min.
Trail distance - round trip, 1.5 miles.
Hiking time- round trip, approximately 1.5 hours plus time on top.

Precautions: This trail may be rather slippery when wet because of the numerous exposed roots. Caution should be exercised while on the ledges. There is no fence. Poison ivy does grow at elevations below 1,000' and may be present.
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Brewster River Gorge
Jeffersonville, VT
More Difficult

Description and Highlights:
Located on the picturesque Brewster River (which originates high on the Sterling Range, the Resort’s mountains), enjoy multiple swimming holes along the river, culminating with the most popular one at the base of the falls upstream just below the Gorge. Picnic and relax along the open riverside. Admire the abundant wildflowers on the pathway to the river crossing. The wooded area on the hillside allows for great bird viewing.

Directions:
From Smugglers’ Notch Resort, proceed north on Rt. 108 (downhill) towards Jeffersonville. Travel approximately 4 miles to Canyon Rd. (before the building with the water wheel). Make a very sharp right turn onto Canyon Road (do not cross the covered bridge). The parking area is straight ahead. There is a large sign and parking is available beside the river. Follow the path at the far end of the parking area until you come to a fork in the woods. Take the left fork (the well traveled route) to the river’s edge. At this point you will need to cross the river to view the falls. Before crossing, take a glance at the continuing path on the opposite side, which is a little upstream from where you are standing. It will be easiest to cross at the narrowest point. Once across the river, walk a short distance on the path until you see the falls. Return the same way you walked in.

Driving distance - round trip, 8 miles.
Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch to the parking area, approximately 5 minutes.
Hiking distance - round trip, 1.5 miles.
Hiking time - round trip, approximately 30 minutes.

Precautions: Water currents sometimes produce strong undertows and it may be unsafe to swim in the river. River rocks are extremely slippery, irregular shaped, and may cause you to lose your balance. Exercise caution along the river banks as there are no fences.
Poison ivy may be present.

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Bingham Falls
Stowe, VT
Easiest

Description and Highlights:
Explore the dynamic rock formations created by the forceful river currents. In the midst of this forested area you will find an abundance of wild flowers and birds to view. Relax and enjoy the cool air on a hot Summer’s day. Amble upstream for a pleasurable river walk or enjoy one of the many refreshing swimming holes located above and below the falls.

Directions:
From Smugglers’ Notch Resort, turn left onto Rt. 108 South towards Stowe. Proceeding through the Notch you will travel approximately 6 miles before reaching two large gravel parking areas on either side of the road. The sign is located high in the trees on the left side of the road (.5 miles before the Mt. Mansfield Toll Rd.). The trail begins by the sign (take note of the map on the sign). Stay on the trail for about 5 minutes before reaching the river. You will hear the falls below you. The path also turns left, allowing you to explore upstream. To view the falls from below, turn right at the river and walk down one of the paths (the one towards the woods is generally an easier approach). The swimming holes will be visible.

Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch to the parking area, approximately 10 minutes.

Precautions:
Water currents sometimes produce strong undertows and it may be unsafe to swim in the river. River rocks are extremely slippery, irregular shaped, and may cause you to lose your balance. Exercise caution along the river banks as there are no fences. Poison ivy may be present.
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Moss Glen Falls
Stowe, VT
Vertical Rise 200'
Easiest

Description and Highlights:
Admire these majestic falls from a scenic winding path in the woods that leads to the prime viewing spot. These are the highest and most dramatic falls of the three described in the Self-Guided Hikes. This is an ideal location for the artist or photographer to capture an exceptional image of nature.

Directions:
From Smugglers’ Notch Resort, turn left onto Rt. 108 South towards Stowe. Drive to the T-intersection of Rt. 108 and Rt. 100 in the village of Stowe. Turn left on Rt. 100 for 3 miles. Turn right onto Randolph Rd. Take the next right onto Moss Glen Falls Rd. and follow it for about .5 miles to the small parking area. Parking will be straight ahead, before the bridge and the hill. The trail begins in the parking area, taking you by the river and into the woods. This well-defined trail will lead you up the hill and to the falls. It is about a 5 min. walk.

Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch to the parking area, approximately 30 minutes.
Driving distance - round trip, 33 miles.
Hiking time - round trip, 25 minutes.
Hiking distance - round trip, 1 mile.

Precautions:
Water currents sometimes produce strong undertows and it may be unsafe to swim in the river. River rocks are extremely slippery, irregular shaped, and may cause you to lose your balance. Exercise caution along the river banks as there are no fences. Poison ivy may be present.
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Nebraska Notch (Mansfield Trout Club)
Moscow, VT
Elevation 1850'
Vertical Rise 650'
More Difficult

Description and Highlights:
Explore the “other” notch with its beautiful view of Lake Mansfield and the valley below from the top of this trail. Stroll along this historic trail enjoying the lush vegetation and signs of wildlife as you slowly but steadily climb to the waterfalls. This picturesque setting allows you to marvel at nature’s beauty. Shortly, you will pass by an active beaver pond on your right after crossing a few small streams. The trail leads to Taylor Lodge (Long Trail hikers’ shelter) which is your destination. Enjoy the view from the Lodge back down the Nebraska Valley.

Directions:
Leaving Smugglers’ Notch Resort, turn left onto Rt. 108 South towards Stowe for about 10 miles. Watch for the Interstate 89 Alternate Route sign on your right (across from the Rocky Ridge Lodge). Take a sharp right onto this road (Luce Rd.) and follow it until you come to Barrows Rd. Turn left onto Barrows Rd. There will be a stop sign at the end of the road. Turn right (Moscow Rd.) and drive for about 5 miles (Moscow Rd./Nebraska Valley Rd.). You are now at the Mansfield Trout Club. This is a private club, so please use the upper parking lot close to the Lake Mansfield Trail sign. From the sign, follow the blue blazed trail to your destination of Taylor Lodge. Return the same way on the blue blazed trail, and as a courtesy to the Trout Club, be careful not to walk on the road as you approach the club area.

Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch to the trail head, 30 minutes.
Hiking distance - round trip, 3.6 miles.
Hiking time - round trip, approximately 2 hours plus time on top.

Precautions:
There are a few places on the trail that require walking on rocks, which can be slippery when wet.
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Mt. Mansfield - East
Stowe, VT
Elevation 4393'
Vertical Rise 2793'
Experts Only

Description and Highlights:
Approach Vermont’s highest mountain peak on the east side via the Long Trail. Enjoy shaded woods and babbling brooks as you climb to the summit. Glance at the open ledges above you to see your destination. At the summit, view the many mountain ranges seen in New Hampshire, New York and into Canada, as well as the peaks and valleys of Vermont including Lake Champlain. Enjoy the rare alpine flora found along the peak.

Directions:
Leaving Smugglers’ Notch Resort, turn left onto Route 108 South through the Notch for approximately 4.5 miles. Park in the designated area on the right hand side of the road. Walk along the road a few feet south to the trail head marked by a Long Trail South sign. Follow the white blazes of the Long Trail to the summit. Along the way, at 1.7 miles, Taft Lodge can be found on a short side trail to your left. Continue your ascent on the Long Trail (white blazes). At Eagle Pass you will find an intersection of trails. The Long Trail continues left and up, with the Adam’s Apple trail heading right. Follow the Long Trail up the open ledges to the summit. Return to Route 108 using the same path. Special note: In the event of inclement weather, you may want to ascend or descend via Profanity Trail to avoid the open ledges between Eagle Pass and the summit. Profanity offers more protection from the weather. To ascend, access to Profanity Trail can be found just above Taft Lodge on the Long Trail. The trail heads left with blue blazes. To descend via Profanity Trail, follow the Long Trail a short distance south from the summit, known as the Chin. You will reach an intersection for Sunset Ridge Trail and Profanity Trail. Turn left to descend Profanity Trail, rejoining the Long Trail at Taft Lodge.

Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch Resort to trail head, 10 minutes.
Driving distance - round trip, 9 miles.
Hiking time - round trip, approximately 5 hours plus time on top.
Hiking distance - round trip, 4.6 miles.

Precautions:
This is a strenuous hike because of the rugged terrain and a steep ascent. Weather conditions can change quickly and drastically. Bringing a trail map is recommended. Be prepared with appropriate layers of clothing as weather can change quickly and temperatures often drop towards the top.
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Mt. Mansfield West
Underhill, VT
Elevation 4393'
Vertical Rise 2593'
Experts Only

Description and Highlights:
Approach Vermont’s highest mountain peak from its west side via the Sunset Ridge Trail. This challenging hike is well worth the views attained from the open ridge as well as the peak. An initial climb through the beautiful forest leads you to the open ridge of this trail. Once you reach the summit (the Chin), Lake Champlain, New York, New Hampshire, and Canada can be seen. Mount Mansfield is one of only a few peaks in the Green Mountains that is above tree-line. The alpine flora found here is rare.

Directions:
Leaving Smugglers’ Notch Resort, turn left onto Route 108 North to Jeffersonville. As you approach Jeffersonville, stay left at the intersection. Proceed through this stop sign and turn almost immediately left onto the Upper Valley Road (just before Smugglers’ Notch Inn). Drive approximately 4.2 miles until reaching a yield sign at the bottom of a short descent. Turn left onto the Lower Valley Road. Drive approximately 5.5 miles. Turn left at the sign for Underhill State Park. Once on the road you will see the labeled sign, Mountain Road. Drive 3 miles to the State Park. As there’s a day use fee, you will need to check in with the ranger (information and trail maps are available at the cabin). Start your hike by continuing up the road for about a mile. There will be a bulletin board and register. The Sunset Ridge Trail begins here. Follow the blue blazes of the Sunset Ridge Trail until you intersect the Long Trail white blazes) near the summit. Turn left onto the Long Trail and follow it a short distance to the summit. Return via the same trails to Underhill State Park.

Driving time from Smugglers' Notch Resort to the trail head, 30 minutes.
Driving distance - round trip, approximately 36 miles.
Hiking time - round trip, approximately 5 hours plus time on top.
Hiking distance - round trip, 6.6 miles.

Precautions: This is a strenuous hike because of the rugged terrain and steep ascent. Weather conditions can change quickly and visibility may lessen until you will only be able to see the rock cairns (piles of rocks) to guide you on the trail when above the tree-line. Bringing a trail map is recommended. Be prepared with appropriate layers of clothing as weather can change quickly and temperatures often drop towards the top.
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Sterling Pond
Jeffersonville, VT
Elevation 3000'
Vertical Rise 880'
Most Difficult

Description and Highlights:
Climb to the top of Sterling Mountain to the highest trout pond in the state. Fishing license required for ages 15 & older. Take in views of Smugglers’ Notch Resort and the Lamoille River Valley as you ascend. Enjoy this portion of the Long Trail; a trail that runs the length of the state. As you near Sterling Pond, examine the talc outcroppings that are located here and on some of the other ridges of the Green Mountains. Relax along the wooded shore of this pond and its natural setting.

Directions:
Leaving Smuggler’ Notch Resort, turn left onto Route 108 South towards Stowe for about three miles. Park at the top of the Notch in the parking area. The trail is located directly across the road from the information booth. Look for a Long Trail sign and register. Follow the white blazes to a T-intersection (about a 35-45 minute ascent). The Long Trail (white blazes) connects at this T-intersection with a wider ski trail (Snuffy’s). Turn left at the sign for Sterling Pond Shelter. It is a short walk to the pond. Return to Route 108 on the same trail. To obtain views of the mountains to the west and north, follow the white blazed trail around the end of the pond through the woods until you reach an intersection with a wider road leading up from Sterling Pond. Turn left off the Long Trail and up a short rise to a clearing for the top of Sterling Lift. You will see a warming hut and the lift to your right. Return to the pond by the same route.

Optional side trip to Spruce Peak: It is possible to make a short jaunt by way of Stowe Resort’s ski trails over to Spruce Peak. This would afford views into the Notch, across to Mount Mansfield and down the Stowe Valley. Allow approximately an half hour (15 min. out and back) plus any time on top for this side trip. You will also gain roughly another 320' in elevation.

Directions:
When you reach the T-intersection of the Long Trail with Snuffy’s ski trail, turn right and follow Snuffy’s trail until it intersects a larger ski trail (Sterling ski trail on Spruce Peak). Take note of the unlabeled wood plaque in the trees as you leave Snuffy’s. This helps mark Snuffy’s for your return back towards Sterling Pond. Ascend the Sterling ski trail to the top of Big Spruce Lift. Return to Smugglers’ on the same trails.

Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch Resort to the trail head, 5 minutes.
Driving distance - round trip, 6 miles.
Hiking distance - round trip, 2.4 miles.
Hiking time - round trip, approximately 2 hours plus time on top.

Precautions: The first section of the trail is steep and could be compared to “stair stepping.” The rocks and tree roots are very slippery when wet.
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Elmore Mountain
Elmore, VT
Elevation 2,608'
Vertical Rise 1450'
More/Most Difficult

Description and Highlights:
Located in Elmore State Park this mountain is part of the Worcester Range and affords a 360 degree view from the lookout tower on the summit. With Lake Elmore below you, the Green Mountains extending north to south (Jay Peak to Camel’s Hump, with Mt. Mansfield in the center) it gives a commanding view of the Lamoille Valley. In addition to the beautiful landscape, gliders from the nearby Morrisville/Stowe airport soar directly overhead.

Directions:
Leaving Smugglers’ Notch Resort turn right onto Rt. 108 South to Jeffersonville. Take Rt.15 East from Jeffersonville through Johnson to Morrisville. At the traffic light on Rt. 15 take Rt. 100 South through the village to the intersection with the red flashing light. Take Rt. 12 south (left turn) for about 4 miles. Elmore State Park is on the right. Inquire at the Ranger’s booth for a map of the hiking trail and directions to the trail head. Once on the trail follow the blue blazes marked on the trees and rocks. Special note: There is a day use fee. The Park is open mid-May to October (Columbus Day). The trail begins on a service road which eventually narrows to a winding path in the woods. Before reaching the very steep rock scrambling area just under the summit (thus the rating most difficult), the old ranger’s cabin foundation stands in a large cleared area to the left of the trail. At this point the Lake, a view of the valley and the White Mountains to the east can be obtained and would be a good destination point if the remaining trail seems too rocky and steep. The summit is wooded with a very small clearing around the base of the fire tower. Return to the parking area using the same trail and enjoy a swim in the lake at the day use beach.

Balanced Rock Trail: A spur trail (1 mile round trip) located near the summit and marked by blue and yellow blazes offers rewarding views to the west from secluded large boulders. There is also a “balanced” glacier rock along the trail. This trail is rather lengthy, narrow, and isolated but is well worth the extra mileage and time. Be sure to return on the same trail back along the ridge to the summit before descending on the blue blazed trail.

Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch Resort to the trail head, 45 minutes.
Driving distance - round trip, 60 miles.
Hiking time - round trip, approximately 3 hours.
Hiking distance - round trip, approximately 4.5 miles.
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Jay Peak
Jay, VT
Elevation 3861'
Vertical Rise 1680'
Most Difficult

Description and Highlights:
Admire the view of this impressive peak from below as well as the views from the summit. Being the fifth highest mountain in the state and 10 miles from the Canadian border, several Canadian Peaks can be seen along with the mountain ranges of New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Jay offers the northernmost ski area in Vermont and has an aerial tramway which is open to the public in the Summer and Fall to allow access to the summit. The tramway is located at the base of the ski area, whereas the trail starts in Jay Pass on Rt. 242. The trail is part of the Long Trail and climbs steeply in the woods for the majority of the hike until reaching a ski trail above tree-line. It crosses a ski trail and ascends to the open summit over rocks (some rock scrambling involved) for the last portion of the hike.

Directions:
Leaving Smugglers’ Notch Resort turn left onto Rt. 108 South to Jeffersonville. Take Rt. 15 East to Johnson. In Johnson take Rt. 100 C to Hyde Park where it merges with Rt. 100. Follow Rt. 100 to Troy. Take Rt. 101 North for about 3 miles. Take Rt. 242 West to Jay. Continue on this road, through the intersection and for about 5 miles. The parking area is on the left and is at the top of the pass. The trail is marked by white blazes on the trees and rocks and is across the road. Once at the summit return via the same trail. For the return drive, go west on Rt. 242 (opposite direction from which you came) to Montgomery Center. Take Rt. 118 So. to Belvidere Corners. Take Rt. 109 to Jeffersonville.

Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch Resort to the trail head, 50 minutes.
Driving distance - round trip, approximately 85 miles.
Hiking time - round trip, approximately 3 hours plus time on top.
Hiking distance - round trip, approximately 3.5 miles.

Precautions: Jay Peak is an open summit mountain with rugged terrain near the top and high in elevation. Weather conditions can change quickly and visibility may lessen to only a few feet in front of you. Follow the rock cairns (piles of rocks) to guide you on the trail when above the tree-line. There is a building on top to take cover in, but it is rustic and has no facilities.
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Stowe Pinnacle
Stowe, VT
Elevation 2651'
Vertical Rise 1520'
More Difficult

Description and Highlights:
A very popular hike above the village of Stowe takes you to a rocky out cropping on Hogback Mountain (part of the Worcester Range) that overlooks the valley and captures an outstanding view of Mt. Mansfield and the Sterling Ridge (back side of the Resort’s mountains). The well traveled wooded trail climbs gradually with the use of switchbacks. As you gain elevation it becomes a little rocky and steep in sections just before the Pinnacle. This relatively short hike rewards you with the perfect place to rest and enjoy the scenery beyond and below.

Directions:
Leaving Smugglers’ Notch Resort, turn left onto Rt. 108 South to Stowe. At the three way intersection turn left onto Rt. 100 North. Drive a very short distance, about .2 miles and take a right onto School Street (sign hidden behind utility pole). At about .4 mile bear right at the fork onto Stowe Hollow Road. Continue straight (2 miles) and uphill. This is now Upper Hollow Rd. Drive past Pinnacle Rd.(on your left), and just ahead on your left is the sign and parking area for the Pinnacle Trail (2.5 miles). Follow the blue blazed trail which starts from the parking lot, crosses a small field and continues into the woods. Once at the top, return to the parking area using the same trail.

Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch Resort to the trail head, approximately 25 minutes.
Driving distance - round trip, approximately 30 miles.
Hiking time- round trip, approximately 2 hours plus time on top.
Hiking distance - round trip, 2.8 miles.
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Little River State Park
Waterbury, VT
Elevation 1500'
Vertical Rise 650'
Easiest/More Difficult

Description and Highlights:
A piece of Old Vermont awaits you on these hiking trails. Experience these historic sites on the hillside that was once a farming community in the early 1800’s with the assistance of an interpretive brochure and trail map (located at the park entrance booth and at the beginning of the trail). Walk along old country roads and view the remains of stone walls, foundations, cemeteries, orchards, the last standing farmhouse and what once was open farmland. Let history come alive as you read the brochure and explore the territory at your leisure. The recommended route is the Dalley Loop Trail clockwise to Hedgehog Hill Trail following the well traveled blue blazed trail.

Directions:
Leaving Smugglers’ Notch Resort turn left onto Rt. 108 South to Stowe. At the three way intersection in Stowe take Rt. 100 South to Waterbury. Drive over Interstate 89 to the intersection of Rt. 100 & Rt. 2. Take Rt. 2 West for about 1 mile to the Little River State Park sign and take this road to the park entrance. Inquire at the entrance booth for the “History Hike” brochure. Drive just beyond the booth, turn left and follow this park road past the Nature Trail parking sign on the right to the Historic Trail parking area on the right. The walking trail starts across the road at the gate. Special Note: There is a day use fee. The park is open mid May — October (Columbus Day).

Driving time from Smugglers’ Notch Resort to the trail head, 40 minutes.
Driving distance - round trip, 54 miles.
Hiking time - round trip, 2.5 hours.
Hiking distance, 3.1 miles.
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