5 Things to do at Smugglers Notch (Vermont)

Vermont is quickly becoming one of my favorite states to revisit again and again and Smugglers Notch is one of the reasons why. In this post, I want to show you 5 things to do if you visit this amazing area.

Here are the 5 things I recommend you do at Smugglers Notch:

  1. Check out Bingham Falls.5 Things to do at Smugglers Notch (Vermont)
  2. Do the scenic drive in Smugglers Notch.
  3. Explore the hikes near and in Smugglers Notch.
  4. Check out the beautiful Stowe Mountain Resort nearby.
  5. Explore Stowe Village and the amazing restaurants there.

You can do most of these things in a day if you’re visiting Smugglers Notch like I was, but for weekend trips, you’ll also find that these 5 activities will pass the time as well.

My history with Smugglers Notch:

I first discovered this region of Vermont accidentally while exploring the state on my first ever road trip there.

My friend and I had no plan to visit this area, nor did we know what Stowe Mountain, Smugglers Notch or Vermont had to offer. We just went into this state “blind”, improvised and are extremely fortunate to have stumbled onto this place.

As soon as we explored the scenic drive in this area and did a little bit of hiking there, we knew we would have to come back and we did, 3 times since.

Being that I live in New York City and don’t get a chance to fly out very often to see the other areas I’ve explored, I compensate for that time lost by visiting beautiful areas “nearby” and in addition to the Catskills, Smugglers Notch and Vermont in general are becoming recurring trips I do, each time exploring more and more in every region.

If you enjoy nature, then I can promise you that Smugglers Notch delivers in more ways than I can explain (But I’ll try).

1) Check out Bingham Falls:

bingham falls smugglers notch

Bingham Falls is an iarea in Smugglers Notch that features waterfalls, swimming holes and plenty of scenic views.

I only found out about this area after visiting Smugglers Notch 4 times. I saw signs for this place and was surprised at the lack of marketing it gets.

On weekends though, this place fills up so if that bugs you, visit this place very early or on a weekday.

Anyway, it has a very beautiful waterfall and a cascade of little waterfalls and gorges, many of which are accessible to cliff jumping and swimming.

I was very impressed with how beautiful the gorges were and had the chance to swim in some of them. The beauty in these areas reminded me of the hidden waterfall on Sombrio beach I found long ago on Vancouver Island.

Here is an example of one of the beautiful gorges there:

bingham falls gorge

2) The scenic drive in Smugglers Notch

smugglers notch scenic drive

Ok, so I honestly think that the scenic drive in Smugglers Notch is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and I know a lot about scenic drives and have done many of them.

I even have a list of the top 15 scenic drives to do in North America, and the drive through Smugglers Notch is so beautiful that I had to post it there.

It deserves to be on that list, and frankly, on any list of scenic drives out there, especially in Vermont. I’m certain you’ll see why when you drive through there and I have a drive through video I made while doing it.

The picture you see to the right is me exploring a section of this scenic road and the beauty is that parking is available in many areas throughout this drive. In this case, my friend and I just stopped at one of them to explore Smugglers Notch a bit more and do one of the many hikes available there (it’s the next thing to do on this list0.

I’m about to share a little taste of the beauty you will see on the Smugglers Notch scenic road and keep in mind, that this recording doesn’t show everything.

To fully experience it, I recommend you go there and do the drive yourself, and if you do, I would absolutely love to hear what you thought of it! My next goal is to visit this area during the fall season and see the beautiful colors of the trees and leaves there. It’ll make for some amazing nature photos.

Anyway, here is the scenic drive I recorded while going through Smugglers Notch:

3) Explore the hiking spots in and near Smugglers Notch:

smugglers notch caves

Not only is the scenic drive in Smugglers Notch unbelievable but so are the hiking trails.

I’ve only had time to do one at the Smugglers Notch welcome center, which is unbelievable, but there are at least 5 or more hikes nearby that are challenging, yet beautiful and give you a very scenic view of Smugglers Notch, Stowe and nearby mountains such as Mt. Mansfield.

The pictures you see here, where I’m standing in a cave and the picture of the beautiful overlook is near this area so if you are looking to recreate the same hike I did, you can do that here.

I do want to warn you though that some hikes in this region as dangerous and off trail where boulders are known to fall, so I do recommend staying the main trails.

Also when it rains, I have to say that this particular area is gorgeous (but not for hiking). You will see tons of tiny waterfalls form off the top of the mountain and streams right by this area too.

That’s what happened the first time I explored this area of Smugglers Notch and it’s stayed with me ever since.

smugglers notch scenic hike

Here are just some of the most memorable hikes you’ll find in Smugglers Notch:

  • Sterling Pond.
  • The hike right by the Smugglers Notch’s welcome center (parking area).
  • Mt. Mansfield.
  • Other hikes right by this region (you can’t miss them).
  • A natural spring area.
  • The short hiking trails right by the scenic road. This particular option is great for kids and people who don’t really want to do some of the longer hikes in this region.

The views from any of the hikes in Smugglers Notch are amazing and if you enjoy hiking in general, you’ll want to explore all of them in this region.

Everytime I return to Smugglers Notch, I always make sure to explore at least one new hike in this area. You’ll find plenty of trail heads and maps in every area there to use for reference on what you choose to explore.

4) Check out Stowe Mountain Ski Resort:

As you travel south along the scenic road, you will pass Stowe Mountain resort, which technically means you’re out of Smugglers Notch but it’s so close by that it doesn’t matter and considering how beautiful this particular area is, I think you won’t mind coming here, or even staying here.

This place is a ski resort and the way it looks, is like a medieval town. In fact I think it looks as good, if not better than Canada’s Whistler which I saw on my Western Canada road trip not too long ago.

Anyway, it’s a hotel and ski resort which is very popular during the winter season, but you can probably find some good open spots in the off season too. While the prices are high, exploring this area is well worth it if you visit Smugglers Notch.

5) Explore Stowe Village:

Smugglers Notch is one of the only regions in Vermont that I know off that has such an awesome collection of restaurants and places to see nearby, which in this case is Stowe Village which is about a 10 minute drive from Smugglers Notch itself.

After you finish all of the hiking, driving, picture taking and so forth, finishing the day by stopping at one of the restaurants there is highly recommended and the restaurant that I checked out last time is called “The Bench”.

As for staying at hotels, off the 3 times I’ve visited Smugglers Notch, I’ve always stayed at the Fairfield, Marriott there and I’ve always been happy to do it.

Other activities you can do in Smugglers Notch:

  • Mountain biking.
  • Hiking other areas nearby.
  • Skiing and other snow sports during the winter.
  • And just more sight seeing (there’s a lot to see).

Other areas nearby Smugglers Notch worth visiting:

If you want to stay in the Vermont region, then checking out Green Mountain National Forest is highly recommended if you want to check out beautiful hikes, swimming holes and more.

If you wish to leave the state or explore more places like this in Vermont, there’s more options available:

Depending on which direction you go, there’s always going to be things to see around the Smugglers Notch region but if you have specific questions or need ideas on where to go, let me know below.

Overall, Smugglers Notch is a highly recommended place to visit and the hikes and scenic drives alone make this place worthwhile. If you know a lot about Smugglers Notch too and have some personal recommendations on what there is to do there, feel free to add your ideas below.

6 thoughts on “5 Things to do at Smugglers Notch (Vermont)”

  1. This looks like a beautiful area to visit! It is a part of the United States that I have not visited and I will definitely consider it for my next trip.

    I am a hiker, but not extreme. Are the trails clearly marked for degree of difficulty?

    I really like what you said about the misty weather. I actually prefer a day like that to full sunshine, too.

    Great helpful with my planning!

    Ruby

    Reply
    • Great to meet another hiker Ruby! I didn’t get a good look at the trail markers, but you should check them out prior to see if they are indeed marked with a difficulty.

      Reply
  2. My wife and I are planning a trip to New England in October, and we are planning on spending a couple nights in Stowe, so this post came in handy.

    That looked like a beautiful drive, so we will add it to our list of things to do while there. I’ve heard that the ski resort offers zip lining. But I’m not sure if they offer it in October or not. If we’re able to hit it, I’ll come back and update the comments.

    Reply
    • Oh that’s awesome Dustin! Make sure to visit that location and possible even Ausable Chasm if you have the chance!

      Reply
  3. When I was young, my parents took me to New Hampshire and upstate New York for vacation. Not sure why we never went through Vermont. When I was an adult, I visited Vermont going up Route 100, which is a beautiful scenic drive. I did drive up Stowe Mountain once and it was great. If you are looking for great scenery, then Vermont is a great place to check out.

    Reply
    • Agreed, although I will admit, I did a secondary drive through other areas of Vermont and it was very boring, with endless fields/farms. It’s way better to pick out the scenic locations and head there, then from there, find another, it’ll make the trip much better.

      Reply

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