When my daughter Aria and I visited Smugglers’ Notch Resort in 2023 winter was in full swing. A late snowstorm in March blanketed the mountain and surrounding area with fresh powder. We couldn’t have chosen a better time to explore this iconic resort and try a host of their winter activities from snowboarding to tubing to snowshoeing. It was the perfect time to play at Smuggs.
Staying at Smuggs
The first thing we did when arriving at the snowy wonderland was check into our condo at Trailside Highlands. Our condo had everything you could want for an extended stay including a fully equipped kitchen. All the lodging at Smuggs have cable TV, a landline phone, internet access, linens, cookware, dishware, glassware, utensils, and laundry facilities. We also had a gear locker located at the entryway of the condo so we didn’t have to worry about bringing our wet gear inside.
The condo we were in had two bright and sunny bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a fireplace in each living space, and a jet tub in the main bedroom. The jet tub was an amazing feature after a particularly snowy day on the hill. And the fire was wonderful to enjoy after catching the last chair to the condo at the end of the day.
Whether you’re traveling solo, with the kiddos, or sharing lodging with family or friends, Smuggs has you covered. Do you need a studio? A five-bedroom condo? Want more of a woodland setting or would you rather be close to all of the amenities? While there are several location choices, everywhere is accessible by a short, free shuttle ride. The Smuggs Shuttle runs daily from 8:00 am to 10:45 pm and the drivers are top notch. Even with the wintry conditions that we experienced, we always felt like we were in good hands.
Pro tip: Digging out the car after your stay? There is a snow shovel located in the tenant’s utility closet along with recycling bins and extra trash bags.
Snowboarding at Smuggs
The mountains at Smuggs are charming and have a wild and undeveloped feel, with upper-mountain areas offering stunning views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and valleys. We began our wild week of snow play at the lower Morse Mountain.
The 3 Mountain Equipment shop got us kicked off with rentals for our stay. They offer a ton of options for both youth and adults. Knowing that all of the rentals and gear are selected specifically for you and your littles offers peace of mind to folks new to the mountain. The rental shop hours are 8:00 am – 4:30 pm Monday to Thursday, and stay open a little later Friday through Sunday; closing up shop at 7:30 pm.
The Demo shop is a great place to pick up any last-minute comfort items you might need for a day out on the mountain and can also do custom boot fittings with a reservation. If you’re bringing your gear, you can have it repaired or tuned at the demo shop or scour the inventory for deals.
Pro Tip: With a little advanced notice, you can pick up your rentals the afternoon or evening before you check-in.
Once we were fully outfitted with rental gear; boards, boots, bindings, goggles, and helmets, and with our Notch Card in hand, we made our way to Sir Henry’s First Timers Area.
Given that our condo at the Trailside Highlands was so close to the Morse Highlands Lift (which runs from 9 am to 4 pm) we spent most of our time on the easy trails nearby, treating Morse Mountain as its own subresort. Morse Mountain is home to Smuggs’ green-rated terrain. The resort’s larger mountains—Madonna and Sterling—do not have any beginner runs.
While Morse does have a few trails rated as blues and blacks, they are geared towards beginners, and the isolation from more advanced skier traffic makes for an excellent learning environment. Trails are winding and narrow in places like “Sam’s Run”, “Garden Path”, and “Timberr!” These top out as our most favored. All of the trails that we experienced, though, were amazing. We couldn’t beat the conditions, as we really hit the Snow Jackpot! The lift attendants were helpful and encouraging as it was Aria’s first time in such deep snow, which made the first few runs a fun learning curve.
Pro Tips: Whenever we visit a new mountain, we head to the beginners’ area first to get ourselves ready for the day and plan our approach. We also got a sneak peek at the Snow Tubing operation we’d be visiting later during the week.
The lift rides can feel especially long and cold with the kiddos sometimes, and a nice thing about Smuggs is that both Morse Mountain lifts and the Madonna chair have mid-station unloading, so guests can get off early if needed. You can also take a break at the warming huts found at the peak of each mountain before you start down the hill.
Tubing at Smuggs
Next up on our snowy adventure was tubing at Sir Henry’s which is located right next to the learning hill. The tubing hill staff were awesome and showed Aria how to ride, stop, and exit the tubing area safely and independently. Aria loved riding in her own tube and racing me side by side in the well-groomed lanes.
Smuggs offers both daytime and nighttime tubing experiences (check out the Glow Tubing offered Tuesday & Friday from 5:00 pm – 8:00). Glow Tubing is especially fun as LED lights in myriad colors add a special kind of magic to the nighttime experience.
Sir Henry’s Hill and North Hill are both great spots for tubing, and the friendly staff makes it easy to jump in and get started. Tubes are provided and your Notch Card will get you in. Tubing hours and venues change based on the day and time of your visit, so it’s a good idea to plan. All riders must be 36 inches tall (at North Hill) and 42 inches(at Sir Henry’s Hill).
The tubing hills are equipped with a magic carpet, so if you’re new to the mountain you won’t need to get used to an aerial lift. There is also no requirement for gear other than good winter boots and your winter clothing. No ski boots allowed as it can damage the tubes),
Pro tips: Hand warmers are great to bring along on a cold day or night tubing trip.
There isn’t a space to store belongings at tubing hill, so stash your snacks in jacket pockets.
Dining at Smuggs
After each full day of snowboarding, tubing, and adventuring at Smuggler’s Notch, we were incredibly grateful to have such varied and tasty dining options. To get this All Mountain Mama out of bed, Perk Specialty Cafe located in the country store was a great spot to grab a coffee and a homemade muffin. Aria loved the smoothies!
While we had stocked our fridge from the vast selection of provisions at the country story, it was nice to stop in on occasion for a quick snack at the Green Mountain Deli (try the sandwiches!) As for dinner options, the fan favorite was the Morse Mountain Grille & Pub which had a kids’ menu with so many options. The Pub has a casual sit-down vibe with plenty of space to unwind and enjoy dinner after a long and fun day on and off the mountain. The fish and chips, burgers, and local beers are all amazing.
We also loved the Village Pizzeria with made-to-order favorites. We opted for a pepperoni pizza which made it to our table in about 15 minutes and gave us a chance to enjoy our drinks and chat about our favorite trails and plans for the next day.
Of course, no trip to Vermont would be complete without a trip to Ben & Jerry’s, located just downstairs from Village Pizzeria. The flavors change throughout the season, and we enjoyed cookie dough and strawberry cheesecake respectively. The staff at all of the eateries at the resort were all incredibly kind, and willing to go above and beyond. We felt very welcome!
We loved staying at Smuggler’s Notch for many reasons; the awesome beginners’ trails, the spacious and family-friendly lodging choices, the easy rental experience, and the engaging off-mountain activities. If you’re looking for some time on the mountain with your family or want to make new friends along the way, Smuggs makes it easy to jump right in with the snowsports community and play!
Rachel is the Owner/Transformationalist at Rachel Hailey & Associates Consulting, a firm which deals directly with the outdoor industry to foster DEI in organizations. Her main objective is to transform the outdoor industry into a diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible space. Rachel is committed to creating an industry where anyone can experience, thrive, and lead in the out of doors no matter their circumstances, and has a focus on underserved and underrepresented communities. She has served and inspired over 100 organizations in the creation of actionable systems aligned with creating diversity, equity, and inclusion in outdoor spaces. She is a frequent writer for industry publications like Adventure Park Insider and Ski Area Management, and has given talks on DEI & Social Justice on international platforms.Outside of her endeavor to bridge the gap between racial and ethnic diversity in the outdoors and social justice, Rachel can be found hunting fairies in the woods with her daughter.