Smuggler's Notch

Discuss Fall Foliage in Vermont, when to come, where to stay, where to take a tour etc. Note: You must be registered in order to post. If you have trouble registering, use the contact us form on Scenes of Vermont's home page.

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sharan
Posts: 74
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 12:01 am
Location: Texas

Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3577Post sharan
Wed Oct 26, 2005 2:33 pm

I know the season is basically over so I guess there won't be many people here to talk to. If anyone is listening, could you please tell me about the drive through Smuggler's Notch. What is it like during foliage season? I read somewhere that there is a portion that is only one lane---is that true? Is it actually part of route 108? I would really like to drive from Stowe to Jeffersonville on 108 but is seems like it might be a harrowing ride! Especially for those of us who aren't used to driving in the mountains. I am already working on plans to visit there next year-I am trying to decide on the best place to stay for several nights and have good access to several areas. I'm just having a really hard time picturing this route thru Smuggler's Notch. Thanks for your help!


Ballymote
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 12:01 am
Location: New Jersey

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3578Post Ballymote
Wed Oct 26, 2005 4:01 pm

I just came back from my first visit to Vermont. We put 1000 miles on the car driving from south to north and back down. It's funny you mention Smugglers Notch because I think that area was maybe the most colorful of the entire trip. Over all, the color was good but not great. I do not recall the roads being treacherous and we did go from Smuggler's Notch to Stowe. I do remember ONE one lane bridge where a red light made you wait until the car coming in the other direction safely crossed the bridge before you enter it.

Overal, Vermont was a very pretty state with an abundance of lakes and mountains and great views around every bend in the road. Enjoy!!

By the way, if you want to send me an e-mail I can show you some of the pictures I took during my 3 day visit at the end of last week.

I can be reached at [email protected]

Frank

Aspen
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2005 12:01 am

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3579Post Aspen
Wed Oct 26, 2005 4:53 pm

Stowe is a wonderful place to visit. Pick up a free "poster" map of Stowe from visitor's center, restaurants or offices of lodgings. The poster map is a great map! Lists so much to see and do in Stowe.(Many towns have these "poster" maps) We used Stowe as a two night "home base" to get around in Northeast and Central Vermont. Route 108 has lots of lodgings and many nice restaurants! Route 108 in Stowe leads you directly to Smuggler's Notch; driving on straight to Jeffersonville. Smuggler's Notch is a drive on a curving/snaking road through granite walls and boulders. (It is not driving up or down a steep mountain such as the 4 and a half mile toll road at Mt.Mansfield...another heart beating thrill!!) I understand your anxiety, had it but you will not want to miss Smuggler's Notch! At some huge boulders, the two way road narrows to one lane. Just drive very slowly (if you are nervous at any turn around a boulder, do not be afraid to warn drivers you are coming with a tap to your horn) for both safety and taking in the lovely sights. There are some areas where you may pull over to park, get out and walk around to take pictures. We saw someone pulling a travel trailer at Smuggler's Notch. The turn around a boulder was difficult for the driver and resulted to the trailer's scraping its entire side on a boulder. :( Don't recommend pulling a trailer!! Check the foliage forum on some past postings of Smuggler's Notch. Locals from Vermont had high recommendations of the drive. They may be able to provide you with more advise. During the Fall foliage, Smuggler's Notch has very pretty colors which adds to the beauty of the area.

pwt54
Moderator
Posts: 2749
Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2002 12:01 am
Location: johnson,vermont,usa

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3580Post pwt54
Wed Oct 26, 2005 5:49 pm

Over the centuries boulders the size of a house have broken off the ledges and settled next to the road. There is one section of route 108 that is one lane going around these boulders. The road is paved all the way through this area, however. It is easier to drive through the "Notch" going to Stowe to Jeffersonville. The tricky section is less than 1/2 of a mile. It's worth the drive.

dkramer
Posts: 64
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 12:01 am

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3581Post dkramer
Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:05 am

Agreed with all above. Sharan, I think this is a drive not to be missed. Not terribly steep, just windy. Park at the top of the Notch and take in the sites as well as a popular hike to Sterling Pond (haven't done it myself, but I hear it is great). Didn't we get you to drive up Roxbury Gap a couple of years back? Don't worry about this one...as pwt54 says, it's paved the whole way.

Take care,
Daniel


Aspen
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2005 12:01 am

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3582Post Aspen
Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:44 am

dkramer, is there a map of Smuggler's Notch area showing hiking trails, caves and the pond? Was unaware there was a pond in the area. Saw a sign in parking area pointing towards an area to head to see a cave. Went up in the directions of the arrow a bit to an opening that looked like a cave but not sure if it was what the sign was referring to? Saw no other arrows or signs to confirm what we found. The climb was not easy up and over rocks so we did not venture far. Anyone know how many caves are up there? Would welcome some locals' advise and recommendations for proper footwear used for hiking/walking up on the rocks in Vermont.

sharan
Posts: 74
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 12:01 am
Location: Texas

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3583Post sharan
Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:55 am

Thanks to all for helping me get a better picture of the area around Smuggler's Notch. Daniel, you have a great memory! It was me that you and PWT and Kerry Gough convinced to drive the Roxbury Gap road back in 2002. After that trip, I realized that the dirt roads of Vermont are nothing like the dirt roads here in Texas. I am planning a route for next year that includes Appalachian Gap, Brandon Gap, Lincoln Gap, and the Bethel Mountain Road. Can we drive all these roads in a mid size rental car? And I have been looking at Rt 32 from Ripton to Goshen. I think someone had asked about this road in an earlier post.

Frank, I would love to see your photos. I will send you an email but I wish you could share them with everyone here. It is always a great treat to see everyone's photos from all around the area. There have been some good ones this year.
Again, I would just like to say thank you to everyone here for sharing your knowledge and experiences. Everything from routes to travel, restaurants, helpful books etc. Things I would never know about without you guys. I love Vermont!

Ballymote
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 12:01 am
Location: New Jersey

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3584Post Ballymote
Thu Oct 27, 2005 12:36 pm

Would be happy to post my photos for everyone if someone could tell me where or how to do that. I use Google's "Picasso" to hold my photos...but...not sure how to direct you to that site..or even if it has viewing capabilities....Help...I am a functionally illiterate computer guy....

Frank

pwt54
Moderator
Posts: 2749
Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2002 12:01 am
Location: johnson,vermont,usa

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3585Post pwt54
Fri Oct 28, 2005 6:57 am

The "caves" are spaces under overlapping boulders that have fallen from the clifts above the parking area. There are fun to do and are not difficult. Don't be surprised to see ice in them in June.

pwt54
Moderator
Posts: 2749
Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2002 12:01 am
Location: johnson,vermont,usa

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3586Post pwt54
Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:04 am

Sharan, all of the roads you mentioned are easy drives for cars.

dkramer
Posts: 64
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 12:01 am

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3587Post dkramer
Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:37 pm

24Vermont,

Not sure about hiking maps. May be worth a Google search. The Green Mountain National Forest people should have some info as well as the Green Mountain Club. I know there are hiking books for Vermont which are usually available in local bookstores, etc. As far as I know, you just walk up the staircase of rocks opposite the boulders which make the 'caves' pwt mentioned. I believe it takes a good 45 minutes' hike to get up there.

sharan,

As pwt says, you should be fine. Just give your brakes a rest by switching into low gear at the very top of Lincoln/App gaps if you feel the car is working too hard to keep slow on the way down. I've never had a problem though, and I used to do gap roads in a Civic.

Aspen
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2005 12:01 am

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3589Post Aspen
Mon Oct 31, 2005 10:47 pm

Sharan and others who have been discussing some gaps in Vermont...are we missing out on something?? Curious, sounds like some gaps are something special?? Also, some descriptions make us think some may be steep, twists and turns with how you are discussing braking and downshifting. Would you mind sharing a bit about gaps to give us an idea what they may be like? Highlighted some gaps on our map to check out next time we head up to Vermont for Fall foliage but want an idea what to expect. Are there any
"must drive" and not miss gaps? By that, I mean favorites of locals and those who have driven some specific gaps? Amazing, there is still plenty to see and learn about in Vermont.
Hope things are improving up in Vermont for all who have been left without power from the recent snowfall.

dkramer
Posts: 64
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 12:01 am

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3591Post dkramer
Tue Nov 01, 2005 1:16 pm

Brief description from my vantage point...

App Gap: very twisty on the west side...steep too. Very well-maintained road...paved and passable all year. Nice parking area at top with decent vista.

Lincoln Gap: I've only been on east side...very narrow and sharp turns. Quite wooded...pretty (canopied), but no wonderful view in leafed seasons going up or down the east side (gap is closed in winter). Hike to summit of Mount Abraham from top of Gap is popular and is above the treeline (360 degree views). Needed first gear to give the car a brake, especially on the way down.

Middlebury Gap: Rather benign for a gap. Open year-round...Texas Falls near bottom on east side; Robsert Frost Interpretive Trail near Ripton on west side.

Roxbury Gap: this is in Waitsfield/Warren west -> Roxbury on the east side. Dirt for the steep and windy parts of the Gap. Top of Gap gives wide panoramic view of Mad River Valley from Lincoln Gap all the way to App Gap and north (all looking westward into the bowl of Sugarbush). Gorgeous...certainly one of the better 'top of Gap' vistas...probably the best panoramic view of the MRV.

Smugglers Notch: semi-steep, MOST twisty, but for only a short distance (1 mile or so). Road narrows to one rather wide lane for both directions combined (better than two VERY narrow lanes). Plenty of room to maneuver, but can be a tight squeeze in spots. Rock climbing and Sterling Pond hike at top of Notch. No views at the top (1000 foot cliffs on each side).

I can't speak for Hazen's Notch, Brandon Gap, and others, since I have not done them.

Hope that helps.

Daniel

Aspen
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2005 12:01 am

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3592Post Aspen
Tue Nov 01, 2005 3:53 pm

bm and dkramer, thanks for your sharing descriptions of some of the gaps...yikes... some descriptions sound like they may give your nerves a few jolts..I must feel anxious like Sharan did when some folks first encouraged her to brave Roxbury gap two years ago; however, considering an outsider like her survived it, indicates others can, too :roll: How was your experience driving Roxbury Gap, Sharan? Let's hear it from an outsider's viewpoint. Amazing to hear some folks' power has just been restored. Goodness if it was October, wonder what is ahead for some of you this winter??? Hope [email protected] has had power or did not have it too rough..have wondered how he fared up there at Seymour Lake when it snowed?!

sharan
Posts: 74
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 12:01 am
Location: Texas

Re: Smuggler's Notch

Post: # 3593Post sharan
Tue Nov 01, 2005 5:00 pm

Roxbury gap was a nice ride--not a problem drive at all---once I realized what the dirt roads in Vermont are like. I hope to do it again next year. I was somewhat nervous the first time and probably didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. But if I hadn't had the advice of this great forum, I probably would have never considered driving it. So from now on, if you guys say its a fine road for a car, then I will not hesitate.
Having been to Vermont twice now, I have realized that we need to slow down a little and not try to cover so much in one day! I want to spend a lot longer next year and also get in a whale watching cruise in Gloucester MA and a drive along the Mohawk trail. And even a trip back to the White Mountains. Whew!
My other big concern about Vermont is how hard is to find a place to pull over sometimes. That's why the suggestions for the back roads are so welcome. I will probably print them all out!
Vermont 24, we drove the Hazen's Notch road last year and it was really pretty although I think it was just past peak. It is unpaved most of the way but I don't recall it being too steep or windy. I would definitely recommend it if you can drive it at the right time.
Have a great day everyone! As long as y'all post here, I will keep reading. I would love to hear all about your Vermont experiences. Thanks!


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