Stream Along The Road During Autumn in Smugglers Notch State Park Vermont

Where is Smugglers Notch State Park

Located near Mount Mansfield, Smugglers Notch State Park resides entirely within the state of Vermont. The park is most well-known for containing Smugglers Notch; a peak on the Green Mountains. The peak separates Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in the Green Mountains from Spruce Peak and the Sterling Range. The closest city to Smugglers Notch State Park is Stowe, Vermont located in Lamoille County. The state park is located 100 miles and a two-hour drive south of Montreal, Quebec, 205 miles and a three-hour drive north of Boston, Massachusetts, and 246 miles and about a four-hour drive west of Portland, Maine. Smugglers Notch US State Park is also located near several other outdoor recreation areas. These recreation areas include Mount Mansfield State Forest, CC Putnam State Forest, and Camel’s Hump State Park.

How Large is Smugglers Notch State Park

Smuggler’s Notch State Park and the surrounding Mount Mansfield State Forest cover over 44,000 acres. The area’s geography mainly contains acres of dense forest, mountain peaks, and several riparian ecosystems. The Green Mountains contain five peaks that reach a height of over 4,000 feet. These peaks include Mount Mansfield, Camel’s Hump, and Mount Abraham. Smugglers Notch found within the park sits at an elevation of 2,119 feet. All of the major peaks found in the Green Mountain range can be traversed by visitors accessing the Long Trail. Several of the trails that start in Smugglers Notch State Park meander in and throughout the Mount Mansfield State Forest.

Smugglers Notch State Park Weather

The weather at Smugglers Notch State Park varies frequently throughout the year. In the summer, temperatures in the park average between 55- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. In winter, these temperatures cool considerably and average between 10- and 35-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperatures of the year arrive at the park in June, July, and August, and the coldest temperatures find the park in December and January. On average, Smugglers Notch State Park receives around 50 days of rain per year. These 50 days of rain accumulate to a yearly average of around 40 inches. Smugglers Notch State Park also experiences snowfall throughout every year. Snowfall in the park can be quite large but does only normally appear during the winter months of December, January, and February. The park’s yearly snowfall totals average around 70 inches per year.

View of Smugglers Notch State Park Via Burke Mountain Vermont

When did Smugglers Notch Become a State Park

Smugglers Notch State Park first became a state park in the 1930’s. The original state park facilities and campground were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The park was relocated to a new nearby site in 2003. In order to preserve the world completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, all buildings constructed by them were carefully moved to the new location. The park's name stems from the long practice of alcohol smuggling that occurred in the area during the Embargo Act of 1807. 

Things to do in Smugglers Notch State Park

Visitors traveling to Smugglers Notch State Park will find a variety of outdoor activities waiting for them upon arrival. Our State Park Visitors Guide details the most popular adventures and outdoor activities found in Smugglers Notch State Park below. 

Explore the Barnes Camp Visitor Center

The best place for visitors of Smugglers Notch State Park to begin their state park adventure is at the Barnes Camp Visitor Center.  The visitor center contains several exhibits and educational displays that discuss various topics related to the park including ecology, history, geography, geology, and culture. In addition to the center’s displays, the Barnes Camp Visitor Center can also supply visitors with park maps and additional park brochures.

Participate in an Interpretive Program

After visiting the Barnes Camp Visitor Center, visitors who are looking to learn more about the park should take advantage and participate in one of the park’s interpretive programs. These programs are led by educated park staff and cover a variety of topics relating to the park’s wildlife, geography, smuggling culture, and more. The schedule of these events is normally posted in the park’s visitor center. However, visitors may also find the schedule posted on the park’s website.

Hiking in the Park & State Forest

The hiking trails found in Smugglers Notch State Park cover diverse sections of terrain. Several of these trails involve summiting Smugglers Notch or other nearby peaks. However, other trails that start in the park meander through the Mount Mansfield State Forest. Visitors interested in finding what trail they would like to hike first can obtain a park trail map from the visitor center. Staff working in the center can also answer specific questions regarding trail difficulty, condition, and length.

Bouldering in the Park

Climbers visiting Smugglers Notch State Park will be excited to know that several areas within the park are optimal for bouldering. The park’s visitor center is a great resource for bouldering information, permits, and regulations.

Winter Recreation Activities

Visitors arriving at Smugglers Notch State Park while there is snow on the ground in winter will find various season specific recreation activities waiting for them in the park. These activities include snowmobiling, skiing, and snowshoeing. Visitors looking to embark down one of the park’s trails in the winter should be aware of trail conditions and any upcoming snowstorms that may blow into the area.

Wildlife Viewing & Birding

Smuggler’s Notch State Park hosts a variety of avian and other wildlife species. Species commonly spotted throughout the state park and surrounding state forest include white-tailed deer, racoons, squirrels, and other woodland species. The park also supports a variety of songbirds, birds of prey, and other avian species. Smuggler’s Notch is often claimed by nesting Peregrine Falcons.

Camping in Smugglers Notch State Park

The campground at Smugglers Notch State Park contains sites best suited for walk-in tent campers. There are very few sites that could support a recreational vehicle. Visitors looking to camp within the park can make reservations online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors looking to camp in the park should make reservations several months in advance.

View of River in Smugglers Notch State Park Vermont

When to visit Smugglers Notch State Park

Smugglers Notch State Park is open year-round, and visitors can visit the park throughout the entire year. However, visitors looking to camp or hike within the park will be best suited planning their trip for spring or summer. During these months, warmer temperatures descend upon the park that allow visitors to take full advantage of the park and the experiences it contains. Visitors looking to cross country ski, snowmobile, or snowshoe should visit the park in late fall or the winter. Snowfall is at its peak during December, January, and February.

Must Have Items to Bring to Smugglers Notch State Park

Every trip outdoors requires at least a little packing and planning. A trip to Smugglers Notch State Park is no exception.  List of Parks suggests the following items should be considered by every visitor planning to travel to Smugglers Notch State Park. 

Water & High Energy Snacks

Water and energy replenishing snacks are essential items to bring on every outdoor recreation trip. Hikers, campers, and other visitors who plan to exert extended energy on the trails in Smugglers Notch State Park should bring additional supplies of water and snacks. Dried fruit, trail mix, and meal replacement bars are some of the best snack’s hikers can bring to replenish their energy levels.

Sunscreen & Sunglass

In the summer, visitors to Smuggler Notch State Park should be prepared for the Vermont sun. While summer temperatures in the park are still quite mild compared to other locations across the country the UV index can sometimes approach damaging levels. Sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses will provide visitors with necessary protection. Bringing a hat along with you may also be a great idea to help escape the summer sun and protect you from ticks and other bugs in the forest.

Sturdy Hiking Boots

The trails at Smugglers Notch State Park feature a variety of terrain that can challenge even the most experienced hiker. Every visitor planning to embark down a trail headed for the state forest or for Smugglers Notch should come prepared with a sturdy pair of hiking boots. Visitors may also want to invest in a lightweight and waterproof pair for added comfort and protection. 

Layers of Clothing

The temperatures in Smugglers Notch State Park can approach freezing throughout the year.. Campers and individuals looking to visit the park in winter should bring additional heavy layers of clothing with them to the park. These layers will help visitors remain comfortable in all temperatures during their stay at the park.

Field Guides & Park Maps

Wildlife enthusiasts visiting Smugglers Notch State Park may want to purchase and bring along a Vermont specific wildlife field guide to make identification easier. The visitor center can also supply hikers with trail maps and species checklists, as well as answer any additional questions about the park’s avian or woodland wildlife species.

View of Rocks and Trees in Autumn in Smugglers Notch State Park Vermont

Where to Stay in Smugglers Notch State Park

Visitors looking to stay within Smugglers Notch State Park should make a reservation for one of the park’s campsites. These reservations can be made on the park’s website and through the park’s reservation portal. Visitors looking to stay in a hotel or other lodging establishment in the area should first search for options in Stowe. However, visitors looking for additional options or wanting to stay in a larger town can also make the drive to Boston, Massachusetts or Portland, Maine. Visitors looking to use their passport and cross into Canada can also find lodging options in Montreal. 

Food Near Smugglers Notch State Park

The closest food to Smugglers Notch State Park can be found in Stowe. However, visitors looking for additional options or a larger culinary scene may feel the need to explore Boston, Massachusetts or Portland, Maine. Boston is about 205 miles and a three-hour drive south of Smugglers Notch State Park. Portland is about 246 miles and a four-hour drive east of the park. Each of these cities contain countless restaurants and bars. Visitors can also use their passport to find culinary options 100 miles north in Montreal.

Airports Near Smugglers Notch State Park

The closest international airport to Smugglers Notch State Park is located across the border in Montreal. The Montreal-Pieree Elliott Trudeau International Airport is 109 miles and about a two-hour drive north of the park. Other international airports near Smugglers Notch State Park include the Boston International Airport and the Portland International Jetport.

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