New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » Tips for exploring Smuggler’s Notch

Have you explored Smuggler’s Notch?

If you are saying that you drove Smuggler’s Notch and crossed it off your bucket list and thought it was a nice scenic drive then I’ll ask again. Have you really explored it??? I once saw an image from another photographer and I was so inspired by his image that I put Smuggler’s Notch on my bucket list. Over the past 4 years I’ve never hit it at the right time or with the right mindset.

What is the right mindset?

Smugglers Notch in New England fall foliage

I see this sign and my anticipation for Vermont’s Smugglers Notch builds.

For me, this means, I “plan” to be there just for that location. Sometimes it also means:

  • Getting there at or before dawn.
  • Knowing there are a dozen other spots I “could” be at and focusing on being “at this spot” in the moment.
  • Allowing myself to just explore and see where it takes me.

Now that I’ve set up the parameters of what it takes for me to really explore a location, you might ask why is this important?

Just driving through Smuggler’s Notch isn’t enough. You can’t just pull over and get out to get “that” shot. There are very few spots to pull off the road (None are legal) and if the traffic is heavy then they won’t be wanting to stop while you pull off and hopefully out of their way.

There are a couple of pull-offs below and before the switch backs start and you could also pull into the parking spaces that are right before the “Notch” starts. And lastly on the upper side there is a parking lot for hikers that was full by 7AM when I was there on 12 October (Yes, I was there on Columbus day).

 A car was in the shot and I thought I would continue the capture of the panoramic. Not for the faint of heart or those who have big vehicles.

Big looong panoramic of one of the many turns in the “Notch”. Incredible show of Vermont fall foliage.

I utilized one of the lower spots because the traffic was still minimal at 0630 this morning and no one was in any off these pull offs (yet). Chances of finding one later in the morning will be the luck of the draw.

Why is it called Smuggler’s Notch?

Back in the early 1800s, Thomas Jefferson was under the mistaken belief that our products were so much in demand that we could withhold them from the British and force them to treat us with respect in the postcolonial world stage. So he shut us our trade-off both from and to them. What he didn’t take into account was that this impacted the ability of those along the Canadian border to make a living. We traded across the border and on that side were British goods which were now forbidden.

The people merely traded by night or along routes that were so rough that they could escape the prying eyes of Customs officials. The result is that a path from Jeffersonville to Stowe, coming over Mount Mansfield and down through the Notch between the mountain and between Spruce Peak and the Sterling Range.

This became known as Smuggler’s Notch and as they say “the rest is history”

Finding Smuggler’s Notch

To reach Smuggler’s Notch (I posted a picture on my fall foliage Facebook page and yes, someone did ask where it was… so…)  You just need to head to Vermont, and in particular Stowe village. Stowe straddles Route 100 and when you get into the center of town you will see a turnoff to Route 108. You take that north towards Jeffersonville. As you arrive at the Smuggler’s Notch ski resort you will be at the front doorstep of Smuggler’s Notch. PLEASE! do not take your RV! I’ve said it a dozen times and here is one more. Smuggler’s notch will eat your RV and spit it out so please don’t take it up this route. IF you do please get someone to videotape this and send it to me because I need a good laugh. 🙂

Why explore it?

Why indeed? It is very steep and dangerous to try to walk this road. SO! you can always just enjoy my pictures and add your own driving experience and you may be satisfied. I’ve included a link to each of the images in this article to their counterpart on my gallery on Fine Art America. Purchasing my art helps me to keep producing helpful articles like this one. 🙂

Many folks have browsers that block advertisements and I understand why. But the ads and the affiliate links like and B& are how I make a little extra money. Even if you don’t want to book your stay via my affiliates, you could just click the links for the google ADs and they still do me good even if you don’t buy the products.

Visit my donation page

You can also visit my donation link and directly contribute to my Keep Jeff on the road fund. I had many folks send me a donation this past fall and was able to pay for several tanks of gas (about 4) and some much-needed cups of coffee! PayPal securely handles the credit card transactions.

Winner of my November giveaway

The November winner of my monthly giveaway was Ray Clydesdale from England… Not the Newer version… 🙂 I’ll be sending Ray a Leaf peeper ball cap for his next visit across the pond to visit our New England fall foliage.

Jeff "Foliage" Folger  You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
Subscribe to my Newsletter - If you would like to sign up for my Fine Art America Newsletter (click this link and a window will open allowing you to sign up). Why sign up for the newsletter? Contests, discount codes on my artwork, maybe an excerpt from my book "Exploring the back roads of New England with Jeff Foliage"... Yes you heard me right... (Damn now I have to start writing it!)
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Jeff Foliage

My name is Jeff Folger,
but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as:
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff
I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
Feel free to visit me on my blogs and see what life in New England is like.

I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.
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Tips for exploring Smuggler’s Notch — 2 Comments

  1. Finally got to contribute for some snacks for you! Thanks for your guidance on our fantastic Vermont experience!

    • Thank you Doreen, much appreciated. Glad you had a great time. Hopefully you get a chance to come out again one year. 🙂 It can be habit forming, as I well know…

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