SMUGGLERS' NOTCH RESORT GUIDE
Images courtesy of Smugglers' Notch
Smugglers' Notch Expert Itinerary
Sterling Mountain, Madonna Mountain, Smugglers' Notch Double & Triple Black Diamonds
Park at Lot #1– Sterling Mountain – Glades – Madonna Mountain – Steeps – Lunch @ Black Bear Tavern – Madonna Glades – Side Country – Return to Lot #1
1. 8:30am – Warming Up on Sterling Mountain
After parking your car at LOT#1 (located partially on STERLING MOUNTAIN), jump onto the unnamed access trail that leads to the Sterling Lift. STERLING is a great place to warm-up and get a feel for Smuggs' terrain. Take a right off of the lift and head to Rumrunner. Take a cruise and get a feel for the groomed snow conditions. Stay left at 'Link' to return to the Sterling Lift.
2. 9-10am – Getting into the Glades on Sterling Mountain
When you're feeling warmed up, take Rumrunner again until you see the access gate for Highlander Glades (visible on the skier's left just past where Rumrunner intersects the Sterling Lift). Highlander is a Smuggs' classic - be sure to stay high and right on Highlander to dump out onto Treasure Run. If you've stayed high enough, you should see the access gate to Poacher's Woods. If you ended up going too far down, take a peak up Treasure Run to look for the access gate. You can usually reach it after a few pushes at most. Poacher's is a more mellow tree run capped off with a narrow snow bridge that crosses over a gently flowing stream.
If Highlander was too difficult, Poacher's will likely be more suitable. Poacher's Woods connects to Lower Rumrunner. To finish in the trees, you should see various access points into Knight's Revenge Glade. Knight's is not steep, but makes up for it with tight trees that will leave your thighs burning. Follow this back to Madonna Base Lodge and the Madonna I Lift. This is a great time to take a quick break or warm-up on a cold day. When you're ready, head up Madonna I.
3. 10-11am – Hitting the Double Diamonds on Madonna Mountain
"It's time to check out Smuggs' most challenging terrain. If you're feeling up for it, exit the Madonna I lift to the left and take Upper Chilcoot to Catwalk. Catwalk, aptly named, is an access trail for all but one of Madonna's Double Black trails. If you want a taste, take a skier's right on to Upper F.I.S. If you stick to the skier's left you should see an access gate to Freefall through the trees. This access gate allows you to bypass Freefall's infamous frozen waterfall that can treacherous when windblown. The access trail will still give you plenty of steep turns on Freefall's better protected sections. Freefall leads directly into the lower section of Upper F.I.S. This trail is usually groomed and perfect for some steep and deep carves.
To give your legs a much-needed break, take McPherson's to Lower Chilcoot. This run will take anywhere from 15-45 minutes depending on your physical and skiing abilities. If you feel like squeezing in one more run before lunch, hop on the Madonna I Lift and exit let at the mid-station for Three Mountain Glades. These glades can sometimes be overlooked, and are a great place to find some left-over turns from the previous storm. Take Three Mountain Glades to Mchauly's Link and finish up on the lower lift line trail all the way to the base lodge.
4. 11am – Lunch @ The Base Lodge
We recommend arriving at The Black Bear Tavern before the big lunch rush. There aren't many options to eat, and seating can sometimes be hard to come when its busy. Try the Prohibition Ale!
5. 1-2pm – Madonna Mountain Glades
You've just scratched the surface MADONNA MOUNTAIN. You should now be fueled up and ready to tackle some of Smuggs' most challenging terrain, the Shakedown Glades. Take Madonna I to the summit and exit left for Chilcoot to Catwalk, like before. This time, continue on Catwalk to Lower Drifter. Keep an eye out on the skier's left for an access gate to Shakedown Glades. Shakedown is a long and keeps a consistently steep pitch through large pine trees. Long and grueling, it's also extremely rewarding and you deserve major props if you can make it down the entire trail without taking a breather. Shakedown runs into Rumrunner and you can follow this back to the MADONNA I BASE and hop back on the lift. The ~15 minute ride will feel like a well-deserved break.
This time, take Chilcoot to Catwalk and exit on to Doc Dempsey's Glades. Here you can choose tighter trees to the right, or a more open bump run to the left - you can't go wrong! Doc's will lead you to the top of the Madonna II lift. From here, follow Ruthie's, and look out for the sign for Gary B's NW Passage, where you will see access gates along the skier's left to Bermuda Glades. Bermuda is a long with tightly-packed birch trees. If you weren't feeling tired yet, you will after this run.
6. 2-4pm – Smugglers' Notch Side Country
Use the rest of the day to explore Smuggs' unmarked, unnamed tree runs. Ask a local about accessing MUSTACHE WOODS and STRAWBERRY FIELDS. If you're up for a short hike, follow the boot tracks off of the Sterling Lift. This area is technically not part of Smuggs, but the resort allows access provided you return to a marked trail. If you follow the boot pack up the small hill, you'll find ~300 or 400 yards of flat-ground to push through. You'll then encounter another short uphill area that requires around 5-10 mins of boot packing. Once you reach the top, follow the paths through the trees for untouched, glorious powder turns. The woods run into Shuttle, which you can follow to Treasure Run to return to the base.
Congratulations! You've conquered some of the best terrain at Smuggs. Head to the The Black Bear Tavern for some après ski!