The opening of Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch is a rite of spring in Vermont. This scenic road that winds through a narrow pass between Mount Mansfield, Spruce Peak and Sterling Mountain is closed to traffic during the winter months. Located near Vermont’s tallest peak, the route opens for the season once the snow is finally gone.
The Notch, which connects Stowe and Jeffersonville, has a unique, prehistoric feel with giant boulders, thousand-foot cliffs and thick forests. In the spring, summer and fall, thousands of visitors descend upon the Notch to hike, rock climb and camp.
The Notch is also a popular spot for snowshoeing, Nordic skiing and ice climbing in the winter. (Since this stretch of Route 108 is closed once the snow flies, you need to park below the Notch and trek through the pass on your own in the winter).
Before Route 108 was built in the early 1920s, a footpath and horse trail crossed the Notch. Locals used the Notch to illegally transport goods to Canada in the 19th century, and alcohol was smuggled through the area during Prohibition.
After work on Thursday I decided to take the long way home and drove through the Notch for the first time since October. Even though the trees up there are bare and the ground is brown, it was still a pretty nice commute.