I have been through Smugglers’ Notch on Route 108 dozens of times, but until last weekend I had never noticed the small cave just beyond the parking area. The cave is located about 60-feet from the scenic road (known as the Notch) that winds through Cambridge and Stowe. If you’re not paying attention, the entrance to the cave is easy to miss as you ascend the rocky trail near Mount Mansfield.
Known as Smugglers’ Cave, this hidden, natural shelter was once a place where smuggled goods were stashed. 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 in the 19th century, and slaves traveled through the Notch to escape to Canada. Also, alcohol was smuggled across the area during Prohibition in the 1920s.
Once again, I found myself wearing flip-flops while hiking, so access to the cave was a challenge since my feet had no traction. But I managed to explore parts of Smugglers’ Cave and had no trouble imagining the history that took place in these beautiful woods.
**If you go: Map