Elephant’s Head Cliff–Sterling Pond Loop

Stowe, Vermont

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A steep ascent out of a narrow notch to a cliff-top lookout, then a moderate ascent to a scenic subalpine pond with views of Mount Mansfield along much of route. Smugglers’ Notch is a deep, narrow cleft that separates the hulk of Mount Mansfield and a high ridge that includes Spruce Peak and Madonna Peak. Geologists believe the notch was formed by a river that flowed toward Stowe during the last ice age, carving the dramatic cliffs that form its walls. The name Smugglers’ Notch dates back to before the War of 1812, when the notch was used as an illegal trade route with Canada during a trade embargo with the British Commonwealth.

Elephant’s Head Cliff–Sterling Pond Loop Professional Review and Guide

"A steep ascent out of a narrow notch to a cliff-top lookout, then a moderate ascent to a scenic subalpine pond with views of Mount Mansfield along much of route. Smugglers’ Notch is a deep, narrow cleft that separates the hulk of Mount Mansfield
and a high ridge that includes Spruce Peak and Madonna Peak.

Geologists believe the notch was formed by a river that flowed toward Stowe during the last ice age, carving the dramatic cliffs that form its walls. The name Smugglers’ Notch dates back to before the War of 1812, when the notch was used as an illegal trade route with Canada during a trade embargo with
the British Commonwealth."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Stowe
Distance: 5.8
Elevation Gain: 1,780 feet
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: 5 hours
Season: Year-round
Local Contacts: Underhill State Park
Local Maps: USGS Mount Mansfield Quad
Driving Directions: Directions to Elephant’s Head Cliff–Sterling Pond Loop

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May 2018