Perched high above Vermont State Route 108 in the rocky section of Smugglers Notch is a prominent rock formation known as Elephants Head. Atop this cliff is a small viewpoint that overlooks the highway and the Stowe Valley beyond.
To access this beautiful vista, park at the Smugglers Notch Picnic Area. Locate the Long Trail North Trailhead, which is toward the restroom facilities and to the left. Be sure to sign the registry and note any posted trail alerts.
From the trailhead, the trail dips down a steep embankment and crosses the west branch of the Little River. Depending on the time of year, this could be a small ford. Once across, the trail starts to climb. The trail is fairly steep, gaining over 1,300 feet in the next 1.5 miles. Follow the white blazes marked on the trees and rocks. Keep a keen eye as sometimes the trail seems to disappear with the water runoff. The dense vegetation does not allow for views out to the neighboring Mount Mansfield until near the top of the climb.
After 1.8 miles there will be an intersection with a spur trail signed “Vista” and marked with blue blazes. This spur trail leads downhill for approximately 0.2 mile and ends at a small vantage point. Note that the viewing area is small and that there are no safety rails. Caution and sure footing is required near the edge. The view south to toward Stowe Mountain Resort alone is worth the trek up. Directly across from the resort are the rocky formations of Mount Mansfield. If you’re feeling brave, carefully peer below to the winding highway making its way through Smugglers Notch.
To return, simply retrace your path back down to the Smugglers Notch Picnic Area.
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