Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Family Trip to Gatlinburg at Mountain Laurel Chalets!

Ah, the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee! This was our third year in a row visiting the Gatlinburg area. The great thing about this area is that you can decidedly make it your own experience. Whether spending the day hiking in nearby Great Smoky Mountains National
Mountain Laurel Chalets Office
Park, enjoying an exciting family adventure ziplining through the trees, or catching one of the great attractions in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, there is definitely plenty to do for everyone in your family.

Our family adventure in Gatlinburg began at the office of Mountain Laurel Chalets ( at 440 Ski Mountain Road. We decided on a two bedroom chalet called "Deer View Trail Chalet". Reserving a chalet online with MLC is extremely easy - they require a one-night deposit at the time of the reservation and then you finalize the reservation upon your arrival. The Mountain Laurel Chalets website is easy to navigate and provides many photos and reviews of each of the chalets (many have walk-through YouTube videos as well). Deer View Trail is actually the second chalet that we rented from MLC. We rented
Driveway to Deer View Trail
"Woodsmoke" two years in a row and were extremely pleased with the experience from check-in to check-out. In this post, I will walk you through our Mountain Laurel Chalets experience focusing on the Deer View Trail Chalet and our great two-day, three-night experience in the Gatlinburg area.

Upon our arrival at Mountain Laurel Chalets at about 6:00pm on Wednesday, we were cheerfully greeted at the front desk, paid our balance, and were presented with our key to Deer View Trail along with our pass to the Owner's Club. We didn't visit the Club on this trip, mainly due to weather, but we have in the past. The Club that we visited is very nice - 2 pools, tennis, and ping pong! We were told that bears were very active and to be on the lookout - oh, and make sure our trash was secure in the bear proof cages. We read in the literature that some bears had to be euthanized due to encounters with humans involving open trash. When you visit MLC, make sure to properly bear-proof your trash in the cages.

Deer View Trail is on Wiley Oakley Drive
So up the mountain we drove - I lose track of distance on the small curvy roads, but we traveled up Ski Mountain Road to Wiley Oakley Drive. It's extremely easy to become
Deer View Trail Chalet
disoriented and I found my GPS to be "less than reliable" on the mountain, so I recommend you listen to the directions provided by the office and have your passenger follow your progress on the provided map. Deer View Trail is at the end of a long secluded driveway and not visible from the road. Very nice for privacy!

We pulled up the driveway and immediately noticed a very nice single story chalet with an absolutely gorgeous view of the huge mountains behind Gatlinburg. There is plenty of room to park close to the chalet to make unloading the car a
View from Deer View Trail Patio
breeze. But first, we had to check out the chalet. Upon opening the front door and disarming the alarm, we were greeted by a large living area that includes the kitchen. You will find all the amenities of home - range, microwave, refrigerator, oven - now this is my idea of roughing it ;). You will need to bring any groceries and drinks, but silverware, cooking utensils, pots, pans, etc etc were all provided. At one point, I found myself wishing I brought a pizza cutter, but guess what - I found one in the drawer!

In the next room was the laundry room with full washer and dryer. You should bring detergent if you plan on doing laundry. Immediately adjacent was another large living room with a spectacular view of the rear patio and mountains. There is a dining table, and a very comfortable couch and chair. On both sides of this living area are the bedrooms. You descend a small set of stairs to either bedroom and each has a full bath. The master bedroom also
Laundry Room
has a small work area including a desk. The boys immediately found that the in-house wireless network was easy to connect to and fast! The fast Internet access was
The boys quickly found the hot tub!
much appreciated.

Every room has a door to the outside. The stone patio is very cool and has a stone ledge surrounding it. The patio essentially surrounds two sides of the house. The boys found the hot tub on the patio and immediately removed the cover in preparation of the night's relaxing soak.

There is nice patio furniture and a matching table to relax and enjoy your meals on the patio if you wish. On the first night, the sky was clear and we enjoyed a spectacular view of the stars and
Back Patio Area
even saw a few shooting stars!

Front Living Area with fireplace
We spent the first night grilling steaks on the provided charcoal grill (bring your own charcoal) and enjoying the meal on the back patio. Then a glass of wine for the grown-ups and a very enjoyable soak in the hot tub. We also played many games of pool in the front living area. The first night was a huge success in terms of relaxing and spending quality time with the family.

The next morning, I awoke to a beautiful view of the Great Smoky Mountains as soon as I
Master Bedroom
opened my eyes. Nice!! However, I was a bit nervous because my husband had booked a family adventure on Gatlinburg Ziplines for that morning ( After a sausage and egg breakfast, we headed down the mountain into town to find Gatlinburg Ziplines. Upon arrival and filling out the required paperwork, we were put into our zip gear by our father/son guide team, Joe and Christian. These guys are great - a genuine concern for the safety of the customers but in a very friendly and humerous atmosphere. The four of us were teamed up with eight other adventurers and jumped into a van and were driven about a mile to the zipline course. Gatlinburg Ziplines has nine ziplines
J on the zipline
that take about an hour - the entire adventure is about an
Me on the zipline :)
hour and a half. As this is my first zipline experience, I was very nervous. I was suprised that my 9-year old volunteered to be first in our group. The first zip was relatively short, just to give you the feel of zipping. I found that the hardest part is stepping off the platform into thin air! After you feel the rig catch you and you begin zipping, it's very fun. We had a great time at Gatlinburg Ziplines and
Z on the zipline
I highly recommend them for your Gatlinburg zip experience. I even went off backwards on a couple lines which is really a rush!

After ziplining, we headed to Food City and stocked up on lunch supplies. Then we headed back to Deer View Trail and enjoyed a family lunch. There were some afternoon storms and heavy rain, so the parents each grabbed a couch for an afternoon nap while the boys played pool. Life in the mountains .....

The skies were cloudy on the second night so no star gazing, but very enjoyable spending time with the family shooting pool and laughing.

On our second day, we took the boys into Pigeon Forge for a round of MagiQuest. This is a must-do if you have youngsters that are into wizards, dragons, and such. Fully interactive with a "magic" wand that keeps track of their progress in the game. For a nominal fee, the parents
The boys at MagiQuest
can join the kids' quests as guides as they rack up the quests. That evening, we took a drive up to Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's a tough 1/2 mile hike from the parking lot to the observation tower (almost straight up) but definitely worth the effort. The mountain was shrouded in clouds when we
Observation Tower at Clingman's Dome
were there, so it was very cool and misty. There is also easy access to the Appalachian Trail from Clingman's Dome if you want to check that out (which we did).
Boys on the Appalachian Trail

Back at Deer View Trail, we enjoyed a third evening of hot tub, shooting pool, and generally spending some great quality family time. On Saturday morning we had the unwanted task of packing the belongings and locking up Deer View Trail for the last time (this year). As I looked back at this great little chalet, I found myself already looking forward to our next Gatlinburg adventure!

More Photos! 
Side Patio with fire pit

Very comfy couch!
Fireplace area in rear living room

TVs in bedrooms as well as living areas

Only 1/2 mile to go!!
Dad at Clingman's Dome

Guest Bedroom

Dining Area
Back Patio View
Me and the boys in the front living area
We loved the pool table!

Good bye, Deer View Trail. See you next time!

(Disclosure: I received 2 complimentary nights at the chalet for my review. All opinions are 100% my own)


tm said...

That looks like an AMAZING trip! I want to try the ziplines and stay at the same place!

Amy O said...

I love Gatlinburg it is so beautiful. We try to go a least twice a year.

Show Me Mama said...

Oh, wow. It looks like a wonderful place to go visit. I have never been so this would definitely be on our list for next year. It looks like a fun trip. Thanks for sharing.

Crystal said...

Looks so nice and rustic

Grace said...

I still remember my trip to Gatlinburg. So fun and love the rustic look.

Anonymous said...

The zip lines look so much fun. In England we have something called Go Ape. It is so much fun!!!
Following :)

Shawn said...

Looks really fun! I've never tried zip lining but that's on my short to-do list :). Thanks so much for visiting. Have a great weekend!

Just Keepin It Real, Folks! said...

I LOVE the mountains and it has been WAY too long since I've been in Gatlinburg!!! My family always enjoys a great zip line!! Thanks for visiting my blog.

Melissa Coleman said...

I love the Smokey's...We usually go there every year but probably won't make it out this year. :(


Sassy said...

It looks absolutely wonderful and fun, I really enjoyed the pictures, you could see why one would want to return. Lovely! Thank you for visiting my blog.:)


Leia Marie said...

Wow! What a trip! Looks like a wonderful time:)

Unknown said...

Hi! I'm a new follower from the blog hop! Come over and visit me whenever you get a chance! :)

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Kassica said...

Looks like you had a great time! I've been to the smokey mountains before and clingman's dome was so cloudy when I went! :)

.musthavewear said...

It looks like you guys had an amazing time!

Have just started following your blog, thanks for stopping by =) Looking forward to reading more posts on your amazing blog!

Anonymous said...

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I was looking for blog posts about the areas around Wiley Oakley Trail to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you :)

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