Trahlyta is the name of a woman in Cherokee legend who is said to have lived on Cedar Mountain near present day Dahlonega.
Trahlyta was told to walk along a certain path, drink from a magic spring, and wish never to grow old by the Witch of Cedar Mountain. “You will become more beautiful with each sip,” the witch said. Trahlyta followed the path and drank from the spring, known today as Porter Springs. The magic worked and word of her youthful beauty quickly spread.
The Cherokee warrior Wahsega courted her, but Trahlyta rejected his courtship. The angered warrior kidnapped and imprisoned Trahlyta in some unknown location west of the Princess’s mountain home. With each day, Trahlyta longed to return to her mountain forest. Over time, her strength waned, her beauty faded, and she became ill. Crying tears of pure gold as she lay dying, Trahlyta asked to be buried in the mountain paradise from which she had come. “Strangers, as they pass by, may drop a stone on my grave and they too shall be young and happy, as I once was,” she said. “What they wish for shall be theirs!”
Wahsega honored her dying wish and brought her body home to be buried.
As the legend of Trahlyta grew, “custom arose among the Indians and later the Whites to drop stones, one for each passerby, on her grave for good fortune.” The grave remains in the same place it has always been in Stonepile Gap and today the stone pile is at least five feet high.
While those who leave stones on Trahlyta’s Grave may be blessed with good fortune, visitors are cautioned against removing any stones from the pile. Accidents and ill fortune are rumored to await any who attempt to take the Cherokee Princess’s gifts. Twice during road construction, the Highway Department attempted to move the grave. Both times at least one person died in an accident while moving the pile.
In 1540, Hernando Desoto, the famed Spanish explorer, reportedly sent soldiers to investigate Trahlyta’s “Fountain of Youth” as witnessed by a Spanish conquistador helmet which was found not far from the spring. In the later 1800’s and early 1900’s, Porter Springs, just 3/4 miles northeast of Trahlyta’s grave, was the site of a popular health spa to which people came from all across the planet to soak in and drink the water. The hotel burned to the ground in the early 1900’s, but the series of springs at the foot of the mountain still run sweet and clear.
Today, visitors can hike the nearly level Trahlyta Lake Trail in Vogel State Park. The trail is an easy 1.2 mile path that circles the Lake Trahlyta, leading to views of Blood Mountain and many lake viewpoints. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and fishing and is accessible year-round. A short spur from the lake trail on the northeast end of the lake leads down the base of the 110 foot Trahlyta Falls, a gorgeous stair-step waterfall. Informal paths follow along the creek bed from the base of the falls, a pathway that’s lined with rhododendron and towering trees.