Atlin Wilderness Area Letterboxes  LbNA # 10685 (ARCHIVED)

Placed DateSep 6 2004
CountyBritish Columbia, CAN
LocationAtlin, BRC
Found By
Last Found
Hike Distance?


Atlin, an historic goldrush village of 450 souls, is on the northern edge of B. C., almost in the Yukon. The village sits alone on the edge of 80-mile-long Atlin Lake. It is in an area of stunning beauty surrounded by subarctic wilderness; high mountains, glaciers, boreal forest, many lakes. Great wildlife; moose, caribou, bears, mountain goats, mountain sheep, wolves, and all the smaller critters.

The letterboxes and their stamps are mostly about various kinds of wildlife that inhabit the area. Some have original humorous verse about that wildlife in the letterbox.

The Atlin letterboxes are all in this magnificent wilderness. Some require a moderate hike, mountain bike, boat, canoe or kayak; some are fairly strenuous. Anyone letterboxing here should be able to deal with the hazards of truly wild country. Mosquito dope and bear spray are standard equipment, although the bug dope is often not needed and there is no record of bear spray ever having to be used.

There is a lovely basic campground near town, a motor home park and visitor amenities. You can get topo maps of the area at the general store, and a simple trail guide at the Museum.

Caution: A common first reaction to Atlin is, “Ohmigawd - what do I have to do to live here?” Resist the temptation to settle in immediately; the winters are long, dark and cold. Do your letterboxing here between May and the end of September!


Difficulty: easy.
Distance one-way - about 0.7 kilometres (0.4 miles).
Elevation gain: almost level.
Take: bug dope, bear spray (optional).
Placed: Sept. 6, 2004 by Otter

This is the first letterbox in this part of the north.

Find Atlin, B. C. on a map. It is just south of the Yukon border. Drive there. It’s a mere 2602 kilometers (1617 miles) north of Vancouver. Piece of cake.

Ask in any store: “Where’s the Surprise Lake Road?”

Drive out the Surprise Lake Road 4.5 km. (2.7 mi.) from its intersection with the Whitehorse Road. Shortly after rounding a rising curve to the right you will see the small cemetery sign on the right. Take this gravel entrance road and park on the far side of the fenced area.

From here, walk out a rough dirt continuation of the entrance road for a few hundred metres until you reach the edge of the high bluffs overlooking Pine Creek. Great view of the lake and mountains. There is a small doggie cemetery there. The trail starts at the very edge of the bluff and runs along it upstream (left).

After a few hundred yards you will come to a small trail coming in from the left, the Pom Pom Trail, marked with orange tape and yarn pompoms. (It also leads back to the parking area.) A sign there reads “Cemetary”, an arrow pointing to the Pom Pom Trail. Directly BEHIND that sign a VERY faint trail leads downhill through the woods. Follow it for about 65 steps. You will find a small blaze on the left side on an 8” lodgepole pine. Across the trail from it is a pile of down, dead wood. Look under the wood. Be sure you hide the box well when you leave.

A few steps past the letterbox under some spruces is a fox den area, unused for several years, the dens now green with moss. If you look carefully, you will find hare and squirrel bones and other debris the foxes have hauled in.




Placed by: Otter
Placement date: Sept. 9, 2004
Province: British Columbia, CAN
Nearest village: Atlin
Number of boxes: 1
Difficulty: easy.
Distance one-way - about 800 metres (or about .5 miles) of paddling, one-way.
Take: canoe or kayak and shoes you don’t mind getting wet. And a life jacket.

Find Atlin, B. C. on a map. It is just south of the Yukon border. Drive there. It’s a mere 2602 kilometers (1617 miles) north of Vancouver. It should only take a few days.

Ask any resident or in any business, “Where is Palmer Lake?” Or you can get a topo map (104N5) at the General Store.

Drive to Palmer Lake. It will take about half an hour on a good gravel road. There are two possible launch sites with access roads to the lake.

Launch your canoe or kayak. If you are a fisherman, you might want to take along a spinning rod and some big lures as the pike fishing is excellent. The lake is less than a mile across.

You frequently see and hear loons in Palmer Lake, and often see bald eagles. You sometimes see otters, beavers (there are a few beaver lodges, though most are on adjoining lakes), various ducks, and moose. Paddle quietly and slowly and keep your eyes open. And if you do see wildlife, please don’t harass it.

Go to the island. "The island you just can’t mistake / There’s only one upon the lake". Paddle around it. Look for a large, rounded whitish boulder at water’s edge, with a live spruce tree leaning toward the water about thirty feet SW of it. The Northern Pike letterbox is at the base of this tree.

Very near to it is an old otter den, and a place where otters have eaten countless northern pike and grayling. There is a veritable blanket of fish scales which piled up over the years.

Finding an easy landing may be difficult depending on the lake level.You may have to step out into shallow water. The rest of the island is hard to explore, being covered with down, burned trees and a heavy growth of Labrador tea, dwarf birch, heavy wet moss and other undergrowth.



Difficulty: moderate
Distance one-way - about 2 kilometres (1.2 miles).
Elevation gain: about 215 metres (700 feet).
Take: bug dope, bear spray (optional), good hiking shoes or boots.

Find Atlin, B. C. on a map. It is just south of the Yukon border. Drive there. It’s a mere 2602 kilometers (1617 miles) north of Vancouver. Four days is a comfortable driving time from Vancouver.

Ask in any Atlin store: “Where’s the Quilts and Comforts Bed and Breakfast?” Or look for signs as you come into town. Drive on uphill past Quilts and Comforts for 300 yards (or metres) until the road appears to fork; one sharply left and the other straight ahead. Both are private gravel driveways. There is a wide spot on your right. Park here. About 50 yards up the drive straight ahead of you you will see a single power line crossing the road to the right. It goes to an aircraft beacon on top of Pillman Hill. Follow the trail under the power line. It gets steeper as you get higher. Great views of the Atlin Lake complex as you near the top.

As you near the top, watch for a place where the well-travelled trail leaves the power line and angles left. There is a small sign on a power pole there. The trail circles around and approaches the bluff from behind. Just after a very short steep section, watch closely for a small Pillman Hill sign down low on a fallen log. It points to an easy-to-miss short steep foot trail to the right. Follow it to the summit, a rocky bluff with a gorgeous view of the brilliant emerald water of Como Lake and Atlin Lake and the glaciated mountains south and west of Atlin Lake.

As you stand on the rocks at the edge of the bluff you will see just below you, between your position and Como Lake, three or four small, thick, subalpine fir trees growing from a wide shelf slightly lower. Their tops come to just about your level. Scramble down to them from the left (the safest way). Snowshoe Hare letterbox is at the base of the biggest of the trees, under its thick lower branches.

On your hike you will probably see spruce grouse, moose tracks, and a wide variety of wildflowers in early summer. On the summit you will very likely be able to watch ravens playing in the thermals, and sometimes bald or golden eagles fly close.