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An essential guidebook for hiking the Arctic Circle Trail. At just over 100 miles long, and taking 7 to 10 days to complete, the Arctic Circle Trail crosses the largest ice-free patch of West Greenland. This splendid backpacking route, lying 25-30 miles north of the Arctic Circle runs from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut - both with airport access.
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The Arctic Circle Trail is unusual in that it is mostly along a trodden path from start to finish, equipped with basic huts at regular intervals and ‘wild’ tent pitches wherever you can find a suitable space on the ground.
Anyone taking advantage of all the huts will spend nine days on the trail. The distance can be extended to run all the way from the ice cap to Sisimiut.
The Arctic Circle Trail is very remote, with few other hikers on the trail, so it is not recommended for a first-time hiker, but it suitable for anyone who has previous experience of being self-sufficient for several days on a trail.
Trekking in Greenland offers all the information experienced hikers will need to walk this waymarked route.
Fire on the trail
Late in August 2016 there was a fire in the middle of the Arctic Circle Trail, spreading from the Ikkatooq hut. There were rumours that one, possibly two huts has been burnt to the ground. This is not true. No huts were burnt. However, the tundra vegetation was destroyed over a very wide area and will take a long time to recover.
There is an ATM at the airport at Kangerlussuaq.
Page 45. A youth hostel is available at Kangerlussuaq, operated by Erik Lomholt-Brek, who also runs the youth hostel at Sisimiut. Henry, the warden at Kangerlussuaq, has walked the trail a number of times and is reported as being a good source for information about current conditions on the trail. Details at www.kangvandh.gl/en/. On the map on page 44, the new hostel is located at a crossroads between KISS and the Church.
Page 77. The Ikkattook hut was painted red on 12th August 2012, to match the other huts on the trail.
(Photo courtesy of Paul Alderson)
Page 82. Just to reinforce how to ford this river. Please note that if you follow the trail straight across the river, the water will be very deep. Please look upstream for a safer and shallower point to ford. It is also worth reading notes in hut visitor books before reaching the ford, to check the experience of the most recent trekkers.
Page 83. Just to reinforce how to use the bridge. Please note that it is very boggy on the way to the bridge, and the bridge is difficult to spot until close at hand. It may not turn out to be an 'easy' option. Again, hut visitor books will tell you whether recent trekkers thought it was worth using the bridge.
Page 84. Water was reported to be flowing in the river beyond the Eqalugaarniarfik hut in 2012, but this can only happen when the dam further upstream overflows.
Page 107. Erik, the warden at the Sisimiut youth hostel, has some useful free leaflets about local walks, for those who have a few days to spend around town at the end of the trail.
|The ice cap|
|Plants and flowers|
|Travelling to Greenland|
|When to go|
|Health and safety|
|Food, drink and fuel|
|Trekking in Greenland|
|What to take|
|Waymarking and access|
|Using this guide|
|THE ARCTIC CIRCLE TRAIL|
|Preamble – Ascent of Sugar Loaf|
|Optional Extension – Ice Cap to Kangerlussuaq|
|Day 1 Kangerlussuaq to Hundesø|
|Day 2 Hundesø to Katiffik|
|Day 3 Katiffik to Canoe Centre|
|Day 4 Canoe Centre to Ikkattooq|
|Day 5 Ikkattooq to Eqalugaarniarfik|
|Day 6 Eqalugaarniarfik to Innajuattoq|
|Day 7 Innajuattoq to Nerumaq|
|Day 8 Nerumaq to Kangerluarsuk Tulleq|
|Day 9 Kangerluarsuk Tulleq to Sisimiut|
|Post-amble – Ascent of Kællingehætten|
|APPENDIX A Route summary table|
|APPENDIX B Language notes and glossary|
|APPENDIX C Useful contacts|
Three ‘Hiking Maps’ at a scale of 1:100,000 cover the Arctic Circle Trail, published by Greenland Tourism, with cartography by the Scottish company Harvey Map Services. The contour interval is 25m (82ft), which is enough to hide several significant ups and downs. The maps are waterproof, and the reverse is printed with additional useful information. Despite the limitations of scale the maps are excellent, and extracts are used throughout this guide; the route has been highlighted and extra route information added to correspond with the trail description in this guide.
Note the huge magnetic declination in this region before attempting to navigate with a map and compass. Read and understand the notes printed on the maps. Note the provision of blue grid lines indicating the direction of the magnetic north pole. Take sample bearings as early as possible to ensure you understand the system and are confident with its operation – before you find yourself in mist!
Purchase the required map sheets, ‘Kangerlussuaq’, ‘Pingu’ and ‘Sisimiut’, in advance of travel, though they are on sale in Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut. The maps are available from Harvey Map Services, 12–22 Main Street, Doune, FK16 6BJ, tel 01786 841202, www.harveymaps.co.uk; Stanfords, 12–14 Long Acre, London, WC2E 9LP, tel 020 7836 1321, www.stanfords.co.uk; The Map Shop, 15 High Street, Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire, WR8 0HJ, tel 01684 593146, www.themapshop.co.uk; and Cordee, 11 Jacknell Road, Dodwells Bridge Industrial Estate, Hinckley, LE10 3BS, tel 01455 611185, www.cordee.co.uk.
Several ‘Saga Maps’ are available, with a selection of them covering the whole of Greenland at various scales, www.sagamaps.com. A series of 18 maps at a scale of 1:250,000 cover almost the whole western side of the country between the ice cap and the sea. Four more cover small parts of East Greenland. Sheet number 8, ‘Sisimiut Kangerlussuaq’, covers the area traversed by the Arctic Circle Trail. While it is a useful map in terms of offering an overview of the landscape on a single sheet, the map is not recommended for trekking, and the course of the Arctic Circle Trail is not shown.