Discovering ultimate off-the-grid wilderness on Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail

Hiking in Greenland - Arctic Circle Trail

The flames of our fire flickered to life before us as we heated up our beef-flavored noodles. We looked out over the desolate beach and crystal clear lake almost completely surrounded by hills and mountains with a friendly reindeer trotting by. Two loons singing a toon broke our trance over the absolute serenity and quiet stillness engulfing us. Here we were completely isolated in Greenland’s backcountry on the Arctic Circle Trail.

Greenland Arctic Circle Trail

From Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut on the Arctic Circle Trail

My boyfriend and I were just two days into trekking the Arctic Circle Trail, my first thru-hike. It was 100 miles of west Greenlandic wilderness from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut. We had to keep pinching ourselves to make sure we weren’t dreaming – that we were indeed in the Arctic Circle. Seven months prior to starting the hike was the first time we had heard about this trail. It was featured in an article about the top hikes in the world, and when we read the entry on the Arctic Circle Trail, we decided then and there that we had to do this hike and the sooner the better.

It was the middle of August when we arrived in Kangerlussuaq. After hopping off the airplane from Denmark, we picked up our last supplies at the local store and started walking along the road to the start of the trail. During that time of year in Greenland, the sun is out for nearly 24 hours a day. We were lucky to enjoy eight mosquito-free sunny days on the trail. It also turned out to be much warmer than expected with temperatures reaching as high as 60 degrees (Fahrenheit), allowing us to enjoy a few days in shorts and t-shirts. Reading the entries in the journals kept in the shelters along the trail definitely made us realize just how lucky we were with the weather and lack of bugs.

Hiking in Greenland - Arctic Circle Trail

Get off the grid & enjoy Greenlandic wilderness

Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail is a unique hike in many ways, from the wilderness and wildlife to the lakes you can drink straight from. Yes that’s right, no filtration or treatment is necessary. And the water tastes delicious!

This trail is also the perfect reason to take a digital detox. In this day and age, getting a break from the Internet, your phone, and the more modern world is something we all desperately need. Often we don’t take the time to turn off our devices and get away from the virtual world, but hiking in the middle of the wilderness is a way to force you to do just that – get off the grid.

Greenland Arctic Circle Trail

While on the Arctic Circle Trail, we passed no cities or places to resupply. We carried everything we needed on our backs and had to prepare for whatever came our way. There’s something so refreshing about being self-sufficient by carrying all the essentials: shelter, food, and clothes. You don’t need anything else in the world but to just continue stepping one foot in front of the other.

One of the hardest things about hiking this trail is the weight of food you have to carry. You need to ensure you have enough food to get you from the beginning of the trail to the end and enough emergency food supply in case you take longer than expected or something goes wrong. But your pack will only get lighter and lighter as the days fly by.

Greenland's Arctic Circle Trail shelter

Hiking the Arctic Circle Trail – an affordable way to explore Greenland

As an expensive country to travel in, hiking the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland is a great way to see this unique place on a budget. You don’t need a permit to hike or camp. Additionally, there are 10 free, first-come first-serve shelters you can stay in along the trail.

We finished the trail earlier than expected. So we spent a night at the cheapest hostel we could find in Sisimiut, ate at a somewhat affordable burger shack, and picked up more food at a grocery store. The next day we hiked back out of town. We couldn’t resist a day hike highlighted by beautiful views of a fjord and mountains followed by camping one last night in the beautiful backcountry we had fallen in love with.

Hiking in Greenland - Arctic Circle Trail

Take a walk on the wild side

Hiking the Arctic Circle Trail showed me a new way to travel. As an avid traveler, I have spent a lot of time city-dwelling. But the most fulfilling trips always end up being the ones where I get out in nature and enjoy the outdoors. Trekking can show you a totally different world than the one you know from your last big city vacation or the most popular tourist destinations.

Doesn’t being completely enveloped by nature show you the most real version of your destination? Don’t limit yourself by only visiting Paris, New York, Tokyo, and Sydney. Embark on more self-supported journeys in the backcountry of Australia, Nepal, Scotland, South Africa or the United States, to name a few.

Hiking in Greenland - Arctic Circle Trail

Get off the grid, enjoy complete serenity, and take in the sights of Greenland’s backcountry and wildlife on the Arctic Circle Trail. It’ll blow you away.

Related Article: 11 photos that will make you want to hike the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland

Hiking in Greenland - Arctic Circle Trail

Want to have a closer look into what hiking the Arctic Circle Trail is like? Check out the YouTube video my boyfriend made of our trip.

Interested in reading more hiking stories or finding high-quality, affordable hiking gear? Then, check out HighPeaksHiking.com!

Greenland's Arctic Circle Trail

42 Comments

  1. I am dying to visit Greenland and would love to hike the Arctic trail! Would love to see a post on some of your tips for this hike, as I’m sure it took a lot of preparation. I love hiking but am not an experienced hiker by any means, so I’d be nervous about undertaking such a big hike without feeling like I’m adequately prepared.

    • Thanks for your feedback, I’ll do a post on tips for the Arctic Circle Trail soon! I was a little nervous before doing the hike since this was my first long-distance trek, and it’s really hard to fully know what to expect until getting out there and doing it. But there’s definitely ways to help yourself feel more prepared for it. I took walks with a weighted down-pack and went on runs – I feel like that helped a bit.

  2. Mosquito free? That means there are usually mosquitoes? I don’t know why that is a surprise = such monstrous beasts!! Looks like a cool place to visit. I’m adding it to my list of places I want to see and adding a note about mosquito repellant….not sure I would get a lucky bug free time as you did!

  3. How awesome! I’d love to go to Greenland, seems a bit hard to get to. What a great adventure. Definitely adding hiking in Greenland on my ever growing travel bucket list.

  4. I haven’t been to Greenland but a few months ago I was at the other end of the planet. The horn of South America. I imagine the two being similar, vast and pristine.

  5. What a wonderful adventure. I love searching out real wilderness like this and would love to do a similar trek. The weather looks gorgeous so it’s hard to imagine it is the Arctic circle. I bet it was a relief as your bag started getting lighter as you gradually started using up all those supplies you have to carry on a long trek with no chance or restocking food supplies!

    • It was weird realizing we were in the Arctic Circle in shorts and t-shirts for so many day. I even got a little sun burn! It definitely was, our packs only felt lighter and lighter as the days went by. I remember my back feeling particularly good about the weight of my pack on the final day haha.

  6. “Trekking can show you a totally different world than the one you know from your last big city vacation or the most popular tourist destinations.” – I totally agree with this. The mountains are the best places where people should go… I love your article!

  7. What an incredible experience! I’ve been dying to go to Greenland and heard about this hike a few weeks ago actually. I, too, love getting away from technology and big cities and enjoying the raw beauty of nature. My only concern with hiking the trail would be getting hurt. What happens if you break an ankle or something? Without any other humans, towns or cell reception, I imagine that something going wrong would be horrifying.

    • I hope you do the hike one day! That’s an understandable concern. But we hiked the trail at one of the peak times, so we ran into a fair amount of hikers coming and going. Also, a lot of fellow hikers had satellite phones so they could call for help in an emergency. There was actually a wildfire on the trail when we were there, and someone that had one was able to report it by using their satellite phone.

  8. Greenland is a rare find among travel blogs. Seems like everybody always writing about Iceland. No mosquitos and almost 24 hours of sun are awesome. I hate short winter days when hiking after 4 pm requires a flashlight or risking broken bones. With so much sun, did you get a sunburn?

    • Very true, and Greenland is actually quiet easy to get to from Iceland. You can go by boat or plane. It was awesome to be able to hike late into the day and to not have to worry about setting up camp in the dark. Haha yes, I sure did. I got a bit of a sunburn on my face… in the Arctic Circle. It feels so weird saying that haha.

  9. Wow, this place looks stunning! I agree that we shouldn’t just focus on traveling to popular destinations, but we should also consider this kind of trips in nature. I, for example, would love to explore Yosemite National Park or the Pacific Coast.

  10. I loved reading this post and one day we would love to do something like this. We always try to do as much hiking as possible when we travel!

  11. Congratulations on doing the hike. I will be doing it this year flying into Kangerlussuaq on the the 14th august. Can you tell me when you went. I am trying to figure out temperatures and what to pack. also, do you know what sort of gas canisters they had at the shop in Kangerlussuaq. I read a blog from a guy who had a jetboil (I have the minimo) and they had no gas canisters to fit his jetboil so he had cold food for the whole trek.

    • Thank you! It was an amazing trip! We started August 13th and finished the 20th. It was really mild during the days like low 50s (Fahrenheit) and dipped into the low 40s and high 30s at night, but from what we heard, it was unusually warm while we were there. When we arrived in Kangerlussuaq, they didn’t have any gas canisters at the shop. But apparently they do sell them there. They were just out at the time. We used an alcohol (white spirits) stove. Only pack what you need and nothing more because the food will be heavy enough in your pack. We ran into a lot of fellow hikers that brought way too many sets of clothes, and it really weighed them down. Bring chapstick. The sun and wind chapped the heck out of my lips.

      I hope you have a wonderful time hiking the Arctic Circle Trail! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  12. Great post, it’s on my bucketlist and I try to find more info about how to go, when, organised or solo etc,… Check out some more of your post about Greenland and maybe one day Greenland will be apearing in my destinationlist on my blog 🙂

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  1. 11 photos that will make you want to hike the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland – Cheers to traveling

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