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

As the flames of our fire flickered to life before us, we looked out towards the desolate beach. It was a crystal clear lake almost completely surrounded by hills and mountains. Besides two loons singing a tune, there was a quiet stillness as we waited for our beef-flavored noodles to cook. Here we were completely isolated in the Greenland backcountry besides the occasional friendly reindeer trotting by.

My boyfriend and I were in the midst of trekking the Arctic Circle Trail, my first thru-hike – 100 miles of west Greenlandic wilderness from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut. Throughout the first couple of days on our adventure, we had to keep pinching ourselves to believe that we were actually in the Arctic Circle doing our first long-distance hike together.

It was the middle of August (2016), so the sun was 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 we expected with temperatures reaching as high as 60 degrees (Fahrenheit). Needless to say, we enjoyed a fair few days in shorts and a t-shirt.

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

Greenland Arctic Circle Trail

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. Take a walk on the wild side. It’ll be worth it.

Greenland Arctic Circle Trail

Additionally, 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 – go off the grid. It’s easier to live more in the moment when trekking in the backcountry rather than focusing your attention on whatever pops up on your screen.

Want to have a closer look into what hiking the Arctic Circle Trail is like? Check out this montage of videos and photos from our trip:

What’s been your favorite travel experience out in nature? How do you enjoy the wilderness when traveling to new destinations?

Greenland's Arctic Circle Trail

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

  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.

    1. 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.

    1. I hope you make it to Greenland soon! It definitely had its challenges, but it makes you think about what you actually need and what you can leave at home. Because every ounce is weight on your back!

  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!

    1. 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!

    1. Thank you for reading, and I’m glad you enjoyed it! There’s really nothing better than a walk into the wild 🙂

  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.

    1. 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?

    1. 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. We should have dropped in on Greenland from Iceland. Sounds and looks like a whole new world. Congratulations, you two!

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

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