About the trail

About the Arctic Circle Trail

The Arctic Circle Trail (ACT) is Greenland’s most famous long-distance hike and one of the oldest in the Arctic. Due to its remoteness and very limited infrastructure, it is only recommended for experienced backcountry hikers who have already undertaken several independent multi-day hikes, know how to navigate well, and know how to administer first aid.

It stretches for 160km between Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut (from icecap to ocean) and traverses the Aasivissuit – Nipisat World Heritage Site listed by UNESCO in 2018. This region has been an important Inuit hunting ground for more than 4,200 years and contains archeological evidence of both ancient residences and seasonal hunting and gathering. 

Many of the large, stone cairns that identify the route date from these ancient times and it is forbidden to remove from, add to, or modify them in any way.

Whether you are hiking independently or joining a guided hiking tour of the ACT, please read this website carefully and make an honest assessment of your abilities before committing.

Note that all hikers attempt the trail at their own risk.

Arctic Circle Trail overlooking Ole's Lakseelv (Itinneq) Valley
Photo: Lisa Germany – Visit Greenland

The trail is named for its latitude – essentially lying along the Arctic Circle itself at 66.6° N – and consists of undulating arctic tundra that gets progressively more mountainous as you approach Sisimiut and the coast. It is pristine wilderness at its best with plenty of wildlife, fresh drinking water that doesn’t need to be purified, and a seemingly endless number of lakes. 

It is also one of the most isolated treks in the world. There is no cell-phone coverage and no opportunity to purchase even a chocolate bar along its entire length. You are truly on your own out there. A real opportunity for experienced adventures to to rediscover their inner #naturebeing in the #adventurecapitalofgreenland

Two routes

In 2021 an ATV track was created between Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut that partially overlaps with the original trail. In order to preserve the solitude and silence for hikers, we are in the process of developing an alternate Southern ACT route, which is slightly longer but also enables a potential visit to one of Greenland’s small settlements a few days out from Sisimiut.

The two routes are very different. In particular, the Southern route is:

  • much more physically demanding. The elevation gains and losses are much greater than on the original trail and there is no established trail to follow. You are hiking over uncompacted tundra.
  • not well marked. Aside from there being no trail to follow, the existing cairns are often too widely spaced to be able to rely solely on them for navigation. You must know how to navigate with GPS (the best resolution map is not great for hiking).
  • more remote. There are no huts (though they are in the works) and you are unlikely to see another hiker. You cannot expect help from others if you have an issue.

Note: most of the information on this website currently focuses on the original route. If you are an experienced backcountry hiker and are interested in the Southern route, please read our more detailed description (coming soon).

GPS track for both the original and southern Arctic Circle Trail routes

Hiker suitability

Due to its remoteness, the Arctic Circle Trail is not to be undertaken lightly.

Check the slideshow opposite and our fitness and experience page for more information.

Remember – all hikers undertake the ACT at their own risk and rescue is very expensive!

Even if you have the correct experience, make sure you are sufficiently prepared. There is a real risk of injury (or worse) if you are not!

Be honest in your assessment of your experience. We have limited capacity for Search & Rescue in Greenland – please help us guard against emergencies that should not be emergencies.