With the largest ice-free backcountry in Greenland, Destination Arctic Circle is a hiker’s dream. It is home to Greenland’s most famous long-distance trail – the Arctic Circle Trail – and creating Greenland’s best trail system is a priority for the region.
Hiking in the Arctic Circle region
Hiking in Greenland is not like hiking in many other places around the world. Typically, you should not expect wide paths or much infrastructure to help you through the landscape, but rather a foot-width track (if there is one at all) and the need to scramble or perhaps ford rivers, depending on the terrain.
In Destination Arctic Circle we have some trails that are exceptions to this, especially around Kangerlussuaq where several routes follow the gravel road network for the majority of their length. And while we are making a concerted effort to mark our trails well, independent hikers should have basic navigation skills before setting out. Otherwise, several tour operators offer hiking adventures where guests can also learn about the area through which they are travelling.
Our trails take anywhere from 2 hours to more than a week to complete, with options at all levels of difficulty.
When to hike – summer
By far the most popular time to hike is during the summer months. Temperatures are milder, there is up to 24 hours of daylight, the trails are ice- and snow-free, and there are plenty of others out enjoying the backcountry (including locals and mushers taking their Greenlandic Sled Dogs out for exercise).
The peak months for hiking are July and August, though there are a couple of factors that you should take into consideration when hiking at this time.
- Although the average temperature is around 15C, it can feel much, much warmer. The Arctic sun is very strong so we encourage you to bring a sun hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen. A full packing list for day hiking in Greenland can be found here.. In recent years temperatures have been known to climb as high as 30C (and feel correspondingly hotter), so make sure you are prepared.
- Mosquitoes are a fact of life during summer in Greenland. They appear as soon as it gets warm and are an annoyance until they all die off once the temperature drops. If you are hiking during June and July in particular, a head net is essential and insect repellent is highly recommended.
The shoulder season for summer hiking extends through June and September. If you are thinking of hiking during those months, you must be well prepared for unstable weather and colder temperatures. There may still be significant snow on the trails in June, and snowfalls are common in September.
When to hike – winter
For the well-prepared and adventurous, some of the marked trails in Destination Arctic Circle are still do-able in the winter with the help of snowshoes. However, keep in mind that trail markings will likely be covered in snow so you should know how to navigate.
The best months for winter hiking are March and April while there is still plenty of snow and the temperatures are not quite as cold. February is also possible, but hikers must be equipped to deal with -40C and wild storms. We strongly advise against hiking in May as the frozen lakes start to melt and the ice becomes unstable.
Hiking trail information
Given our focus on hiking, we have established 2 dedicated websites for independent hikers in the region:
- hiking.gl describes in detail and provides GPX routes for each of the marked trails near Kangerlussuaq, Maniitsoq, and Sisimiut. It also includes advice on what to take with you on a hike, navigation and safety advice, and our rules for protecting the environment
- arcticcircletrail.gl is the official, dedicated site for the Arctic Circle Trail. It contains detailed information about planning, preparation, while you are on the trail, and after the hike, as well as providing the opportunity for hikers to hire a personal locator beacon (PLB) for their trek.
Both of these sites are regularly updated with the latest information. We encourage you to click through to learn more about independent hiking in the Arctic Circle region.
Hiking Tour Operators
The following companies offer hiking tours in the region: