At this time of year, the trail is primarily used by Greenlanders traveling between Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut on dog sled or snowmobile. It is also used by hunters looking for musk oxen and reindeer.
It is not unheard of for tourists to make the crossing during winter, but you need to be experienced in cold weather expeditions and have all the right gear. Temperatures can reach below -45˚C and strong winds are common. Most of those attempting the winter trail take the challenge in March or April when the days are becoming longer and the snow is beginning to melt. Earlier in the winter, the polar darkness and weather conditions can make the trail simply impassable to cross the ACT on foot.
Because of the incredibly deep snow, few people hike the entire trail in winter. Rather, they prefer to use a combination of transportation methods, including dog sleds, fatbikes, cross country skis, and hiking with snowshoes. The winter trail strays slightly from the summer route, as it traverses frozen lakes where possible, but it is around the same 160 km length. To organise a combination trip, contact Hotel Sisimiut & Tours (based in Sisimiut) or Albatros Arctic Circle (based in Kangerlussuaq) who can usually coordinate all modes of transport. Greenland Extreme also offer a guided cross country ski tour on the ACT.
You can also complete the entire Arctic Circle Trail on dogsled with Albatros Arctic Circle, Greenland Adventure Tours, Dogsledge taxi, ISI4U, and Hotel Sisimiut, on snowmobile with Sisimiut Snowmobile Expeditions, and even on a fatbike with Fatbike Greenland. Safety is of paramount importance if you are considering experiencing the Arctic Circle Trail during the winter, so we recommend that you take one of these supported expeditions, rather than setting out on your own unsupported. Whichever option you choose, pay particular attention to our safety guidelines and protocols.
You can even turn your winter ACT experience into a competition by participating in the Arctic Circle Race. This is a cross country skiing race that starts and ends in Sisimiut and extends over three days. The route is not the same as the Arctic Circle Trail, but they do overlap in places, and the total length is around the same.
This Facebook group about polar and ice cap travel is a useful resource for those considering a winter crossing of the Arctic Circle Trail. You can view the entire winter route on Google Street View (drop the man between Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq to see the street) and get an idea of how the landscape looks like.
Destination Arctic Circle