In the year 2000, Volkswagen build a gravel road between Kangerlussuaq and the Inland Ice. The purpose was to use it to test their vehicles under extreme circumstances. However, the gravel road wasn’t used for this purpose for a long time. Now four-by-four vehicles are taking trips at the road. For this reason, visitors have the chance to extend their trip to include a trip along the Arctic Circle Trail by walking from the Inland Ice to Sisimiut. The alternative route through Russell’s gletcher is shorter.
Distance: 37 km or 25 km from Russel’s Gletcher.
Starting off at Point 660/The Inland Ice
There’s a place known as ” Point 660” which consists of a pile of inconsistent, frozen glacial deposits. The point is only about 525 m. over the sea surface, but despite this it manages to hide the ice from one’s view. In order to get to point 660, transportation like four-by-four vehicles or monster truck-busses are necessary. These are available at Kangerlussuaq. At point 660, there’s a path which will lead you to the edge of the ice. It’s recommended to walk cautiously on the ice and not go too far. It doesn’t require special equipment to walk on the ice.
Hiking from the Inland Ice to Kangerlussuaq takes place along the gravel road. The route should be quite easy to walk on since you just need to follow the road. Every year during October, this road is used for the Arctic Circle Marathon. The vigorous hills are covered with beautiful wild flowers. During the hiking, you can spend the time enjoying the natural beauty of the place. On the route you will walk across several lakes. The first one will be down to your right with water that’s streaming down from the ice. A little after that down to your left, you will see a lake with a lot of small icebergs with pieces of glacial ice which directly breaks into the lake.
The road goes through stagnated barrows of moraines and different lakes. After this, the route takes a sharp slope downwards, and the route connects with a bridge that passes a broad rock filled river. Another bridge is to be crossed after this. This bridge passes over a small river that which are placed between two big lakes. The gravel road continues along the river which runs outward and meets a stony canyon. After this, the road goes upwards to pass through an opening between stony barrows. This will bring you over another lake. On a mountain top on the left side of the road is a vantage point and a picnic spot with a view of a great waterfall and the border of the ice. This place is called Isranddalen (”The ice front valley”). Here, the glacier of a grand moraine borders. After this, the ice from the glacier breaks directly into a river. Other places, the edge of the glacier runs into the river and expands it. The road is mostly moving wavy downwards towards the end of the nose of Russell Glacier. At this point, there’s another picnic spot with panorama over a drastic, dark, grey waterfall. You will notice lots of sandhills deposited at the river on this point and more along the river.
Alternative beginning from Russel Glacier
Starting off your hike from here will help you by skipping the first 12 km. of the hike. This part of the route has way less variation in height. It’s close to a lake at which you will find lots of cotton grass crop. Above the glacier’s nose, ice towers and chipped peaks visible. A little later you will arrive at a place with a black stone on your right hand which offers a spectacular view of Aajuitsup Tasia, better known as Long Lake. The lake is 10 km. long and about 250 m. above sea surface. It’s the biggest lake visible from the road.
The road moves sharply past a cliff, crosses a series of gates and an opening between the hills at around 300 meters of height. From here on, the slopes are mainly covered by willows. A little later the unique silhouette of Sugar Loaf can be seen. The path continues downwards in order to reach the arctic valley, Sandflugtsdalen (“The valley of sand flight”). If you continue downwards along the track, you will reach a sand track at your right. This track has an unregular route whose details will soon be known to you. In the beginning there’s a sharp increase of height within a short distance. The rest of the route is easy and has a beautiful view.
From a glacial river located in the middle of Sandflugtsdalen a small stream is flowing and brings a big amount of sand and mire with it. When the weather is warm and dry some of this material is transformed into dust weather which thereafter lands as sand banks and dunes. Sandflugtsdalen is in a height of 150 m. above sea surface.
Along Sandflugtsdalen the road continues ahead. It passes the broken relic of a plane. This American place crashed in 1968 with two other planes. The pilots were all able to shoot themselves safely out of the planes. If you walk along the mud surfaces, you will cross a bridge. Further down of the sandy track, you will cross yet another bridge. Maybe you will be able to see foodprints of hares, foxes, reindeer and mush oxen. The dunes are covered by willows with broad leaves and tall lymph grass with hard stalks.
This track moves along a series of small, beautiful lakes with willows that are grown together at their ends. At your left hand will be a sign towards a waterfall. If you continue on the same road, you will pass through an opening next to the vertical side of Sugar Loaf. In order to climb up, you need to follow a distinctly ascending track which also leads back in the same direction. Hereafter, the road continues downwards. Along the path you will see a big circle of a marked area on a sign. This is prohibited area. However, you can pass through from the road. Some harmful materials were dumped here by the American military. The place has three small picturesque lakes and a cottage. The dirty, grey mountain top of Akuliarusiarsuk can be seen when you walk along the gravel road. From this point you can also see the Watson River which flows down in a stony, narrow stream below the surface of Sugar Loaf.
Brushwoods of inpenetrable willow limits a great part of the road. You will also see some planted pinewoods with metal marks. At your left hand, you will see a track straight ahead. However, the main road continues next to a golf lane. All of the area is mainly covered by sand, and there is no fairway which you would normally expect to see on a golf lane. The clubhouse is no more than a cottage! The track ascends a little, while you pass a stone quarry. After this point, the route descends and becomes part of a correctly constructed tarmac. To get to Kangerlussuaq, you just have to turn right by the main road, Marius Olsen-ip Aqq., which will lead you to the airport.
Above Sandflugtsdalen, a sand path takes off from the road. That’s where the alternative route begins. There’s a sudden ascent of the road of about 100 meters of height. Vehicles used to drive along this route, but due to erosion the road is no longer in the right condition for this. All the way you will see the willows grow along the sides until the path flattens. Grass, rush and cotton grass grows on the higher parts of the path. There’s an amazing view over the valley from this point which shows the ice and Sugar Loaf. The route then moves downwards again to around 75 m. above sea surface. Also, the green vegetation gradually disappear until only sand remains. Just join the main road and continue straight ahead.