Hiking to the Ice cap (35km) could be a good start or end of the ACT hiking. The redline on the map is the “normal” route to and from the ice cap (dirt road). The greenlines are the alternative routes, and the dirt track to the top of Sugar Loaf and to the Russel Glacier.
Start from Point 660
There is a place known as ‘Point 660’ which comprises of a pile of mismatched, frozen, rocky glacial deposit. It is approximately only 525m (1720ft) above sea level but manages to hide the ice cap from view. To travel to Point 660, transportation such as 4WD vehicles and ‘monster truck’ buses are available at Kangerlussuaq. At Point 660, there is a path which takes you to the edge of the ice. It is recommended to walk carefully on the ice and not go very far. However, to stride on the ice, specialist equipment is not required.
Hiking from ice cap to Kangerlussuaq you need to get back onto the dirt road. The rest of the route should be easy to find.
The lush slopes are covered with beautiful wildflowers like the mountain avens. During your visit, keep some time to enjoy the natural beauty of the place. On this route, you will also come across several lakes. The first one would be down to the right, with water flowing down from the verge of the ice cap. A little after this, down towards the left, would be a lake with lots of small icebergs with chunks of glacial ice breaking directly into the lake.
The road ripples through stagnated mounds of moraine and various lakes. It then slopes downhill sharply and joins a bridge passing from over a wide, rocky, glacial river. A second bridge is then crossed. This one goes over a small river lying between two larger lakes. The road continues to rolls besides the lake, going by a river flowing outwards, meeting a stony gorge. It ascents to pass through an opening between rocky mounts and brings you across yet another lake. On a summit next to the road, towards the left is a picnic point overlooking a magnificent waterfall and the edge of the ice cap. This place is called Israndsdalen. Here the glacier is bordered by a huge, sideways moraine. Afterward, the ice from the glacier breaks directly into a river. At some other places, the edge of the glacier pours water straight into the river and widens it. The road, though undulating mostly goes downwards, reaching the nose of Russells Glacier. At this point, there is another picnic place offering a view of a strong, dark, grey waterfall. You will notice many sandbanks deposited by the river, at this point as well as further along the river.
Start from Russel Glacier
Starting your journey from here would help you skip the initial 12 km (7 &1/2 miles) of the walk. This part of the road is much less undulating. It is near a lake, next to which you will find lots of cotton grass growing. Above the nose of the glacier, ice towers or jagged seracs are visible. Following this road, you will get to a place with a black boulder on the right, offering a spectacular sight of the Aajuitsup, better known as the Long Lake. The lake is 10 km (6 ¼) miles long and approximately 250m (820 ft.) above the sea level. This is the largest lake that is visible from the road.
Passing by near a cliff, the road elevates sharply, crosses a number of barrier gates and an opening between the hills at around 300m (985 ft.). From here onwards, the slopes are mainly covered by willow scrubs and a little later, the unique silhouette of the Sugar Load becomes noticeable. The path then continues downwards to reach the Arctic dessert of Sandflugtdalen. Continuing down the track, a sandy trail will emerge on the right; this trail has an irregular route, details of which will be known to you shortly. In the beginning, over a short distance, is a sharp elevation. The rest of it is an easy journey with beautiful views.
A glacial river situated at the center of Sandflugtdalen flows downstream and brings along a large amount of sand and silt with it. When the river flow is less, some of the sand and silt tends to settle along the path to form mudflats and sandbanks. When the weather is warm and dry, some of the same material (also known as ‘loess’ turns into dust-storms, which then lands as drifts and dunes. The plantation is mainly roothold in this part of Sandflugtdalen. However, it can get engulfed by more drifting. Sandflugtdalen is located at a height of 150m (490 ft.) above sea level.
Rolling along the sandy valley bottom, the road continues forward. It then passes the crushed relics of an aircraft. This US aircraft crashed in 1968 along with two others. The pilots were all able to eject safely. Going along the mudflats, you will cross a metal plate bridge. Further down the sandy road, you will cross yet another metal plate bridge. Those who are not in a rush might notice animal tracks of hares, foxes, reindeers and musk oxen. The dunes are covered with willow-herbs with broad leaves and tall, lyme grass with tough stalks.
Ascending from the sands, this road ripples along a sequence of small and beautiful lakes with willow scrubs grown along with their edges. On your left, you will come across a signboard for Vandfeld. Continue on the same road and you will pass an opening next to the vertical-sided Sugar Loaf. (To climb up, there is a sharply rising track which also goes back in the same direction.) The road then descends downwards. Along the path, you will see a vast circle of an area marked by signboards. This is a ‘prohibited’ area. However, you are allowed to pass from the road. Some dangerous materials were dumped in this place by the US military. This place has three little picturesque lakes and a cabin. The dirty grey glacial torrent of Akuliarusiarsuup can be seen when going along the dirt road. From this point, you can also see the Watson’s River flowing down a rocky, narrow tightening underneath the twin peaks of the Sugar Loaf.
Copses of impermeable willow border a smooth part of the road. You will also see some planted pines with metal tags. On the left, you will notice a path emerging. However, the main road keeps going ahead beside a golf course. The entire area is mainly covered with sand and there is no fairway as you would expect to see on a golf course. The ‘club house’ is merely a hut! The road then ascends slightly uphill, while passing an old stone pit. It then descends downwards and becomes a part of properly-constructed tarmac road. To get to Kangerlussuaq, take a right turn onto the main road, Marius Olsen-ip Aqq, and it will take you to the airport.0