A beautiful hike along the fjord between the abandoned settlement of Assaqutaq and Sisimiut.
What you can expect on the trail
Assaqutaq is an abandoned settlement located in the Amerloq Fjord at the base of Nasaasaaq Mountain. The settlement was officially closed in 1970 under the government’s G60 initiative to consolidate the population of Greenland, and the buildings left to decay. In recent years, a handful of the buildings have been restored and are now used for school excursions and special occasions. This allows visitors to imagine clearly how the settlement used to look, and see what several decades in the harsh Arctic climate can do.
The trail between Sisimiut and Assaqutaq is wedged between the Nasaasaaq mountain range and the fjord, and follows the base of the mountains all the way to the settlement. It is well-marked and does not have large steep climbs. However, it does require rock scrambling and, in a few places, small sections of rock climbing – including straight out of Assaqutaq where there are ladder rungs to help you ascend the cliff.
The hike begins on the opposite side of the lake to the Taseralik Cultural Centre. From there, the trail is fairly clear as it heads towards the Amerloq Fjord across what can be quite boggy ground. Once you get over a first small pass, the trail takes a sharp right and heads towards the fjord, rather than across the flat-looking section directly towards the steep wall of the mountain. You ascend a little further along on a short, very steep section of loose gravel.
From here, the trail undulates over a few smaller and gentler passes before coming to the first rock climb. If you head over to the left there is a way around this obstacle. There are several more simpler rock climbs and then the boulder fields. Follow the route markers as best you can while being very careful withyour footing. It is best to take it slowly to ensure you don’t fall, but also to take in the incredible view of the fjord on one side and Nasaasaaq rising above you on the other.
Once through the boulder fields, the hiking becomes a little easier though does pass through a few small Arctic Willow patches where the trail can become hidden in the branches. You will also pass through mounds of boulders and a small grave – please do not disturb these as you hike.
The trail continues along the side of the mountains and you will soon see Assaqutaq appear in front of you to the left. Once you have hiked to the furthest point of the settlement, the trail descends sharply and steeply towards a wooden bridge. Here you will need to climb down a couple of rock ledges and a ~10m cliff with the assistance of some ladder rungs. Cross the bridge to explore Assaqutaq.
The return to Sisimiut is via the same route, or you can pre-arrange a boat transfer to bring you back to town. You can also sail out and hike back, which is a bit easier from a logistics perspective.
- We highly recommend taking a boat transfer/tour out to Assaqutaq and hiking back to Sisimiut. Although it is a beautiful hike, it is quite difficult and not really possible to go out and back in the one day.
- There is no cell phone coverage along most of this trail. Ideally, you should do this hike with another person, but at least let someone know your plans and when you expect to return.
- Weather can change very quickly. Even on a sunny day, make sure you bring a wind- and waterproof jacket with you as a minimum.
- Make sure you bring a full water bottle – preferably 1.5L or more (especially on hot days). You can refill your bottle from any stream along the way (the water is clean and safe to drink) but there is a large stretch in the middle with little water. We also recommend you bring sunscreen, a sun hat, and a mosquito head-net.
- Please minimize your impact on the environment. Follow existing roads and trails, don’t build or alter cairns, and take all your rubbish back to Sisimiut with you.
- If you are hiking early or late in the season, be careful of slippery surfaces.