“The Itijjagiaq Trail is more of an expanse than a trail.”
So writes Ossie Michelin in his feature story about the trail in the January/February 2018 issue of Canadian Geographic, and for good reason: the Itijjagiaq (Inuktitut for “over the land”) has no trail markers or infrastructure save nine warming huts spaced out along its 120-kilometre length. And although part of the trail follows the meandering Soper River through Katannilik Territorial Park into the heart of Baffin Island's Meta Incognita Peninsula, users choose their own path over its rocky outcrops and frigid Arctic streams.
Listen and use your cursor or finger to look around as Katannilik Territorial Park ranger Andrew Boyd explains some of the features — and hazards — of the trail:
Before it became part of The Great Trail's coast-to-coast-to-coast network — the only section of trail found in Nunavut — few southerners knew anything about the route, but it has a long history among the Inuit of southern Baffin Island. The trail is the quickest overland route between Iqaluit and Kimmirut, particularly in the winter, when it's possible to make the journey by snowmobile in less than a day. In the summer, the river valley teems with life and locals hunt geese and caribou, fish for char and pick luscious berries by the thousands.
Listen and use your cursor or finger to look around as conservation officer Sean Noble discusses how the locals use the Itijjagiaq:
Due to its remoteness, the Itijjagiaq Trail is recommended for experienced backcountry hikers and paddlers only. Visitors are required to register with the Katannilik park rangers and carry GPS and communications equipment for safety. But those willing and able to make the journey are amply rewarded with the opportunity to spot iconic Arctic wildlife, scramble over billion-year-old rocks, and visit the isolated but friendly community of Kimmirut, Baffin's southernmost settlement.
Use your cursor or finger to look around at the scenery on the trail and the Kimmirut harbour: