After leaving Zürich, my travels brought me to the Alpstein mountains. A corner of Switzerland that not only dazzles with a rare beauty but is also home to a number of fantastic hiking trails.
Having enjoyed the finer city delights that Zürich had to offer, I was more than eager to sample the fresh air and scenery that this part of the world is famous for. It would also be nice to slip on the hiking boots and stretch out the legs along some of those hiking trails.
For my trip I would be staying in Weissbad. I would be taking the train from Zürich to Gossau before getting a connection to Weissbad which is located just a few stops further down the line from the better known town of Appenzell. I paid £20 for my train ticket from Zürich, but tickets can be as low as £12 or as high as £30, so check in advance and book early. From Weissbad, Wasserauen the starting point of the hiking trail is just a few train stops further down the line.
Swiss franc (CHF)
Where to stay:
Frohe Aussicht- with its location just a few train stops from the hiking start point in Wasserauen, it is the perfect place to base yourself for your hiking adventures. Cosy, clean and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there. I paid £40 a night for a single room which included breakfast. Bear in mind that I was travelling in the off-season so prices might be a little higher in the more popular months.
Hotel Lowen- located in the beautiful town of Appenzell, a 10 minute train ride to Wasserauen. Cosy, friendly and perfectly located for hikers who are looking to explore the area.
Zürich is also only a two hour train journey away, so it is possible to visit the area for a day hike before returning to Zürich. Although possible, I would recommend staying somewhere closer giving you more time to appreciate the true beauty and allowing you to fully explore the area.
With my accommodation taken care of and after a good night’s rest, I was all raring to go at the crack of dawn and couldn’t wait to see what this picturesque part of Switzerland had to offer. So with that in mind, I grabbed my camera backpack and set off on my way.
As my accommodation was only a 15 minute walk to the hiking start point in Wasserauen, I decided that I would take a stroll, instead of getting the train that runs along the line from Appenzell. The walk snakes its way through the impressive mountain villages and is a picture of beauty that would not look out of place in a Walt Disney film.
Hiking route, duration and difficulty:
I would begin my journey in Wasserauen where I would make my ascent up to Ebenalp before making my descent down to Ascher and then onto the picturesque Seealpsee Lake. There are many variants to the route that you can take and a wide range of hiking trails throughout this picturesque part of north east Switzerland. The route that I would be hiking takes around 4- 5 hours in ideal conditions. I was hiking in the snow, which when I reached the foot of Ebenalp was waist deep in some parts as I meandered off track. It is a little trickier in deep snow as the trail marks and hiking path are sometimes harder to see. So if you are planning on hiking in the winter and stopping off to take photographs like I was, then allow for another 60-90 minutes as conditions can be a little harder and more slippery in places. I would say that the overall difficulty of the hike itself is moderate as there are some steep climbs but there is a path all of the way along the trail.
The starting point of the trail leads you straight into forest where you will be greeted with a maze-like steep incline. The incline lasted for a good 30-45 minutes as it weaves its way up the mountainside. As I made my way through the slippery conditions and increasing altitude, the views that were on offer were simply staggering. The air had a crisp, clean feel and as I reached the top of the trail I was welcomed with quite the spectacular view.
From here the trail levelled out for the next 5-10 minutes before I would start unbeknown to me a mammoth ascent up and around to Ebenalp. I decided to take the route bringing me round the back of Ebenalp and then up to the top. This would have been fine ordinarily, but due to the heavy snow that had fallen the previous night the trail was at some points waist deep in snow. This is no exaggeration and I was left ploughing my way through for what seemed like a good hour. I still have no idea whether I was off the trail or not due to the severity of the snow in certain areas and after what seemed like an eternity I was finally at the summit of Ebenalp where I could relax and take in the views.
I should mention that you can during season take the cable car up to the Ebenalp viewing point if you are not keen on hiking but would still like to take in the view. The cable car takes you from the staring point in Wasserauen all the way to Ebenalp.
After stopping to admire the views which I had all to myself, I began my descent down to Ascher. This is a 20-30 minute hike where you will pass through a cave before you finally arrive at the highly instagrammed Ascher Cliff restaurant. It is quite the spectacular setting and one that offers up fantastic views of the Seealpsee lake that resides below. Unfortunately due to the time of the year that I was visiting, the restaurant was under repair and the fog was passing through, so I was unable to get any photographs.
My disappointment at not being able to get a photograph of the restaurant was short-lived as I made my way down to the breathtaking Seealpsee lake. The walk from Ascher takes between 45 minutes to an hour. It is a picturesque walk that winds and leads you to the alpine lake that simply dazzles with a rare natural beauty.
Seealpsee is a truly incredible setting; an alpine lake surrounded by imposing mountainous scenery, providing that gentle reminder from Mother Nature herself that you are a mere speck in the grand scheme of things.
Seealpsee was a peaceful haven that allowed me time for reflection and admiration of just what a spectacular place it really is. You could have heard a pin drop as a deafening silence fell upon giant mountainous shoulders while I was able to appreciate just what I was seeing before my very own eyes. These are the moments that Point Break Lifestyle represents, those breathtaking memories that show us that we needn’t be beholden to limitation. I had been truly humbled by Mother Nature.
You should definitely take a stroll around the lake and catch all of its majestic beauty from all angles. There is a restaurant open during the brighter seasons of the year that offers drinks and food whilst providing a well-earned seat after a long day’s hike. A walk around the lake should take no longer than 20-30 minutes. I was there for quite some time as I was snapping away with my camera in awe of my surroundings.
It was then time for me to make my way back to Wasserrauen, with a choice of route. One route follows a flat paved road that takes around 30-40 minutes. The other, more scenic route, climbs back up above the lake taking between 50 minutes to an hour offering up more spectacular views along the way. Both routes are signposted and I decided upon the latter and am pleased to say that I wasn’t left disappointed. The view that leads down to the lake was fantastic and allowed me to drink in more of the beauty before I said goodbye and made my way back to Wasserauen.
I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure to the Alpstein mountains. So much so that I would like to return and hike the three lakes trail or one of the many others that this part of Switzerland has on offer. The beauty is breathtaking and the hikes are spectacular meaning that a date with this Swiss beauty is one that I would highly recommend. I was reminded of the vast enormity of nature and it served as a timely reminder that we are not long for this world and that we should make the best and most of it while we are here. Never let one moment pass by your eyes without you being present and dare to believe in a lifestyle that holds no limits!
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