One thing I really love about Switzerland is how easy it is to organize a nature getaway here. Here is my algorithm:
- Open a map.
- Pick a village next to the mountains and a forest that has a train station or at least a bus stop. A lake nearby would be a bonus.
- Open the website of the village or the nearest cable car. It will almost for sure contain a description of hike trails including elevation/descent numbers and the map of all trails.
- Pick a trail, buy a ticket and go!
A serious advantage of the approach is that like this one can find wonderful and not very famous places which means no tourists and healthier nature. One of such Alpine gems is Wasserauen in the canton of Appenzell.
5-6 hour long hike of medium difficulty includes a lot of diverse landscapes: from a spruce forest and meadows to caves and mountain top panoramas. I strongly recommend this hike to anyone who wants to see the “true” postcard Switzerland with its cows, a mountain lake, steep cliffs, and snowy peaks in the far.
After our arrival to Wasserauen train station (2.5 hours by train from Zurich), we set off towards the lake through a forest. This path has noticeable elevation so if you would like a more relaxed walk you can instead go along the river.
The mountain trail rewarded us with the first views on the mountains:
The canton of Appenzell is famous for its cheese which is one of the best known Swiss cheeses (it is even called Appenzeller). From time to time you will encounter farms where you can taste and buy local cheeses, made with cow milk and not only:
The cheese maker is inviting to taste her products:
Finally it is time to descent to the lake for a break. The slopes become less steep, and cows are more comfortable to graze there:
The descent is accompanied by the sound of cow bells mixed with alphorn music which perfectly fits this landscape with the lake and the mountains.
Take your time at the like to admire the perfecly clear water and enjoy the calmness of this place.
The name of the lake is Seealpsee which means “lake Alpine Lake”: the life is simple here, so are the names.
Finally found the source of the sounds:
After the break it is time for the second, more challenging part of the hike: the ascent to the Aescher restaurant which is built into a cliff. The opposite side of the ravine is seen now where the forest trail from the first half of the hike runs.
We approached the restaurant covered in sweat. Avoid such hikes in the warm weather if you do not want to get grilled! A filling Swiss lunch and a breathtaking view are your rewards for the challenge of the ascent.
The lunch will give enough energy to overcome the last and the shortest stretch of the trail. After going through a small cave which used to be a hermit house, we found ourself on the top of Ebenalp to see all the forests, meadows, and mountains in one panorama:
Time to go home: the cable car from Ebenalp will bring you down right to Wasserauen station where your train to Zurich already awaits.