Make a reservation for an overnight stay at the mountain hut.
Good to know
July is perfect for a multi-day hike, but mountain weather can change quickly. Take a look at the weather forecasts a couple days in advance.
In summertime (June to September), you can start the hike as late as lunchtime, because sunset isn't too early. On the first day, the hike takes about 2-4 hours up to the mountain hut.
Recommended time of the year
I wouldn't recommend doing the hike from November through March because of snow.
About This Day
Hike through forests, over lush-green hills and crawl through caves on this amazing outdoor adventure! Enjoy traditional Swiss food at Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli, one of the most breathtaking locations you'll ever dine at and the perfect lunch spot on your Switzerland family vacation. After a restful night at the picturesque and family-friendly Berggasthaus Ebenalp continue your hike in the morning mist with beautiful views of Lake Seealpsee reflecting the rising sun. The scenery along the trail is so varied even little explorers won’t get bored. This experience is a treat for all nature-loving families!
Nestled on a rock face 100 metres (650 feet) high, 1,454 metres (~1 mi) above sea level, the mountain hostelry Berggasthaus Aescher offers a welcoming stop in an extraordinary and stunning location. A photo of the guesthouse adorns the front cover of the book Destination of a Lifetime: 225 of the World's Most Amazing Places published by National Geographic. We saw the photo and immediately put it on our family bucket list. After a steep hike, this is the perfect place to rest and to taste some Swiss food while soaking in the breathtaking scenery. Kids will be happy here too because they have a little playground and lots of animals (sheep, ponies, goats, etc.).
DIRECTIONSTo start the hike you have to drive to Wasserauen. You can reach it by car from Appenzell via Steinegg and Weissbad. Traveling by public transport (Appenzell Railways), you can easily reach Wasserauen via Gossau or St. Gallen. From Wasserauen, take the moderately difficult hike (#5 or #6) from the mountain cable car station, which takes about 2-4 hours. If you don't want to hike, you can take a cable car from Wasserauen that will whisk you in six-minutes to Ebenalp. From there you still have to hike a bit down to get to Berggasthaus Äscher; it takes about 30 minutes (2 km; 1.2 mi). For the cable car, an individual ticket (one way) is about 20 CHF (Swiss francs).
TIP Before starting the hike, prepare yourself with a hiking map, that is provided for free at the cable car station. You can select the hiking trail that will suit your family’s fitness level and mountain experience best. This itinerary is an example of a moderate hike that won't take too much time.
The Berggasthaus Ebenalp offers eight rooms (17 beds) and various dormitories for up to 80 occupants. They offer two double rooms, which are perfect if you hiked with a small child or baby. They provide a crib and linen too. There are shared bathrooms on each of the floors. There is also a lovely alpine garden with local flowers below the Berggasthaus. Many of these plants are threatened species and it was a lovely sight. Experiencing the sunset in the mountain was also very special and something you’ll cherish forever. After dinner, we enjoyed a couple evening: tasting homemade liquor in the lounge, while our baby slept peacefully upstairs (a baby monitor was provided by the guest house). The next day we were treated to a nice breakfast with homemade marmalade and after the clouds passed, we set out to continue our hike.
DIRECTIONSStarting from Berggastaus Aescher, follow the well-maintained hiking trail #1 for this non-strenuous 2 km (1.2 mi) hike. On the way, you will pass through the magical Wildkirchli Caves to an old hermitage and chapel. The trail continues eastward along a rock face, through a wooden gallery. You can also reach the Berggasthaus Ebenalp directly via cable car from Wasserauen.
TIP I would recommend booking a room as early as possible; summertime and weekends are often booked up weeks in advance.
After two hours hiking, you will reach Lake Seealpsee. The lake is the perfect highlight at the end of this overnight hike because you can refresh before leaving home. Enjoy the beautiful location, surrounded by the Swiss mountains. Dip your feet in the cold water to cool off and visit the cheese dairy on the eastern side of the lake for a direct insight into traditional Swiss cheese making. Then walk around the lake to the western side to have lunch at the terrace of the Gasthaus Forelle
DIRECTIONSTo reach Lake Seealpsee from Berggasthaus Ebenalb, follow trail #9 (or from Berggasthaus Aescher trail #1) along the Alpstein Range. The trail takes about one hour and it isn't very steep. Follow the path to "Altenalp mountain hut" and about 50 meters (55 yards) before you reach the hut, take the trail on the left side that leads down to the lake. From here the descent begins toward the lake. The downhill run takes about 1 hour and is very narrow and steep, but offers a beautiful panorama of the lake. Check your map: there are several hiking trails leading to the Seealpsee, but we chose the quickest.
TIP Take your time at the lake. It is so enjoyable to rest a while, to reflect on the hike, to nap or to let the kids play before putting them back in the car. From the lake, it takes only 30 minutes to hike back to the parking lot at the cable car station.