Appenzell: Inner and Outer

Time is getting away from us, and ourIMG_1722 must-see list in Switzerland is longer than we have days. However, we are getting very, very close to our goal of visiting every one of the 26 cantons.

I’m sure we would have gone to Appenzell sooner than July, but when we had time, the weather was often rainy. The other issue is that Appenzell is divided into two cantons – Inner and Outer, the split coming about during the Reformation when it was divided between Reformed and Catholic.

All the tourist stuff is in Inner Appenzell (the town itself with all the cute cheese and traditional museums), but with the weather so nice, we chose to take probably the most popular hike in the area.

Appenzell is considered the country bumpkin region and the butt of jokes, maybe because women did not get to vote on local issues until the 1990s.

The fun begins with the cable car lift up to Ebenalp, the highest peak in Appenzellerland. As you near the top, you can see the cave that the hike goes through, and suddenly, you are at the top.

A steep, but not too difficult hike down leads to the cave in about 10 minutes. After walking through the cave, you emerge on the other side at a hut and the Wildkirchli (little wild church) where hermit monks lived from 1658 to 1853.

IMG_1705After 5 minutes of looking and picture-taking, round the corner to this view of the Berggasthaus Aescher. This 170-year-old guesthouse has primitive rooms to rent and traditional Swiss fare in the restaurant. As you can imagine on a perfect Saturday in July, there were few places available to sit, so we chose the last two seats inside. I had a view through the windows of the mountains. H had a view of the side of the mountain which doubled as the restaurant wall.

Refueled for the rest of the afternoon, we headed towards Seealpsee (Lake Alp-sea?) by heading down, down, down. The switchbacks proved challenging as they were extremely rocky and uneven and quite steep. Thankfully we were headed downhill and not up (we passed many hikers, though, sturdier than me) and we were mostly in the shade.

If you have small kids, you are advised to put them on a leash….


For the very first time this year, I used the hiking pole that I purchased especially for this year. I had not used it yet, partly because it seems that one must have TWO hiking poles in Switzerland. However, I was very glad to have my one pole with me for this tricky descent.


A common site in Switzerland.

A good 45-50 minutes of this, and we reached the paved road that led to the lake past many cows. On the side of the mountain, by the road, and even in the lake.

One can walk around the entire lake in about 45-minutes, listening to more cowbells, seeing little restaurants and places to buy cheese and milk, and seeing more beautiful scenery and people building fires for picnics.

The remainder of the hike, though paved, is a quite steep descent, and even downhill presented its challenges. By the time we reached the train station, we had come 7.4 km (about 4.6 miles) at a 2500 ft. elevation loss. My quads were sore for several days.

For specific details about the this hike, please see this post on Moms : Tots : Zürich which is a fabulous blog about places to go in Switzerland (good information for kids of all ages).

What about Outer Appenzell, I hear you asking. On the way home we got off the train in the main city of that canton, Herisau, knowing that the next train would be by in about 30 minutes. We stepped into the convenience store and bought Mövenpick ice cream bars, enjoying our moment in the canton.

Only Canton Uri remains!