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How Do I Get to Schafler Ridge? A Complete Guide For One of Switzerland’s Best Hikes

  • Post last modified:September 3, 2023
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Switzerland has some incredible hiking, and Schafler Ridge is definitely one that you won't want to miss!


The striking ridge along the cliffs is absolutely breathtaking, and unlike most other hikes we have done, this one can be combined with a couple of other cool attractions, such as the Aesher Mountain Hut, and the beautiful lake Sealpsee. 


While a lot of hikes are simple out-and-back trails, there is a variety of different ways that you can visit Schafler Ridge. That's why we've created this full guide! So now you have all the info you need to plan your visit to Schafler Ridge, and the other fun things in the Appenzell area of Switzerland.

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Where is Schafler Ridge?

Schafler Ridge is a gorgeous part of the Swiss Alps, which is situated in Appenzell, an area that is located in the east of Switzerland.

where is Schafler Ridge in Switzerland

Schafler Ridge is in the north east corner of Switzerland.


How Do I Get to Schafler Ridge?

Schafler Ridge can only be accessed on foot! Part of the hike can be replaced by taking a cable car, so this depends on how fit you are, the time you have, and what kind of budget you are working with. We're here to share the different options so that you can choose the route that's right for you.


How Do I Get to Schafler Ridge? : Where to Start

No matter what option you choose, the area for starting the hike to Schafler Ridge will be the same. If you are taking the train, you will need to take the train from Appenzell to Wasserauen. If you are driving, the parking lot can be located right past the cable car station (Bahnhof Wasserauen).

Wasserauen, town to start hiking Schafler Ridge

Wasserauen is a small town where the hike to Schafler Ridge begins.

Parking in Wasserauen

If you are driving like we were, then you'll have to park in the main lot, where all of the different trails (as well as the cable car) begin. The parking is free for the first half hour, 3 CHF for up to 3 hours, and 5 CHF for 24 hours. You can either pay on the EasyPark App, or you can pay with coins (they don't give you change though).


If you are using coins make sure you have enough! We ran back to the car after putting in 3 CHF and the machine just ate our money that we put in.


It's important to note that there is paved road that continues past the parking lot, but it is only allowed to be driven on by locals. For this reason everyone needs to park in the same lot.

Seealpsee

Seealpsee has a road, but it is only accessible for locals.

Taking the Train to Wasserauen

The closest station to Wasserauen is Appenzell, which is just 11 minutes, and a direct train ride for 5 CHF. Here can book your ticket from Appenzell to Wasserauen if you'd like to in advance.


In order to get to Appenzell, you can take a train from Zurich stopping in St Gallen, which takes a little under 2 hours for the whole trip. Regular tickets are 40 CHF, and first class tickets are 70 CHF. You can book your tickets in the station, or you can book your tickets online in advance for the best availability.


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The Hike to Schafler Ridge

Alright, now that you know how to get to Wasserauen, it's time to go over the different options for the hike! There are quite a few of them, and it really depends on if you plan on doing just Schafler Ridge, or if you plan on combining it with Seealpsee, or any of the mountain huts along the way. We're going to go over several different options, so that you can choose which is the right one for you.

Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

Schafler Ridge pin
Schafler Ridge pin
Schafler Ridge pin

Hiking Vs the Cable Car

Wasserauen has a full map of different trails to choose from, as well as a cable car to give you a break from all of the hiking. The cable car is of course the more expensive option, while hiking is more time-consuming.


The cable car runs from 7:30 am to 7 pm daily, and tickets can be purchased online or in the station (if you can we would suggest doing it online). The price for the cable car is 22 CHF one way, and 34 CHF roundtrip. If you have the Swiss Travel Pass, then these prices are half off.


The cable car basically saves you a lot of time though, because there is no route directly from the cable car station, and if you don't get the cable car, you'll have to go to the lake first to reach the other trails leading to Schafler Ridge.

views from the Wasserauen cable car to Schafler Ridge
views from the Wasserauen cable car to Schafler Ridge
views from the Wasserauen cable car to Schafler Ridge

The cable car gives beautiful views, and saves you time.

Hiking to Schafler Ridge (and Schafler Ridge Only)

If your goal is to go to straight to Schafler Ridge, and you are not interested in seeing the lake, you have two different options: Taking the cable car, or walking the whole way.


Option #1: Taking the Cable Car

This is obviously the easier route, but is definitely the more expensive one. If you take the cable car, the ride will be 6 minutes up to the top, with spectacular views. From there you can hike directly up to the Schafler Ridge, and it should take around 1 hour.


The ridge itself starts from right after the Schafler mountain hut, and takes 10-15 minutes each way. You would then have to walk the same route you came from, and take the cable car back down before the last one at 7 pm.


For this whole journey, we would suggest carving out 3-4 hours (depending on how many pictures you take, or if you want to stop for a bite to eat).

cable car from Wasserauen to Schafler Ridge

The cable car saves a couple of hours if you plan on just visiting Schafler Ridge.

Option #2: Hiking to Schafler Ridge

When we said Schafler Ridge only, that really only refers to if you take the cable car. If you want to hike all the way to Schafler Ridge, you will in fact have to hike to Seealpsee first. This part is a 30 minute walk along a paved road, or you can take the more scenic route to the left of it, which goes through the forest. 


The woman quoted us an hour and 15 minutes, but she also told us the route along the road was an hour - so we assume it's probably 45 minutes to an hour if you go through the forest. (It goes uphill, but definitely isn't too steep. (You could also take a few other hiking trails, but these are longer).


Hiking from Sealpsee to Schafler Ridge

From Sealpsee there are two different routes up to Schafler Ridge (number 9 on the map), one which is the short and steep route, and the other which takes a bit longer, and gradually inclines. We decided to opt for the short and steep route, which is the trail you take by staying to the right. It took us 45 minutes, but we went super fast, and that was coming from the top back down. We would calculate closer to an hour or a bit more walking from the lake up to Schafler Ridge.


Once you get to the base of Schafler Ridge, you'll have 10-15 minutes walking along the ridge until you get to the mountain hut. To get back, the best way will be to simply retrace your steps back down.


Basically if you are walking the entire thing, we would say to carve out around 5 hours of your day between stops, taking photos, and having a bite (whether you bring your own or stop at one of the restaurants).

Schafler Ridge
Schafler Ridge
Schafler Ridge

Although it's not a long stretch, you'll want to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the ridge.


Hiking to Schafler Ridge + Seealpsee + Aescher Mountain Hut

This is the route that we took, and highly recommend! We got to see the beautiful lake, the adorable mountain hut, and the stunning ridge, all in one hike!


Just like the other route, you have the option for taking the cable car, or hiking the whole thing. We will outline the difference between options, so that you can choose what's best for you.

hiking Schafler Ridge in Appenzell
Seealpsee, hiking Schafler Ridge in Appenzell
Aescher Hut, hiking Schafler Ridge in Appenzell
hiking Schafler Ridge in Appenzell

There are a few different areas to enjoy hiking in the same area.

Option #1: Taking the Cable Car One Way Up

This is the option we took, and honestly think that it is the most complete, with the least amount of effort.


Step 1: Taking the Cable Car to the Top of the Mountain 

First you will take the cable car to the upper station. This 6 minute ride will have incredible views, and will cost you 22 CHF.


Step 2: Walking to Aescher

From the top of the cable car there is a super easy trail that goes down to the Aescher Mountain Hut. There are wide and short steps that take you through a cool cave, past a small church, and then to the hut, in just 10-15 minutes. In our opinion, for this unique spot, it is absolutely worth the tiny detour for visiting Schafler Ridge.

how to get to Aescher House
how to get to Aescher House
how to get to Aescher House
how to get to Aescher House
cave on the way to Aescher hut

The hike to Aescher is super easy, and has a lot to see along the way.

At Aescher Mountain Hut you can get a bite to eat, with incredible views! If you plan on going in the evening, you can also spend the night to wake up super early already up in the mountain (which if we knew this is what we would have done).

Aescher House, hiking to Schafler House
Aescher House, hiking to Schafler House

The Aescher Hut has great views, a restaurant, and rooms to sleep in.

Step 3: Hiking from Aescher to Schafler Ridge

You actually don't have to turn around to get to the trail to Schafler Ridge, you just have to continue along the path from the hut. 


First you'll walk around 10 minutes and then you'll reach a fork. At the fork, stay to the right. It will be 15 minutes more before you reach a turnstile. After that walk 5 more minutes and you'll reach another fork. You can honestly go either way, but the left has a sign that it is a bit more dangerous.


We opted for going to the right. The sign quoted 35 minutes to the top, and it only took us 15. Once we got to the mountain hut, we used the bathroom and filled up our water. You can also grab a bite to eat here, or even stay the night if you happen to be arriving late. Choosing this option will break up your hiking, and allow you to check out Schafler Ridge during sunrise without having to hike!

Schafler hut next to Schafler Ridge

Schafler has a hut at the top, right next to Schafler Ridge.

Step 4: Walking Along Schafler Ridge

Right from the Schafler Ridge hut you'll see a fork. If you go to the left it's just a viewpoint, and then on the right is the trail of Schafler Ridge. You'll see stunning views pretty much right away! The walk along the ridge itself isn't too long, and can take just 10-15 minutes, so we suggest taking your time and taking all your pictures right when you see the views! We spent a full hour taking pictures and having our lunch.


The path is pretty narrow, so just make sure to stay to the right. The wind also picks up a bit in this area, so you'll want to make sure you have a jacket or something to put on.

walking along Schafler Ridge
walking along Schafler Ridge
walking along Schafler Ridge


Step 5: Hiking Down to Seelpsee

You'll notice that you start heading down, rather than walking along the entire ridge. This is when you'll actually start making your way to the next area. It will be 30 minutes until you'll reach a fork, and you'll see a beautiful view of the lake! 

hiking from Schafler Ridge to Seealpsee
hiking from Schafler Ridge to Seealpsee
walking along Schafler Ridge

After 30 minutes, you'll have beautiful views of the lake below.


From this point you can either continue straight towards Mesmer (another mountain hut) or you can go to the left straight to the lake. This is the steeper option, but it honestly wasn't nearly as bad as the woman at the cable car station made it seem.


After 10 minutes you'll find a house with a well, and a ton of cows. Continue through a few turnstiles, and you'll have about 35-40 minutes of walking through the forest. Once it opens up you'll see the main road, and the lake is just a few minutes walking to the left!

hiking from Schafler Ridge to Seealpsee
hiking from Schafler Ridge to Seealpsee
hiking from Schafler Ridge to Seealpsee
hiking from Schafler Ridge to Seealpsee

The hike first goes through a farm, and then through the forest.

Step 6: Enjoy Seealpsee

The lake is beautiful, and you'll notice that there is a restaurant/hotel right on one end. This is where you'll find a big area of rocks to hang out or take pictures, or you can grab a bite or drink at the restaurant with great views of the lake.

restaurant at Seealpsee

There is a restaurant perched right on Seealpsee.

We also saw boats for rent, but as we arrived late, the rentals were no longer running for the day. If you happen to go early, then this is also a fun way to enjoy Seealpsee.

Seealpsee lake
Seealpsee lake
Step 7: Walking Back to Wasserauen

Right next to the lake you'll find the paved road that heads back to the town of Wasserauen. The sign quoted 45 minutes, but it took us just 25 to walk back down to the parking lot.


Alternatively, you could take the route back through the forest. This is a bit of a longer route, but apparently is much more scenic.


Option #2: Taking the Cable Car One Way Down

This option is actually the same as the one that we did, just reversed. Instead you would walk to the lake, then from the lake to Schafler Ridge, down to Aescher, and then finish with the cable car.


This is the route that the woman originally told us to take. Honestly though, in this scenario you would have to do more hiking up, rather than down. We prefer going down, but it's entirely up to you.


Option #3: Taking the Cable Car Both Ways

We honestly think that this is a bit of a waste, as if you take the cable car up, hike to Aescher, Schafler Ridge, and the lake, you will then have another hike from the lake! 


While the walk from the lake down to the parking lot is 25-30 minutes, the hike back to the cable car will probably take you double the amount of time. We also heard it is very steep and intense, so unless you are really trying to add some adventure and do the scenic route, then this honestly is a waste of time and money in our opinion. However, we like to share all options, as everyone is different!

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Amenities Around Schafler Ridge

We definitely have a love-hate relationship with Switzerland when it comes to their hikes. Most places are either very expensive to get to, or take quite a bit of time. However, we do have to say that the Swiss make every hike enjoyable! This is because they always add a ton of amenities, making it much more comfortable for travelers.

cabins in Wasserauen

There are plenty of places to stay in the town, and in the mountains.

The hiking trails around Appenzell have quite a few places to eat, go to the bathroom, and even sleep! Here are the different options:


The Parking Lot of Wasserauen

Right next to the parking lot is a set of bathrooms, which are free of charge to use.


Restaurant in Wasserauen

There is a restaurant that is located right off the side of the road between the parking lot and the cable car station. We couldn't find a timetable or menu online, but they were setting up the restaurant when we were parking in the late morning.


Hotel Alpenrose

This hotel is located right next to the parking lot in the town of Wasserauen. It has simple rooms to spend the night before or after your hike, as well as a restaurant for both those that are and aren't staying there.


Aescher Mountain Hut

If you're looking for a unique experience in Switzerland, then this is definitely one of them! This is actually both a restaurant and hotel, perched right into the mountain, and a 10-15 minute walk from the top of the cable car. 


The mountain hut has both hostel-style and private rooms. The shared room fits 13 people, and the rate is 64 francs for a bed, with breakfast included. There are also two double rooms, which are 138 per person, which also includes breakfast.


To make a booking you can either make a booking request online, or call them. Make sure to book in advance, especially if you plan on visiting on the weekend.


Berggasthaus Schafler

Want to wake up at the top of Schafler Ridge? Just like the Aescher mountain hut, you can also stay even closer to Schafler Ridge at the Berggasthaus Schafler. You can booking by calling them at +41 71 799 11 44 if you would like to stay, or you can simply go in for a well-deserved meal after you finish your hike up to Schafler Ridge.


Berggasthaus Mesmer

This is another guesthouse/restaurant that you can go to during your hiking adventure. We were recommended to go here after hiking down Schafler Ridge, as it is located on one of the trails that goes down to the lake. This spot has great views, but we opted to go down the other trail, which was steeper, and didn't take as long so that we could get to the lake faster.

If you would like to book a room, you can most likely walk in as it isn't as popular as the other two mentioned. However, if you would like to book in advance, or have any questions, you can contact them via phone (+41 71 799 12 55) or their email.


Berggasthaus Seealpsee

This guesthouse and restaurant is located right on the lake Sealpsee. So if you are looking to start your adventure with the lake, we would definitely suggest staying here the night before. It is just a half hour walk from the town of Wasserauen. We stopped here to use the bathroom and have a drink when we finished our full hike, before heading back to the main parking lot in town.


If you would like to make a booking or have any questions, you can call them at +41 71 799 11 40.


Forelle

This is another hotel that is located at Sealpsee, but rather than being right on the lake, it is just behind Berggasthaus Seealpsee.


We weren't able to get any information for prices on Berggasthaus Seealpsee, but would imagine that this would be a slightly more affordable option for accommodation next to the lake. Rooms range arrange 200 CHF/night, and you can book them on their website.


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Price & Timetable for Visiting Schafler Ridge

The trails for visiting Schafler Ridge, Seealpsee, and everything else in the area are all open 24/7! If you just plan on hiking, then you will only have to worry about your train ticket to Wasserauen, or the parking at Wasserauen.


Parking Prices:

First half hour: free

1/2 - 3 hours: 3 CHF

24 hours: 5 CHF


If you'd like to take the cable car, then that will be another expense to add to your adventure. The cable car is open from 7:30 am to 7 pm daily, and tickets can be purchased online in advance, or on the spot.


Cable Car Prices:

One-way ticket: 34 CHF

Round-trip ticket: 22 CHF

Children (6-15) one way ticket: 9 CHF

Children (6-15) round-trip ticket: 14 CHF

Swiss Pass/GA one way ticket: 11 CHF

Swiss Pass/GA round trip ticket: 17 CHF

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Safety at Schafler Ridge

While some pictures make Schafler Ridge look extremely dangerous, there really is nothing to worry about. It may be a bit scary if you have vertigo, but as long as you follow the path then you will be okay. There are also areas where you can hold on to the railing, which we definitely suggest taking advantage of.


There are some areas of the ridge where people climb up to get pictures. These are not part of the trail itself, and while they are very cool (we also climbed up parts), they can be extremely dangerous. Remember, nature can be unpredictable, so stick to areas that look solid, and that other people have left their footprints before.

drone shot at Schafler Ridge
how to get to Schafler Ridge, the best hike in Switzerland

Be careful where you walk, as nature can be unpredictable.


When we were going to hike Schafler Ridge we showed up in regular sneakers. The woman at the cable car told us it was going to be extremely dangerous for us to do any of the trails. The only trail that was a bit steep was the one going from Schafler Ridge down to the lake. As long as you watch your step though, you'll have nothing to worry about.


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Other Things to Keep in Mind When Visiting Schafler Ridge

Now that you know how to get to Schafler Ridge, let's cover a few other details!


Weather Conditions at Schafler Ridge

Switzerland is pretty crazy. One minute it could be bright and sunny, the next it could be pouring, and no matter what the weather app says, it can change at any given moment. Because of this, Swiss people actually use their own app called Meteo Swiss. It's so intricate that you can move the map to any given point and it will show you where storms move at exactly which times. We definitely suggest downloading it, as it can help you plan when exactly to go.


That being said, it's always good to be prepared for anything! We visited in the summer, and there were parts of the hike when we were sweating, and other parts where the wind picked up heavily and it was raining and cold. 

 

The Best Time to Hike Schafler Ridge

Our motto is- the earlier the better! If you want to take the cable car up, then we would suggest taking the first one at 7:30. This will ensure that there won't be too many people at the top. If you would like to experience sunrise at Schafler Ridge, then you'll need to hike the entire way, and should give yourself 2 hours to get there in time.


Another great option is to aim to get up to Schafler Ridge for golden hour, which will give you great lighting, but you won't have to wake up super early. Chances are there still won't be a ton of people, as most people aim to be down well before it starts to get dark.


As far as the time of year goes, the absolute best time to do this hike is in summer, when all the snow is melted.


How to Prepare for Hiking Schafler Ridge

Here are some of the things that you should bring while hiking to Shafler Ridge and around the area:

  • A good pair of sneakers or hiking shoes
  • Light jacket for the top 
  • Poncho in case it rains
  • Tripod to take the pictures if you are alone
  • Sunscreen (if you are hiking during the day)
  • Reusable Water Bottle (we use this water bottle from Cafago because it is insulated)
  • Drone (We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light with incredible image quality)
  • Insta 360 X3 with the extra long selfie stick for drone-looking shots
  • Sandwich or snacks
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Tips for Hiking to Schafler Ridge

  • Visit early in the morning for the best lighting and lowest amount of people.
  • Fill up your water bottle for free at the mountain huts.
  • Use the bathroom in the parking lot before the hike.
  • Download the ParkEasy App to easily add time to your parking.
  • Download the Meteo Swiss App for more exact weather predictions.
  • Be prepared for all types of weather.
  • Check the website beforehand for up-to-date hours for the cable car, restaurant, and activities.
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Here are some useful tools that you can use for planning your upcoming trip!

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Get Your Guide is a site that gathers tours from local tour operators for unique experiences around the world.

Radical Storage is a company that connects you to the closest luggage storage spots so that you can explore on your layovers, or for hotels that won't hold your belongings.


So are you ready for one of the most incredible hikes in Switzerland? We definitely suggest staying in the area for a few days, and enjoying all that it has to offer.


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