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

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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).

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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