Photos by appensell.ch
From verdant pastures dotted with grazing cattle to the gingerbread-style houses framed by majestic vistas of the Alps in the background, Appenzell is Switzerland in a nutshell. Geographically diverse, with alpine landscape to the south and rolling green hills in the north, the region lends itself well to hiking tours and climbing trips of varying difficulty. Its towns beckon with their quaint buildings and unique traditions such as their annual cattle drive.
Known as the öberefahre, it celebrates the return of the alpine dairy herdsmen from their summer grazing sojourn up in the Alps with a festive procession into town. Held during the months of August/September, the procession sees villagers decked out in traditional festive garb, with yodeling accompanying the harmonious ringing of the cow bells.
Visit www.appenzell.info for more.
Complementing the Alpstein region’s countless hiking trails are 28 mountain inns where you can refresh and recharge.
Here are some hiking gems:
Wasserauen to Ebenalp Hike
(7.4km, 3 – 4 hours)
While a cableway connects the two locations, going on foot is by far the more rewarding option. The scenic trek first takes you to the picturesque Seealp Lake – its serene surface often a perfect mirror of the surroundings – before continuing on to the highlight of the trip: the Äscher restaurant. The restaurant resides in a unique location, having been built at the foot of a vertical rock face towering some 100m above. The trek concludes at Ebenalp, where you can take a cable car back down to the valley.
The Swiss Flower Route
Schwägalp to Kronberg (6km, 2 – 3 hours)
This trek’s best done in the early summer when the flowers are in full bloom. The walk starts from the 1,350m-high Schwägalp, located at the foot of the Alpstein massif’s tallest peak (Mt. Säntis), and leads up to the Chammhaldenhütte, where you’ll be greeted by the sight of Appenzell hill country, stretching as far as Lake Constance. The landscape morphs into a series of charming moors and forest before your arrival at Dorwees, with the end point located atop the Kronberg’s summit, a short climb away.
FOOD & DRINK
Another reason to visit Appenzell lies in its gastronomic offerings, which
range from spicy cheese to an assortment of cured meats and even gingerbread.
Called “Biberli”, this baked treat is given a Swiss twist with the addition
of marzipan that is sandwiched between two layers of gingerbread.
This cheese may only be made within the confines of Appenzell, as well as
parts of neighbouring St. Gallen and Thurgau. Over the course of 3 months, the cheese is regularly rubbed with a herbal composition to give it its distinctive spicy taste. Only wheels that meet the mark are given a stamp as a guarantee of its authenticity.
Brewed by the last remaining brewery in the canton (Brauerei Locher AG),
Appenzeller Bier is famous for using pure local spring water – which flows
straight down from the Alps – in the brewing process, with the Quöllfrisch and Vollmond brands being particularly popular.