Photo: Looking over the Churfirsten and Alps from Säntis.
A long climb through the Alpstein up to the panoramic viewpoint at Säntis. The region isn’t at its most beautiful in November (it is much more attractive in the summer), but it was very quiet on the path and the views were clear in the cold air.
Route: Wasserauen – Seealpsee – Meglisalp – Säntis.
Length: 11km, +1670m, – 60m.
For more hikes in Switzerland see my list of hikes.
Season: Late spring to Autumn.
Arrival/Departure: Train to Wasseraun / Cable car from Säntis then Postbus from ‘Schwägalp (Säntis-Schwebebahn)’ to the train line at Urnäsch.
Supplies: Restaurants at Seealpsee, Meglisalp, Säntis.
Alternate routes/shortcuts: There are a few other possible day hike routes starting in Wasserauen and passing through Meglisalp which I have yet to do. These are longer but more varied as they cover different valleys too and are probably stunning. You could go south-east over the Widderalpsattel and loop back to get the Postbus by the cable car station at Brülisau (17km, +/- 1200m), or south-west over the Rotsteinpass to Unterwasser (18km, +/-1350m).
Exposure/Hazards: The climb from Seealpsee is a bit steep and narrow, otherwise nothing of concern.
Early November isn’t the standard time of year to be scaling a 2500m peak. But it had been a warm and dry autumn with only a tiny amount of snow. I had been prepared to turn around if need be, but in the end there was only a very small amount of snow near the peak.
Through a mix of off-season, an early start, and only being 10 minutes down the line in Appenzell I was essentially alone most of the time. Up until Säntis itself that is, there it seemed that a good chunk of the population of north-eastern Switzerland and quite a few Germans and Austrians had come to take the cable car up for the clear views.
Notes along the route
This was done at the end of a weekend in Appenzellerland. Having explored Appenzell itself (which takes all of 5 minutes) and wandered through the countryside on Stage 2 of the Alpine Panorama Trail (also highly recommended), the obvious conclusion was to check climb up to Säntis, enjoy the views, then head home. I was keen to tick off Seealpsee, and after some research Meglisalp popped up on my Radar too. So this was a good way to link them all togther.
Started off taking the train at the end of the line in Wasserauen and up straight up the (car free) road to Seealpsee. If you glance at a map it looks like they are right next to each other. They are actually 2.5km apart, with 260m of height difference. Something which I hadn’t expected and that I suspect has been a nasty surprise to more than a few other people (not least when 500m of the walk is at a fairly constant 20% gradient).
Seealpsee with the Alpstein in the background is a striking sight at any time, but early morning November when everything is a bit dead and still in the shade is not the best time to see it (I much preferred it in summer).
There isn’t much to Meglisalp; a few farm buildings, the guest house, and a church. The Gasthaus Meglisalp provides food and rooms from June to October so was long closed. I visited another time in summer and only had a drink there, but the food did look good. Unsurprisingly on this hike Meglisalp itself was boarded up for the winter (but it was an interesting experience to see it desolate and empty).
From Meglisalp it is a fairly steady climb up to Säntis. Nice stable ground and nothing steep or exposed, it just keeps going for 1000m of climb.
The view closes in as you get higher up the valley, then explodes when you reach the peak at Säntis and have a sweeping view in every direction. This was a cool day with clear skies so the views were fantastic. I hardly saw anyone going up, but the peak itself was busy and the carparking around the cable car station was overflowing with the demand.
I took the cable car down from Säntis, and then Postbus (stop ‘Schwägalp (Säntis-Schwebebahn)’) to Urnäsch and then a series of trains back home.