Ebenalp Wildkirchli hike

Ebenalp is home to the iconic mountain hut built into the side of the cliff, shown above. From the top of the cable car, it’s a short walk through a cave, past by an old hermit’s hut and “wild” church, until you reach the guest house and restaurant. The view is fantastic, with the impressive Säntis peak visible in the distance. It’s a nice option for visitors that don’t want to hike very far, but want to have a Swiss alp experience. If you want to hike longer, consider hiking down to the beautiful Seealp lake below the cliffs (more info here). 

Location:   Eastern Switzerland
Address: Schwendetalstrasse 82, 9057 Wasserauen, SG-CH
Car: 1hr30 from Zurich
Train: 2hr10 from Zurich
Trail: 4 km one way, about 2 hr each way
Condition: narrow dirt trail, no strollers
Skill: easy
Open: May to October
Prices 2017: return trip: Adult CHF 31, Child CHF 12, under 6 free
SBB Half-fare and Junior cards accepted.
Services: restaurant
More info:  www.ebenalp.ch

Overview

To reach the cliff restaurant, ride to the top of the Ebenalp cable car and follow signs to Wildkirchli and Gasthaus Aescher, about 600m. On the way, you’ll pass by the hermit’s cave and the wild church. After about 10 minutes, you’ll reach the cliff restaurant, that has patio seating with a view.

From here, you can simply walk back the way you came. You can also hike past the restaurant and back up on a switchback trail (2km loop shown below), a little tricky with very little kids. You could also hike down to the beautiful Seealpsee, described in this post.

The path is dirt and rock, not difficult but the footing can be tricky for little children and those with mobility issues. Inside the cave, the path can be wet and slippery. There is a handrail for support. Not suitable for strollers, but it’s short enough to have little ones walk or be carried.

Getting There

By car: Drive to Wasserauen and park near the base station of the Ebenalp cable car. There are a couple large parking lots, but on sunny weekends, it can fill up quickly.

By transit: Take a train to Wasserauen. The train station is a short walk from the cable car station.

Hike to Wildkirchli

Arrival in Wasserauen is one of the prettiest sights you’ll see, especially in May with the yellow flowers.

As you ride up the cable car, you will see the caves and restaurant built on the side of the cliff. The cable car takes you above these caves and you will walk down to them.

Here is the beginning of the trail. Don’t get fooled by the gravel path. It looks ok for strollers now but it gets lumpy in pretty soon. The trail is a little steep in parts, but not too difficult.

The sweeping views of Appenzellerland are fantastic.

After a couple minutes, the trail dips into a cave, where the trail can get a little slippery – use those hand rails! The picture below was in late June.

The picture below was in mid May, when there was still a bit of snow and the grass was still dead.

Inside the cave is a hermit’s hut and a small church.

The walkway is built into the side of the cliff. The railway is pretty safe, but I’d keep little kids close.

Here’s Gasthaus Aescher, which is a hotel and restaurant.

A meal with a view. This restaurant can get really crowded on sunny weekends.

View directly across from the restaurant.

Here’s the view east and west from where we sat at the restaurant.

Hiking back to the cable car

With kids or non-hikers, I recommend returning back the way you came. You can also hike back to the cable car on a more difficult switchback trail. This trail also starts past the restaurant, but heads up the mountain as shown below.

If you want to hike down to the Seealpsee, a pretty lake with stunning views, the trail heads down just past the restaurant. See Ebenalp-Seealpsee Hike for details.

The trail skirts along the bottom of the rock cliff as shown here.

Then you head up the cliff in this area shown below.

The switchbacks look like this.

I like the trail, but I overestimated the desire to hike of my parents. My first time there, I convinced my parents to hike back up to the cable car on the more difficult switchback trail. This was a big mistake. First, the trail was steep, up narrow, rocky switchbacks with about a million steps, as shown above. My poor step-mom had expected a relaxing day out not an endurance challenge. Second, the threatening clouds rain suddenly turned to rain about 10 mins into the hike. So we were cold and wet and miserable. Lesson learned.

Ebenalp doesn’t have attractions especially for kids on this hike, except the cows. But I like this outing with kids because you can have a good meal.with an amazing view without much work.

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One comment

  1. Beautiful!

    Tanya, I just realized that now that we have a lot of content, some posts are being buried in the archives. Is there any (easy) way we can reference them permanently on the blog?

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