Amden is a quiet alpine village perched high in the mountains overlooking over the beautiful Walensee lake. This year we hiked Amden Höhenweg, a popular high mountain trail above the town, skirting underneath the peaks. Some of the trail follows dirt and paved access roads for alpine ranchers, while some wanders across grassy fields or dips through dense forest on narrow rocky footpaths.
I don’t love walking on roads, but it was so lovely, full of wildflowers, sprawling meadows, and dramatic peaks in the background that I was willing to forgive this fault. There are multiple restaurants and picnic areas with fire pits along the way.
|Address:||Mattstock lift: Obere Dorfstrasse 8873 Amden SG-CH
GPS: 47°08’57.9″N 9°08’37.0″E
|Car:||50 mins from Zurich|
|Train:||1hr15 from Zurich HB to Amden, Post
Adult return with half-fare CHF 27.80
|Trail:||8.4 km one way, about 3 hours walking time|
|Condition:||varied: dirt and paved roads and narrow alpine paths|
|Skill:||moderate, 265m climb, 291m descent
highest elevation 1500m
|Open:||end of May through October|
|Prices:||single ride on chair lift: Adult CHF 9 up or 7 down, children ride free
no SBB Half-fare discount on chair lift
parking and bus fare additional
|Services:||restaurant, playground, picnic area with fire|
|More info:||www.amden.ch – Amden Höhenweg|
This trail starts at the top of the Amden-Mattstock chair lift, hikes up the mountain on a paved access road for about 2 km. Then it joins a dirt road through a beautiful moor for another 2 km. Then on a narrow footpath around the mountain and through a forest for another 2 km. Then again on a paved road for a few hundred meters. Then through some cow fields and a forest until the trail reaches Arvenbuel, where you’ll follow the road through the neighborhood until you reach the bus stop.
You can hike this trail either direction. There is bus service between the two sides, running about hourly but check the schedule.
As marked on the above map, there are multiple restaurants and picnic areas with fire pits. The cafe near Arbenbüel has a nice playground. It’s technically a clubhouse, but they looked as if they were serving drinks and snacks to hikers.
Amden offers lots of other family-friendly activities as outlined on their website.
By public transport: Take a train to Ziegelbrücke, then bus 650 to Amden, Post. The Mattstock lift is a short walk from bus stop. The bus continues to Arvenbüel, Arven if you want to start hike from that direction. Remember to check the bus schedule before hiking, as the bus runs infrequently.
By car: To reach Amden by car, drive to Weesen (on the west side of the Walensee lake), then follow the road up the mountain to Amden. We parked in the metered lot directly across from the Amden, Post bus stop. From there, it’s a short walk to the Mattstock lift or you can catch the bus to Arvenbüel, Arven and start the hike there.
Since this is a one way hike, you’ll need to use the bus to return to your starting point. We chose to park in Amden, take the bus to Arvenbüel, Arven, do the hike to Mattstock, ride the chair lift down to Amden where our car was parked. Of course, you could do this the other direction. Since the bus only runs once an hour, it makes sense to ride the bus at the beginning so you don’t accidentally miss it by a few minutes because the kids are hiking too slow.
In 2017, the parking cost about CHF 4.80 for 6 hours, bring coins. The bus from Amden to Arvenbüel, Arven cost about CHF 5.80 for 2 adults with half-fare (child rode free with Junior card). The below picture is taken from the Amden, Post bus stop looking arross to the parking.
Starting in Arvenbüel
You can hike in either direction but we started in Arvenbüel, which is about the same elevation as the top of the Mattstock chair lift. So you have about the same elevation gain regardless of which direction you hike.
In general, you will follow the green Ammler Höhenweg trail signs, as shown below. You can also follow signs to Hinter Höhi, which is in the middle of the trail.
We started at Arvenbüel, hiking from the Arvenbüel, Arven bus stop (end of the line) up this road through the neighborhood.
The road parallels the ski slope on the east. We did this hike in mid-September, so still green.
In early November, the trails are often still free of snow and very pretty with the fall colors.
At the end of the road, the trail continues into the forest. Follow the yellow diamonds.
Continue straight through the forest, following signs to Altschen.
After the forest, you continue on through a grassy field.
Looking back to the forest.
Joining a dirt road to Altchen.
The clubhouse at Altchen with playground: trampoline, swings, see-saw.
Looking back down the road before turning off onto the narrow trail.
Now on a footpath wrapping around the mountain.
Heading into the forest. Walking sticks are helpful here.
Nice big views across the valley.
A fire pit at about the halfway point. No stocked wood but you can gather in the forest.
The colors got really orange on this side of the mountain.
My son wouldn’t post but instead pretending to be an old man hobbling along. Sigh.
This restaurant was hopping the day we were there, with traditional music and lots of chatting customers.
Still on the narrow path as you continue around the mountain.
Looking over the other side of the mountain. I hoped we would get a more dramatic view down into the valley, but the distance peaks were pretty too. You can hike over this pass and reach Toggenburg.
Entering the moor on a dirt road.
One of the informal fire pits. You’ll have to scavenge for wood in the forest.
The moor in the middle of the trail. There are educational signboards in German explaining the special features of the moor, like the ability of the plant cells to expand to 3x their normal size to hold lots of water in anticipation of dry spells.
We stopped at this Schweizer Familie fire pit at about the 6km mark near Hinter Höhi. This was the only fire pit that had wood stocked.
The big peaks at Hinter Höhi.
Joining the paved road that leads to Mattenstock.
View of the town of Amden from near Mattstock.
At this juncture, follow signs to Niederschlagwald, which has a little picture of a chair lift. This will take you to the Amden-Mattstock chair lift, which you can ride down to Amden. You can also walk down to Amden if you prefer.
Once on the the paved road, the trail joins the themed activity trail for children, Munggeweg, which has 12 interactive stations along the 3.5 km loop accessed from the Mattenstock chair lift. We saw three stations include this race course on logs and guessing boxes, where you feel a shell or antlers and try to guess which picture it matches. We’ll have to come back and do this whole trail.
On the chair, riding down to Amden.
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