Hiking the Alpine Panorama Trail – Stage 3 Appenzell to Schwägalp

Stage 3 of the Alpine Panorama Trail (Route 3) is a 16 km trail with 1150 m ascent and 580 m descent that goes from Appenzell to Schwägalp. The first 10 kilometers is a steady climb up to the summit of the Kronberg ridge with gorgeous views all-around. The last 6 km, the descent from Kronberg to Schwägalp, was not only much easier but it also had some of the best views of the hike. And, if you want to skip the climb and only to do the last 6 kilometers, there is a cable car to the Kroneberg (german) summit. I really enjoyed this hike and recommend it.

Detail Summary
Where:Appenzell to Schwägalp
Cantons Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden, Switzerland
Train/Bus:Zürich HB -> Appenzell – 1 hrs 51 min
Schwägalp, Säntis-Schwebebahn -> Zürich HB – 2 hrs 5 min
What:Alpine Panorama Trail – Stage 3 Appenzell to Schwägalp
Yellow trail markers – Alpine Panorama Trail Route 3
Skill:Medium – About 5.5 hrs
Length 16 km, Ascent 1150 m, Descent 580 m

Additional Info

Photo Stories for Other Stages
Stage 1 – Rorschach to Trogen
Stage 2 – Trogen to Appenzell
Stage 3 – Appenzell to Schwägalp
Stage 4 – Schwägalp to Stein, SG
Stage 5 – Stein, SG to Amden

Getting There

The Alpine Panorama Trail is best done with public transportation as each stage starts and ends at different points. This stage starts at the Appenzell train station. Appenzell is a cute touristy town, and worth a look around. Since we did that at the end of the last stage, we didn’t do it this time.

Instead, we simply found our trail sign and were on our way.

The Trail

After passing through some residential (and not touristy areas) of Appenzell, the trail leaves the town and begins the steady climb up to the Kronberg summit. We had great weather at the beginning of our hike and it was really wonderful walking though the rolling green fields and forests filled with fall colors.

As we continued to climb higher, we could see the snow line above and the clouds beginning to roll in.

When we reached the snow, I was a little worried the trail would become too difficult. But, this is a yellow path still and not overly steep, so we felt safe continuing. Much of the path is marked as a winter trail. Loved the views back to the valley and of Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) in the distance.

At the top of the ridge, we had stunning views of the Alpstein Ridge and Säntis.

We stopped for a picnic lunch on a bench protected from the wind by some trees, but still with a nice view (picture one below). It was cold, so we ate quickly and were on our way. Although we still had a tiny bit of blue sky, we knew a storm was coming and we hoped to finish the hike before it hit.

We had some really wonderful views as we hiked up the ridge towards the Kronberg summit. The contrast of the green valley and the snowy mountains was very striking!

When we reached the summit, we paused to take it all in. I know panorama shots get distorted, but I included one here anyway to give an idea of just how amazing (and panoramic!) the view here really is. There is a cable car to the Kroneberg (german) summit, so you can get these views without the steep hike up. There is a restaurant (german) here as well, although we did not stop at it and can’t give a review.

From the summit, we headed down into the valley. My shoes weren’t as waterproof as they needed to be, but hiking through the snow here was not too bad. I would love to do this section of the path in other seasons. The view was outstanding!

As it began to rain, we hurried along. It was a light drizzle, but we knew it would get worse before the end.

I still took pictures as we approached the end of the hike where the Säntis cable car valley station was. Despite the rain, this was a really beautiful section of the hike.

Getting Back

It was pouring by the time we could see the valley station and we didn’t want to miss the bus, so we practically ran the last bit. We made it to the bus station on time where I was surprised to see that our bus was a double-decker bus. I didn’t know the Post Bus had any.

Stage 3 was a great hike and maybe I will go back and do the short section from Kronberg Summit to Schwägalp again as I would love to see it in better weather. Speaking of better weather, not sure when we will get to the next stage. Maybe not til the spring?

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