It’s one of the most impressive geological formations that protrudes as part of a fault in the Alpsteins.
Whilst there are many routes which lead to Saxer Lücke, the route that I’m going to cover in depth in this guide is the Staubern, Saxer Lücke and Fälensee circular hike.
This is one of the best routes, since it also includes another popular location – Fälensee – one of the greatest alpine lakes in Appenzell.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know before you head out on this hike.
I’ll cover all of the key details about the route and let you know how to get there and what to expect on the day.
You’ll also find a route map, some information about the facilities and some suggestions on where to stay.
I’ve put an FAQ at the end of the guide, however, if you have any questions then pop them in the comments box.
Saxer Lücke hike details
Distance | The distance of this hike is 8.2 kilometres. It’s a moderate distance, but nothing crazy.
Elevation | The total elevation of this hike is 527 meters. This may sound pretty decent over 8.2 kilometres, however, there is barely any elevation until the 7-kilometre mark.
This kind of elevation over 1.2 kilometres is now all of a sudden quite a lot, and I’ll get onto that in just a second.
Duration | If you’re keen to push on, then this hike should take no longer than 2 hours.
However, if, like me, you like to spend a lot of time taking pictures and perhaps stopping for a bite to eat, then you’ll want to budget at least 3 hours.
Difficulty | 90% of this was is easy.
However, going back to what I mentioned just now about the elevation over the last 1.2 kilometres – this is where it gets tough – extremely tough.
After what is mostly a downhill 7-kilometre walk, the last push is a struggle.
To give you an idea, the signpost states that it takes most walkers 50 minutes to complete this 1.2-kilometer incline (although it took us 30 minutes).
On a flat trail, you should be able to walk at least 4 kilometres in that time.
Yet, with lots of breaks, this is more than manageable for even a novice hiker.
How to get to Saxer Lücke
The start of this hike is in Staubern, which is at the top of a mountain with no access via car, bus or train.
You have two options to get to Staubern.
Option 1 is to take the cable car from Frümsen to Staubern, just like I did.
Option 2 is to walk from Frümsen to Staubern, however, you’ll need to add an additional 5.8 kilometres, 1,197 meters of elevation and an extra 3 hours each way if you go for this – ouch.
Although the cable cars in Switzerland aren’t cheap, this one is well worth it in my opinion.
Plus, there are some great savings to be had if you purchase one of the many travel cards in advance.
Below are some options which are available to you.
- Swiss All-in-one Travel Pass
If you’re travelling around Switzerland between 3 and 15 days and you’re expecting to get around by public transport and tick off as many attractions as possible, then this ticket will save you some serious money.
Not only will you get access to public transport, but you’ll also benefit from multiple scenic trains such as Glacier Express.
A ticket for this alone is almost half the cost of the Swiss All-in-One Travel Pass.
In addition, you’ll be able to access over 500 museums and enjoy many other mountain excursions as part of this ticket, or at 50% off.
Check prices: Switzerland: Swiss All-in-One Travel Pass
- Swiss Half Fare Pass
The Swiss Half Fare Pass is valid for 1 month and will give you a 50% discount on all public transport in Switzerland.
In the long run, this will save you a tonne of money if you’re planning to explore Switzerland extensively.
Check what’s included: map of inclusions
Check prices: Swiss Half Fare Pass
If you decide to purchase this cable car ticket without one of the above cards, this will cost 36 Swiss Francs for adults and 18 Swiss Francs for children over 5 for a return trip.
You’ll also need to check out the journey times ahead of your trip, as this one doesn’t run as frequently as some of the others and surprisingly, it was self-service on the day I took the journey.
What to expect on the day of your hike to Saxer Lücke
From Staubern, the route begins with a short and sharp incline.
It’s an intense start but lasts no longer than a few minutes before finding a flat pathway.
Before long, the route begins to find a short downhill zig-zag.
Here you’ll need to navigate your way down some stairs, before continuing along the mostly flat, trail.
The views over the valley from here are spectacular, and you’ll be able to see Fälensee in the distance.
As you continue along the trail, you’ll slowly but surely begin to make your way to Saxer Lücke. At around the 3-kilometre mark, the impressive rock formation will begin to reveal itself.
You’ll arrive at a section that provides clear views of the Swiss countryside on your left, the Alpstein mountain range on your right, and Saxer Lücke directly ahead in the distance.
It’s a stunning view that, in all honesty, I wasn’t expecting from this hike.
After hiking Schäfler ridge beforehand, I thought this one would have a job to keep up.
The trail continues to lead closer to the rugged rock formation, before leading to a number of switchbacks.
Just before these switchbacks is where you’ll find one of the best viewpoints of Saxer Lücke.
It’s not technically on the trail and it’s a bit of a scramble up the mountainside, but it’s worth it for the views.
If you choose to head up to the viewpoint, you’ll need to clamber back down the way you came, before continuing down the switchbacks below.
Whilst this may look steep, it’s nowhere near as bad as it looks.
You’ll descend fairly quickly, before arriving at your next set of switchbacks which are much longer.
These lead to Fälensee.
You’ll likely find plenty of cows blocking the path here, but once you’ve navigated around these, it’s an easy hike towards Fälensee.
At the alpine lake, you’ll find a mountain hut where you can also stop for some lunch and use their facilities.
It wasn’t busy on the day I did this hike, however, if it is, you can also head up the trail a little further to find Hundsteinhütte SAC – another mountain hut with a restaurant and facilities.
Once you’ve finished up at Fälensee, the route for the next couple of kilometres is flat.
You’ll want to make the most of this since the next section of the hike is the most challenging.
At around kilometre 7, you’ll arrive at a signpost which points towards a steep accent back to the Stuabern cable car.
It begins with a long zig-zag-like path that, as you gain elevation, switches back on itself much more frequently.
You’ll reach a point where you’ll climb some stairs, and at this point the path begins to lengthen, making it a flatter accent.
However, this doesn’t last long before the intensity increases again.
It’s like this for most of the remaining hike, aside from the last section which is a long, moderate incline which leads back to the cable car.
Hiking route map
Once you’ve made it to Staubern, the route is well signposted providing you remember that you’re heading to Saxer Lücke, Fälensee and then back to Staubern.
However, if you’d prefer to follow a map then I’ve created one on Alltrails.
Alltrails is my go-to platform when creating hiking routes since it allows users to download the map ahead of time for offline use.
This is particularly helpful as you’ll not always have a signal when hiking in remote areas such as the Alpstein mountains in Appenzell.
Route map: Staubern, Saxer Lücke and Fälensee Circular
Facilities along the trail
There are two points on this hike where you’ll find facilities, and those are Staubern and Fälensee.
- Staubern: kilometre 0 if you’re taking the cable car, kilometre 5.8 if you’re walking from Frümsen
Here you’ll find a mountain hut which offers 10-bed dorms all the way to rooms with four-poster beds.
You’ll also be able to grab some drinks and something light to eat in the outdoor decking area.
However, it’s worth noting that they advise you not to fill your water bottles up using the tap and instead hand over 2 Swiss francs for them to fill up your water bottle.
It’s questionable whether this is just a very frustrating money-making scheme, but still better to be safe than sorry.
There are also toilets at this site.
Check it out: Staubern Berggasthaus
- Fälensee: kilometer 4.2
Fälensee is far quieter than Seealpsee which is another popular alpine lake in the Appenzell, however, you’ll still find some facilities here.
The one that sits directly on the trail is Berggasthaus Bollenwees.
This is a mountain hut as well as a restaurant with the usual amenities such as toilets.
Check it out: Berggasthaus Bollenwees
If this one is busy, then you’ll also find Hundsteinhütte SAC near to Fälensee, although this will be a short diversion off of the trail.
Check it out: Hundsteinhütte SAC
The last mountain hut close to Fälensee is Clubheim Fälensee.
This is a small place with just a few rooms and will also require a slight diversion from the trail.
Check it out: Clubheim Fälensee
Saxer Lücke weather and the best time to hike
The best time to hike to Saxer Lücke is between May and September.
This is when it’s very safe to hike in the Alpstein mountains in Appenzell and it will also ensure you’re able to take the cable car up to Staubern.
The cable car also runs in April, October, November and December, however only when the weather is good enough.
Regardless of what time of year you’re heading to Switzerland, it’s always worth checking the weather apps and webcams ahead of your hike.
I particularly love using the Accuweather app, as it seems to be the most accurate and also shows a live radar of what’s going on above your head for the next few hours.
What to wear for hiking in the Alpstein Mountains
If you’re heading to the Alpstein mountains during the recommended period (May to September) then you’ll want to wear summer hiking gear.
I headed here in July and it was 33 degrees. However, in May and September, it will almost certainly be a bit cooler – perhaps in the early or mid-20s.
If you follow the same route as me, then you’ll be taking the cable car up to Staubern.
It’s not noticeably cooler up here, despite the elevation.
I’d still recommend checking the weather apps and webcams ahead of your hike, as Switzerland is notorious for its temperamental weather.
It’s not uncommon to be basking in the glorious sunshine one minute before having to find cover for a passing storm the next.
Where to stay near Saxer Lücke in Switzerland
If you’re heading to the Appenzell region for more than a day then the two areas that people typically stay in are St Gallen and Appenzell town.
St Gallen is a city that a lot of people seem to love, however when I visited I struggled to see what the fuss was about.
It was pretty quiet, most things aside from fast food restaurants were closed, and it wasn’t the pretty city I was expecting.
Perhaps I was just in the wrong area at the wrong time, but I wouldn’t rush back.
However, one thing it did have was a huge train station and after a quick bit of research, it looks like you can get from Zurich to St Gallen in under an hour.
From St Gallen to Frümsen it’s another hour and a half on the train, so you could do this hike as a day trip from Zurich if you wanted to.
If you’re just using St Gallen as a hub to explore the surrounding areas, then it will definitely be ok for a few nights, it just wasn’t my vibe.
The best places to stay in St Gallen are:
The obvious place to stay if you’re thinking of exploring the Appenzell region is Appenzell town.
Although it’s a small town, it’s very beautiful and is filled with cute restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries.
There are quite a few hotels in the town and there is also a train station, so it’s really the ideal place for those exploring without a car
The best places to stay in Appenzell are:
- Is this hike child friendly?
There are very few sections on this walk which are dangerous, and the trail from Staubern to Saxer Lücke is relatively flat.
The bit that will be a challenge – not just for children – is the ascent over the last kilometre.
If your child/children are used to hiking some big ascents, then this shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s perhaps one to avoid if not.
If the final ascent sounds like a problem, then you could always do this hike as an out-and-back route from Staubern to Saxer Lücke.
- Can you take a stroller on this hike?
No. This trail is narrow at times, with some metal stairs.
- Is this hike dog friendly?
Yes, this trail is fine for dogs and they are able to travel on the cable car for 10 Swiss Francs.
- Can you fly drones?
Yes, flying drones is not a problem.
- Is this a good hike to do solo?
Yes, you’ll see plenty of people along this trail – particularly as you reach Saxer Lücke and Fälensee.
Explore Switzerland further
If you love the sound of this hike to Saxer Lücke then you’ll almost certainly love some of the other guides which I’ve put together following a month-long trip in Switzerland.
If you’re heading down to the Jungfrau region, you’ll find dozens of cute towns and villages, including Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, and Iseltwald – all of which have great hikes surrounding them.
All of my Switzerland guides can be found here: Switzerland.
Stay Wild Travels.
Disclosure: just a heads up that some of the links within this blog are affiliated which means that we may receive a small commission. We only recommend things that we truly believe in. If you use any of these links, it really helps support our blog, so thank you!