If you’re visiting Appenzell and love the outdoors, then a Seealpsee hike is one thing that should be near the top of your list.
It’s one of the best alpine lakes in the area – that by comparison to others – is quite easy to get to.
Whilst there are multiple hikes which lead to Seealpsee, in this guide I’ll cover one of the best and most accessible routes in depth.
I’ll also offer some alternative routes as since being in the area, I’ve visited this lake on more than a few occasions via different trails.
You’ll find all the key details about this hike, the logistics, the best time to visit and much more.
Seealpsee hike details
The total distance of this hike is 7.6 kilometres.
The total elevation of this hike is 427 meters. This is mostly covered within the first few kilometres which makes this a pretty steep start.
Typically, this walk takes between 2 and 3 hours to complete.
The steep incline initially makes it a slow start, to begin with and you’ll more than likely want to factor in some additional time at the lake.
When I did this hike, it took me just under 3 hours, however, I did this as a relaxed evening hike and stopped to take quite a few photos.
The only real challenging section of this walk is at the start.
It’s a steep incline through the forest, however, there is no way to get around this.
Even if you were to take the service road to Seealpsee, you’d still be doing a fair bit of climbing – but don’t let this put you off.
You’ll see plenty of children on this hike, so with a few breathers here and there it’s more than doable for even the novice hiker.
You’ll also need to be careful in the heat – see these hot weather hiking tips.
How to get to Seealpsee
In order to get to Seealpsee, you’ll need to head to Wasserauen as this is where the hike begins.
Most people tend to stay in Appenzell town when they’re heading to the Appenzell district, so I’ll base the below information on that.
If you’re not staying in Appenzell, then the best way to figure out your route is with Rome2Rio.
They’ll show you a variety of different ways to get from A to B alongside all of the important information like timings and cost.
Getting to Wasserauen by public transport
You can head to Wasserauen by train or by bus from Appenzell and they’ll both take around 10 minutes.
If you choose to head there by bus, then you’ll need to hop on the B23 which leaves once every hour and it will cost around 3 Swiss francs each way.
If you opt for the train, then you’ll need to catch the Appenzeller Bahan which leaves twice every hour and it will cost around 6 Swiss francs each way.
How to save money on public transport on your trip to Seealpasee
If you have one of the many travel cards which are offered in Switzerland, you can save a lot of money when travelling around the country.
These cards usually offer a discount on many popular excursions and attractions as well as transport, so if you’re planning to do some travelling in Switzerland then these are well worth the money.
There are a few different options available depending on your requirements.
These can be found below:
- 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 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
Getting to Wasserauen by car
If you’ve got a car then driving from Appenzell to Wauserauen will take just under 10 minutes.
There is a very small car park right outside the cable car entrance, as well as a larger one outside the train station.
During peak times, these will be full by 10 AM.
However, there is also a large field just down the road which has plenty of parking available for 5 Swiss francs for the day if you get stuck.
If you manage to get a spot in the official car parks, then you can pay by app or cash, however, if you end up landing in the field then you’ll need to have some cash.
What to expect on the day of your hike
The route begins at the base of the Alpstein mountains in Wasserauen.
The route wastes no time getting into an incline and you’ll head up a steady path to your left.
During the cooler seasons, you’ll see a big waterfall cascading down the mountain.
As you head deep into the forest, the route get’s steeper and steeper.
You’ll soon hear the sound of water and begin to follow a waterfall upstream.
All of this section is sheltered by trees which is a blessing on a hot day.
This part of the walk is, without a doubt, the most challenging section.
Once you’ve left the forest, you’ll continue to ascend for a little while longer – although this is a much easier incline to tackle.
You’ll pass plenty of cows, goats, and even chickens along the way, before descending to Seealpsee.
The path to Seealpsee is an easy wide road which provides views very early on.
As you descend further, more of the alpine lake will be revealed with stunning mountains as a backdrop.
You’ll arrive at the most remote area around the lake, with little more than a few benches to relax on.
This side is where most people tend to swim from since the other side is a little boggy.
As you make it to the halfway point around the lake, you’ll be met by a couple of small restaurants and multiple hiking trails which lead further up the surrounding mountains.
Continuing along the path, you’ll see there is much more activity going on around the other side of the lake.
There is a large restaurant with decking, a hotel and boats available for hire.
If you choose to stop here, it will be at around the 5-kilometre mark.
These are the last lot of facilities along the trail until you arrive back in Wasserauen.
The descent back to Wasserauen is a steep one that leads through the valley.
Initially, it’s quite tough on the legs – particularly if you’ve come from a trail further up the mountain.
But, before long, it evens out and all that’s left to do is follow the river back to the starting point of the walk.
Once you’re on the trail, it’s easy enough to follow the stream of people who are also heading to Seealpsee.
There is very little room for error on the outbound trip to the lake as there is only 1 path to follow.
Once you arrive at the lake, Wasserauen is well signposted and you’ll likely get you’re bearings on where you are since this trail is one big circular loop.
However, if you’d prefer to follow a map then my go-to platform is Alltrails.
Well-trodden routes can usually be found pretty easily there, however, this is one I had to create myself.
This is surprising given how many people were taking this route when I ventured to Seealpsee, but at least you have a copy for your trip!
Route map: Wasserauen to Seealpsee Circular
Facilities along the hiking trail to Seealpsee
You’ll never be too far from some facilities along this trail which is handy, especially if you’re hiking with children.
Below you’ll find some details about what facilities you can find where.
- Wasserauen: Start and end of the hike
In Wasseraurn you’ll find toilets and a couple of restaurants. Near to the Ebenalp cable car, you’ll also find a kiosk to pick up some snacks and drinks.
- Seealpsee: KM 4 & 5
Around the lake, you’ll find 2 small restaurants with toilets at kilometre 4. You’ll also find a hotel and restaurant with toilets at kilometre 5 which is close to where you rent the boats.
Best time to hike to Seealpsee
The best time to hike to Seealpsee is between April and November.
Hiking to Seealpsee is possible for most of the year, however you’ll find that certain routes which are too dangerous to travel on will be closed in the midst of winter.
This includes the outbound section of the route that we did, however the return journey from the lake to Wasseraeun is a service road which is open all year round.
Whilst members of the public cannot drive along this road, you’ll be able to walk it.
You’ll need to bear in mind that this is fairly steep, so if you’re thinking of heading here in winter, then you’ll need a solid pair of hiking boots.
Below is what you can expect to see in Appenzell in Switzerland by month:
- May – September: this is the summer period in Switzerland and you’ll see bright colours and lots of wildflowers
- October/November: this is when autumn hits and you’ll see fall colours as well as some snow by November
- December-April: this is predominantly the winter season and you’ll see snow on the ground. By April there will be much less
Alternative hiking routes to Seealpsee
Whilst this route is one of the best and easiest trails for those looking to solely visit Seealpsee, there are plenty more routes out there which include Seealpsee as part of a longer or more challenging hike.
Below you’ll find some great alternatives.
Ebenalp, Schäfler & Seealpsee
This route involves taking the cable car from Wasseraeun to Ebenalp and following a 9.5 kilometer trail that includes Schäfler ridge before heading down to Seealpsee.
Although you’ll take the cable car, it’s by no means an easy route as there is still some climbing to do to get to Schäfler.
Yet, perhaps the most challenging bit of this walk is the descent to Seealpsee.
Overall it’s a great alternative for those looking to tick off some popular spots across this mountain range.
Read the complete guide: Schäfler ridge hike
Wasserauen – Ebenalp Ascher – Seealpsee Lake
This trail is just under 9 kilometres and leads from Wasserauen straight to Seealpsee.
It darts round one side of the lake before heading up to Ebenalp Äscher which is a well-photographed restaurant that’s built into the side of the mountain.
From Ebenalp, you’ll then need to get the cable car back down to Wasserauen if you don’t fancy the steep descent.
Route map: Wasserauen – Ebenalp Ascher – Seealpsee Lake
Wasserauen – Seealpsee – Fälensee – Sämtisersee – Weissbad
If you’re up for a big day, then you could head on this 23.2 kilometer hike which is also known as the Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell.
Not only does it cover Seealpsee, but also Fälensee and Sämtisersee.
Although you’ll cover just under 1500 meters of elevation on this hike, this is mostly out of the way within the first 7 kilometers.
The remainder of the walk is either downhill or flat and it’s not too tough on your legs.
What to wear for hiking in Appenzell in Switzerland
Whilst you’ll be heading into the mountains, you’ll not necessarily be ascending too much – although it may feel like you are at times! As such, you can wear whatever you would wear if you were hiking straight from your front door.
The only thing you may want to pack in addition is your swimmers and a towel if you want to go for a swim in the lake.
Where to stay near Seealpsee in Appenzell
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.
If you’re heading to the region purely to do this hike, then you might want to consider staying in Wasserauen or making this a hut-to-hut hike.
St Gallen is a city that a lot of people seem to love, however when we 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 we were 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 Wasserauen it’s another hour, so you could easily 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 our 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:
If you’re heading to Appenzell to tick this hike off the list, as well as others that may start in Wassaueren, then it would be very convenient to stay here.
There are only a few hotels, as well as a farm stay which is referred to as ‘sleeping in the hay’ in Switzerland.
These are at the base of the mountain and benefit from incredible views, but you’ll need to be mindful that you won’t be near any shops or amenities.
However, the train station is just a few minute’s walk, so if you did need to reach the shops then it’s just 10 minutes into Appenzell.
The best places to stay in Wassaueren are:
Can you swim in Seealpsee?
Yes, you can swim in swim in the lake, however you’ll need to bear in mind that even during the summer months, it’s cold.
Is the Seealpsee hike suitable for children?
Yes, you’ll see plenty of children enjoying this trail. However, it is quite steep at the beginning so they’ll need to have a decent level of fitness or be prepared to take some breaks.
If you’ve got a stroller then you may be better off taking the road to and from Seealpsee rather than the forest trail on the outbound journey and the road on the way back.
Is the Seealpsee hike suitable for dogs?
Yes, this is the perfect trail for dogs. It’s sheltered on the way out and there are plenty of spots for then to get some water from the waterfall.
Once you arrive at the lake they’ll also be able to go for a swim.
Explore Switzerland further
If you like the sound of this Seealpsee hike and you’re exploring Switzerland for a little while longer, then we’ve also got some other guides that may come in handy.
- Schäfler ridge hike / an impressive snake-like trail around the rugged mountains in Appenzell
- Saxer Lücke hike / a dramatic panoramic trail that includes one of the best rock formations and alpine lakes
In the Jungfrau Region:
- Schynige Platte / one of the most spectacular areas in the Jungfrau Region with more than just hiking trails to explore
- Lauterbrunnen hike / an easy walk to the waterfalls in one of the most idyllic villages in Switzerland
- Harder Kulm hike / an epic hike up and down the mountain to the most popular viewpoint near Interlaken
- Augstmatthorn hike / one of the most challenging yet highly rewarding trails in Switzerland with unbelievable views
- Oeschinensee hike / a stunning panoramic hike around Lake Oeschinen
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!