This Difficult Mountain Hike Promises Some Of The Best Views In Switzerland

Hikers are spoilt for choice when it comes to incredible scenery on their Switzerland trip with its reputation as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It is certainly the place to go if you love mountains, valleys, and lakes, and if you like your spectacular coupled with a frisson of danger, then you should consider adding Ebenalp Schäfler Ridge Hike to your bucket list.

It's located in the Appenzelland region in eastern Switzerland, not far from the border with Lichtenstein, and Austria, another stunning European country for hiking. The famous Schäfler Ridge Hike runs from Ebenalp, across a spiny knife edge via the lofty Berggasthaus Schäfler and back down again. The undoubted highlight is the Schäfler Ridge itself with its soaring pinnacles and vertiginous drop-offs on either side. There are plenty of other sights to take in on your ascent and journey back down, and it is a popular route with well-maintained and signposted paths. 

This should not lull you into a false sense of security, however, as the steeper sections can prove dangerous if you don't keep your wits about you. Although it is only regarded as moderately difficult with a low level of technical expertise required, it can be a bit scary for people who are not used to heights and exposure. Don't let that put you off, though; you will be rewarded for your efforts and bravery with some of the best views in Switzerland.

Getting to Schäfler Ridge

You can hike the whole way to Schäfler Ridge from the small town of Wasserauen in the valley below. The route is a little over 4.5 miles and isn't too strenuous if you take it easy. It will also give you the chance to take in more of the scenery and stop for refreshments at the incredible wooden Ascher Cliff Restaurant which, as its name suggests, is wedged tightly against a sheer cliff face. The next part of the hike takes you through a rock church and some atmospheric Wildkirchli caves before you emerge at Ebenalp. This spectacular viewpoint stands at almost 5,400 feet above sea level and is home to a more modern restaurant and a cable car station.

If you would prefer to save your energy for the Ridge, you can take a soaring cable car ride from Wasserauen station instead. The cable car runs every 15 minutes during the day (check the timetable for seasonal changes) and takes only six minutes to reach the top. From Ebenalp, the trail takes you along a well-maintained and well-trafficked path to Berggasthaus Schäfler. The terrace offers superb panoramic views across the valley and the surrounding peaks and it is a wonderful place for a drink or a bite to eat. Cozy wood-paneled rooms are also available for overnight stays. Once you're fully refreshed, it is onto the Schäfler Ridge and, as the red danger signs make clear, caution is strongly recommended.

Tackling Schäfler Ridge safely

When you first glimpse Schäfler Ridge, you might be forgiven for thinking: "How am I going to get across that?" It looks like something from a Tolkien novel, or, if you're more of a "Godzilla" fan, like the spines along the back of some vast Kaiju. It is awe-inspiring and some visitors like to arrive at sunrise or sunset for even more spectacular views.

Once you step onto the most challenging part of the trail, take full advantage of cables secured to the rock face along certain sections. The path is fairly wide but the steep drop could present a hazard; people have died in the region in recent years so the perils should not be taken lightly. Despite this, the route is very manageable and is frequented by people of all ages and abilities, including dog walkers! However, hikers who feel nervous when it comes to heights should take extra care and pack safe hiking gear to avoid any panicky moments or mishaps.

The route also includes some steep metal steps which are best negotiated while holding onto the cables provided. Once you're past the trickiest section, you have the option to carry on to the Mesmer Mountain Inn or start your return journey via a series of switchback paths toward Wasserauen. Although not as dangerous, mind your step on the descent because loose rocks can cause slips or turned ankles. Schäfler Ridge looks daunting, but as long as you take appropriate precautions, you will have an incredible hike.