Walking Tour: Zwinglipass

  • Start Brülisau
  • End Wildhaus
  • Length 17.5km; two days

This moderately challenging hike leads through karst scenery and rural valleys to cross a pass at the northern foot of the Churfirsten. The SAW 1:50,000 Appenzell 227T (Sfr22) is a detailed map of the area. Buses run frequently from Appenzell to the trailhead in Brülisau (Sfr5.80, 15 minutes).

From Brülisau, follow the signposted road southeast to Pfannenstiel (940m). Continue into the Brüeltobel gorge, which rises over a watershed to reach Gasthaus Plattenbödeli after 1¼ hours. Take the Waldabstieg down left to the Sämtisersee, a striking lake. Bear right at Appenzeller Sämtis, and head towards the towering peaks of the Alpstein. The dirt track peters out at Rheintaler Sämtis (1295m), and a foot track continues up to the grassy Chalberweid below the canyon-like Marwees Ridge. Ascend southward via a steep gully onto a tiny saddle from where the stark, elongated Fälensee (1446m) slides into view, 1½ hours from the Gasthaus Plattenbödeli. Perched above Fälensee is Berggasthaus Bollenwees, a scenic hut to spend the night.

Skirt the Fälensee’s northern flank, sidling across broad scree fields to reach the Alphütte Fälenalp dairy farm. Above you, spectacular needles protrude from the rock walls of the Hundstein (2156m). Make a steep ascent along a ridge to the stone shelters at Häderen, 1¼ hours from Bollenwees. The route now rises more gently through karst fields with views to the bishop’s mitre–shaped peak of Altmann (2436m). Cross the Zwinglipass (2011m), a plateau pitted with depressions and sinkholes, then descend leftward to arrive at the Zwinglipasshütte, 50 minutes on. From the terrace there are views of the Churfirsten’s seven sawtooth peaks. Drop down the mountainside to pass Chreialp (1817m). Steep switchbacks zigzag down to Teselalp (1433m), at the end of a farm track, after one hour. Follow the dirt road for 1.25km, bear left onto a foot track, then head 400m down via Flürentobel chasm before branching right through clearings in the spruce forest. Continue down to Wildhaus, 50 to 60 minutes from Teselalp.