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The Three Lakes Hike In Appenzell: Hiker’s Guide


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Jacky Gillard



Are you craving an adventurous getaway amidst breathtaking natural landscapes? Look no further than the Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell, Switzerland. Nestled in the heart of the Swiss Alps, this extraordinary hiking trail offers a remarkable experience for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.


The Three Lakes Hike takes you on a remarkable journey through the picturesque region of Appenzell, renowned for its pristine lakes, lush meadows, and panoramic mountain views. With its well-maintained trails and stunning vistas, this hike is an ideal choice for both seasoned hikers and beginners.


Prepare to be captivated by the tranquil beauty of Lake Seealpsee, Lake Sämtisersee, and Lake Fählensee as you embark on a memorable adventure. Each lake has its own unique charm, showcasing the diversity of the Appenzell region and offering a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


Throughout this article, we will guide you through every aspect of the Three Lakes Hike. From accessing Appenzell to discovering the scenic views along the way, you’ll have all the information you need to plan an unforgettable hiking trip.


So, if you’re ready to immerse yourself in nature’s wonders, let’s dive into the details of the Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell and discover why it’s a must-visit destination for adventure seekers.


Getting to Appenzell

Getting to Appenzell is a seamless journey, thanks to its well-connected transportation network. Whether you’re traveling from within Switzerland or from abroad, you have various convenient options to reach this enchanting destination.


If you prefer to travel by air, the closest international airport is Zurich Airport. From there, you can take a train to Appenzell, which is approximately a two-hour scenic journey. The train ride itself offers stunning views of the Swiss countryside, allowing you to get a taste of the natural beauty that awaits you in Appenzell.


If you’re already in Switzerland, you can also opt for a train or bus to reach Appenzell. The Swiss railway system is known for its efficiency, punctuality, and comfortable transportation. Simply check the schedule and hop on a train or bus heading to Appenzell, enjoying the picturesque landscapes during your journey.


For those who prefer driving, Appenzell is easily accessible by car. The region provides ample parking facilities, allowing you to explore the area at your own pace. Just keep in mind that certain parts of the journey might have narrow and winding roads, so drive cautiously and be prepared for the occasional hairpin turns.


Once you arrive in Appenzell, you’ll be greeted with the charm of this traditional Swiss village. The serene atmosphere and stunning alpine backdrop make it a perfect base for outdoor activities, including the Three Lakes Hike.


Overall, reaching Appenzell is a straightforward process, whether you choose to travel by air, train, bus, or car. With good transport links and the promise of picturesque views along the way, your journey to Appenzell will set the stage for an incredible adventure.


Overview of the Three Lakes Hike

The Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell is a scenic and rewarding trek that showcases the natural beauty of the region. Spanning a distance of approximately 10 kilometers, this well-marked trail takes you on a journey to three stunning lakes: Seealpsee, Sämtisersee, and Fählensee.


The hike is known for its diverse terrain, offering a mix of gentle slopes, meadows, forests, and rocky paths. This variety adds an exciting element to the adventure, keeping you engaged and constantly amazed by the changing landscapes along the way.


With an elevation gain of around 500 meters, the Three Lakes Hike is considered moderate in difficulty, making it accessible to hikers of various fitness levels. You can expect to complete the trek in approximately four to five hours, depending on your pace and the time spent admiring the scenery.


One of the highlights of this hike is the opportunity to discover each of the three lakes, each with its own unique character. Lake Seealpsee, the first lake on the trail, is renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and impressive reflections of the surrounding mountains. It’s the perfect spot to rest, take stunning photographs, and even dip your toes in the refreshing water.


As you continue on the trail, you’ll reach Lake Sämtisersee, a serene and secluded lake tucked away in a picturesque valley. This hidden gem offers a peaceful atmosphere, surrounded by verdant forests and the sound of chirping birds. Take some time to soak in the tranquility and enjoy the serenade of nature.


The final destination on the Three Lakes Hike is Lake Fählensee, a small but charming lake teeming with aquatic plants. This secluded oasis is a haven for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts, providing opportunities to spot various bird species that call the lake home.


Throughout the hike, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the Appenzell Alps, lush meadows, and pristine valleys. The ever-changing scenery will keep you captivated and inspired, making the Three Lakes Hike an unforgettable adventure.


So lace up your hiking boots, pack your camera, and get ready to embark on an exploration of the remarkable Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell. With its awe-inspiring landscapes and the allure of crystal-clear lakes, this hike promises an experience that will leave you longing to return to the natural wonders of the Swiss Alps.


Trailhead and Starting Point

The trailhead for the Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell is located in Wasserauen, a picturesque village at the foot of the Alpstein massif. To reach Wasserauen, you can take a short train or bus ride from the charming town of Appenzell, known for its traditional Swiss architecture and rich cultural heritage.


Once you arrive in Wasserauen, you’ll find the trailhead just a short walk away from the train or bus station. Look for signs indicating the start of the Three Lakes Hike and follow the path to begin your adventure.


The starting point of the hike is at the base of the iconic Ebenalp mountain. This unique limestone massif is famous for its striking cliffs and the renowned Aescher-Wildkirchli Guesthouse, which is perched dramatically on the mountainside.


From the trailhead, you’ll begin ascending through beautiful meadows and forests, gradually making your way up towards the first lake, Seealpsee.


It’s worth noting that Wasserauen is well-equipped with amenities for hikers. You can find restrooms, water fountains, and a small visitor center where you can gather more information about the trail and the surrounding area.


As you start your hike, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the surrounding landscape, as the journey begins with stunning views of the lush greenery and the imposing cliffs of Ebenalp. The trail is well-marked with signposts and yellow-and-white trail markers, ensuring that you stay on the right path throughout your hike.


During the peak hiking season, it’s common to encounter fellow hikers along the trail, creating a lively atmosphere. This also provides an opportunity to interact with other nature enthusiasts and exchange hiking tips and stories.


Overall, the trailhead in Wasserauen offers a convenient starting point for the Three Lakes Hike. With its proximity to transport links, facilities, and the awe-inspiring Ebenalp mountain, you’ll begin your journey with excitement and anticipation for the natural wonders that lie ahead.


Lake Seealpsee

The first stop on the Three Lakes Hike is the enchanting Lake Seealpsee. This mesmerizing alpine lake is nestled in a valley surrounded by towering mountains, creating a truly breathtaking sight.


As you continue along the trail from Wasserauen, you’ll gradually ascend towards the lake, passing through lush meadows and dense forests. The anticipation builds as you catch glimpses of the turquoise waters through gaps in the trees.


Once you reach the shores of Lake Seealpsee, you’ll be greeted by a scene that seems straight out of a postcard. The crystal-clear waters reflect the towering peaks of the Alpstein massif, creating a stunning mirrored effect that is sure to leave you in awe.


This tranquil lake offers the perfect spot for a rest and picnic. Find a cozy spot along the shore, surrounded by the serene beauty of the alpine landscape. The peace and tranquility of Lake Seealpsee provide an opportunity to soak in the scenery, recharge your energy, and appreciate the wonders of nature.


If you’re feeling adventurous, you can go for a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters of the lake. Whether you choose to dip your toes or take a full plunge, the cool waters of Lake Seealpsee offer a rejuvenating experience, especially on a hot summer day.


For those looking to add a little more adventure to their hike, there is a trail that goes around the entire perimeter of the lake. This loop trail allows you to explore different vantage points and discover hidden gems along the way, such as secluded bays or serene spots for meditation.


As you leave Lake Seealpsee and continue on the Three Lakes Hike, take one last moment to marvel at the beauty of this alpine gem. The stunning reflections, the surrounding peaks, and the sense of tranquility will leave a lasting impression as you venture deeper into the natural wonders of Appenzell.


So be sure to include Lake Seealpsee on your Three Lakes Hike itinerary. Its captivating beauty and serene ambiance make it a must-visit destination along the trail, offering a glimpse into the remarkable natural wonders that await you in Appenzell.


Lake Sämtisersee

A hidden gem along the Three Lakes Hike, Lake Sämtisersee is a tranquil and secluded alpine lake that promises a peaceful and serene experience. As you continue on the trail from Lake Seealpsee, you’ll embark on a journey through picturesque landscapes, eventually reaching the shores of this remarkable lake.


Located in a scenic valley, Lake Sämtisersee offers a sense of calm and tranquility that is truly mesmerizing. Surrounded by lush forests and towering mountains, the lake is a haven for nature lovers seeking solace in the beauty of the Swiss Alps.


As you approach Lake Sämtisersee, you’ll be greeted by its clear, emerald-green waters, which shimmer under the sunlight. The reflection of the surrounding peaks adds to the ethereal ambiance, creating a scene that feels straight out of a fantasy novel.


One of the delights of visiting Lake Sämtisersee is the opportunity to bask in the solitude of nature. The remote location and serene atmosphere make this lake a perfect spot to relax, soak in the surroundings, and enjoy moments of uninterrupted peace.


If you’re up for a bit of exploration, you can take a leisurely walk along the shores of Lake Sämtisersee, immersing yourself in the scenic beauty and the abundance of flora and fauna. The refreshing scent of pine trees and the gentle sound of the rustling leaves create a sensory experience that enhances the serenity of the place.


For photography enthusiasts, Lake Sämtisersee offers countless opportunities to capture stunning shots. From the mirror-like reflections on calm days to the play of light and shadows dancing on the water’s surface, the lake provides an ever-changing canvas for your creative endeavors.


As you bid farewell to Lake Sämtisersee and continue your hike, take a moment to appreciate the tranquility and natural splendor that you’ve experienced. The serenade of birds, the emerald waters, and the sense of peace will leave a lasting impression as you make your way to the next stop, Lake Fählensee.


Lake Sämtisersee is truly a hidden gem along the Three Lakes Hike, offering a peaceful respite and a glimpse into the untouched beauty of Appenzell. Make sure to include this enchanting lake in your hiking itinerary and let its serene charm captivate your senses.


Lake Fählensee

Situated amidst picturesque meadows and surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, Lake Fählensee is the final jewel in the crown of the Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell. As you continue your journey from Lake Sämtisersee, you’ll be rewarded with the serene beauty and tranquility of this secluded alpine lake.


Lake Fählensee, also known as the “Bird Lake,” is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. The lake is teeming with aquatic plants and provides a habitat for various bird species, turning it into a vibrant wildlife sanctuary. Keep your eyes peeled for graceful swans, elegant herons, and other fascinating waterfowl that call this lake home.


The peaceful ambiance of Lake Fählensee is further enhanced by its pristine surroundings. The meadows by the lake are adorned with an array of colorful wildflowers during the summer months, creating a picturesque landscape that seems straight out of a fairytale.


As you explore the shores of Lake Fählensee, take a moment to listen to the soothing sounds of nature. The gentle lapping of the water against the shore, the rustling of leaves in the breeze, and the melodious chirping of birds create a symphony of tranquility that envelops you.


If you’re inclined towards photography, Lake Fählensee offers stunning vistas and abundant photo opportunities. Capture the reflections of the surrounding mountains on the calm waters of the lake, or focus your lens on the intricate patterns formed by the aquatic plants along the shoreline.


Take a leisurely stroll around the lake to fully immerse yourself in its serene beauty. The loop trail that encircles the lake allows you to explore different vantage points and discover hidden treasures along the way.


As your Three Lakes Hike comes to an end at Lake Fählensee, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the incredible journey you’ve undertaken. The captivating beauty, the untouched wilderness, and the sense of serenity you’ve experienced along the way will leave an indelible mark on your heart.


So, cherish the moments spent by the idyllic Lake Fählensee, bid adieu to its tranquil shores, and take with you the memories of this unforgettable adventure in the heart of Appenzell.


Scenic Views along the Way

The Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell is not only an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of the lakes but also a chance to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views along the entire trail. As you make your way through the diverse terrain, be prepared to be astounded by the stunning vistas that unfold before your eyes.


From the moment you start the hike in Wasserauen, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the surrounding alpine landscape. The towering cliffs of Ebenalp create a dramatic backdrop, while the verdant meadows and forests provide a vibrant tapestry of colors.


As you ascend towards Lake Seealpsee, don’t forget to look back and enjoy the view of Wasserauen nestled in the valley, with the Swiss Alps completing the breathtaking panorama. The sight of the quaint village against the backdrop of the majestic mountains is a sight to behold.


Once you reach Lake Seealpsee, you’ll be rewarded with extraordinary views of the turquoise waters reflecting the surrounding peaks. The picturesque lake is embraced by the majestic Alpstein massif, creating a postcard-worthy scene that will leave you in awe.


Continuing on the trail, you’ll come across several vantage points that offer sweeping views of the Appenzell Alps. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate the grandeur of the mountain range and marvel at the layers of peaks stretching as far as the eye can see.


As you make your way towards Lake Sämtisersee, enjoy the vistas of lush meadows, thick forests, and the play of sunlight through the trees. The changing landscape brings new and captivating views at every turn, enticing you to stop and soak in the stunning natural beauty.


Arriving at Lake Sämtisersee, you’ll be welcomed by the tranquil waters and the reflection of the surrounding mountains. Capture the mesmerizing scene on camera or simply take a moment to relish the tranquility and appreciate the unspoiled splendor of the lake.


Finally, as you approach Lake Fählensee, the views continue to impress. The meadows surrounding the lake are adorned with vibrant wildflowers, adding a colorful touch to the already picturesque setting. The visual contrast between the colorful blooms, lush greenery, and the deep blue waters of the lake is truly captivating.


Throughout the Three Lakes Hike, the breathtaking vistas serve as a constant reminder of the natural wonders that surround you. The sweeping panoramas, the reflections on the lakes, and the majestic mountainscapes create a visual feast that enhances the overall hiking experience.


So, as you embark on the Three Lakes Hike, don’t forget to bring your camera or simply take the time to appreciate the incredible scenic views that await you along the way. These views will leave an indelible mark on your memory and remind you of the remarkable beauty of Appenzell.


Flora and Fauna

The Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell not only offers stunning landscapes and pristine lakes but also provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the diverse flora and fauna that call this region home. As you traverse the trail, you’ll encounter a rich tapestry of plant life and have the chance to observe various species of animals thriving in this natural paradise.


As you begin your hike, you’ll be surrounded by lush meadows adorned with an array of wildflowers. From vibrant bluebells to delicate alpine roses, the meadows come alive with a riot of colors during the summer season, creating a visually striking display. Keep an eye out for edelweiss, the iconic Swiss flower, which can be found nestled among the rocks and grassy slopes.


The forests along the trail are equally enchanting, with towering trees providing shade and shelter for a diverse range of plant species. You’ll encounter moss-covered rocks, ferns, and mushroom colonies, adding a touch of mystique to the surroundings.


While hiking, keep a lookout for the wildlife that inhabits the Appenzell region. The mountains and forests are home to a variety of birds, including golden eagles, chaffinches, and great spotted woodpeckers. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a deer or ibex grazing on the mountain slopes.


As you make your way towards the lakes, the avian diversity becomes more prominent. Lake Fählensee, in particular, is known as the “Bird Lake” due to its significance as a habitat for various bird species. Here, you may spot graceful swans gliding on the water, elegant herons fishing for their meal, or migratory birds passing through during their seasonal travels.


The lakes themselves are teeming with life beneath the surface. If you take a moment to observe the clear waters, you may encounter fish such as trout or char swimming gracefully, adding to the allure of these natural wonders.


Appenzell’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage is evident in the protection of its flora and fauna. As you hike along the Three Lakes trail, be respectful of the environment and adhere to Leave No Trace principles. Treat the delicate ecosystem with care, ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the bountiful beauty of this region.


So as you embark on the Three Lakes Hike, keep your senses attuned to the vibrant flora and the potential encounters with the local fauna. By embracing and appreciating the natural wonders of Appenzell, you’ll forge a deeper connection with the environment and create lasting memories of your adventure.


Safety Tips

While the Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell is a remarkable adventure, it’s important to prioritize safety during your excursion. By following these essential safety tips, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

  • Plan and Prepare: Before setting off on the hike, familiarize yourself with the route, trail conditions, and weather forecast. Pack appropriate clothing, including layers, rain gear, sturdy hiking boots, and a hat to protect against the elements.
  • Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Carry an adequate amount of water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and energized throughout the hike. It’s essential to stay nourished for sustained energy and to prevent dehydration.
  • Use Sun Protection: The alpine sun can be intense, even on cloudy days. Apply sunscreen, wear a hat and sunglasses, and consider lightweight, breathable clothing that covers your arms and legs to protect against sunburn.
  • Stay on Marked Trails: Stick to designated paths and follow trail markers to ensure you stay on the intended route. Venturing off-trail can be dangerous, as it may lead to steep terrain, loose rocks, or unstable ground.
  • Watch Your Step: Pay attention to the trail surface and hazards along the way. Be cautious of loose rocks, tree roots, and uneven terrain, especially during steep ascents or descents.
  • Check Weather Conditions: Keep an eye on the weather forecast before and during your hike. Avoid hiking during storms or severe weather conditions that could jeopardize your safety.
  • Respect Wildlife: While encountering wildlife can be an exciting experience, it’s important to observe from a distance and not disturb or feed the animals. Remember, you are a guest in their natural habitat.
  • Carry Essential Supplies: Pack a basic first aid kit, a map of the area, a compass or GPS device, and a fully charged cell phone for emergencies. Also, inform someone of your hiking plans and estimated return time.
  • Be Mindful of Your Physical Limits: Assess your fitness level and choose hikes that align with your abilities. Take breaks when needed, listen to your body, and don’t push yourself beyond your limits.
  • Leave No Trace: Respect the environment and leave nature undisturbed. Dispose of trash properly, do not disturb flora or fauna, and leave the trail as you found it.

By following these safety tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience along the Three Lakes Hike. Keep in mind that the trail conditions and weather can change, so always prioritize your well-being and make informed decisions throughout your journey.


What to Pack

Properly packing for the Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell is essential to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey. Here is a list of essential items to consider packing for your hike:

  • Hiking Gear: Invest in a good pair of sturdy hiking boots that provide ankle support and have a grippy sole for traction on varied terrains. Don’t forget to pack a comfortable backpack with adjustable straps for carrying your essentials.
  • Clothing Layers: The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, so dress in layers to adapt to changing conditions. Pack lightweight and breathable clothing, including a moisture-wicking base layer, insulating mid-layer, and a waterproof shell jacket in case of rain.
  • Food and Water: Pack enough water for the duration of the hike, considering the exertion and weather conditions. Carry lightweight and energy-rich snacks such as energy bars, nuts, and dried fruits to keep yourself nourished along the way.
  • Sun Protection: Appenzell can receive plenty of sunshine, so pack sunscreen with a high SPF rating that offers broad-spectrum protection. Additionally, bring a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and lip balm with SPF to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
  • Navigation Tools: Carry a detailed map of the trail and a compass or GPS device to help you navigate the route. Familiarize yourself with the trail markers and signage before setting off to ensure you stay on the right path.
  • Basic First Aid Kit: Include essentials like adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, blister pads, and any personal medications you may require.
  • Extra Clothing and Accessories: Always pack an extra layer of clothing, such as a warm fleece or a lightweight down jacket, in case the temperature drops. Additionally, bring a waterproof cover for your backpack and a rain cover for yourself.
  • Other Essentials: Don’t forget to pack a fully charged cell phone and a portable power bank for emergencies. Carry a multitool or Swiss Army knife, a whistle, a headlamp or flashlight, and a small towel or bandana for various purposes.
  • Personal Items: Bring a small roll of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, insect repellent, and any personal toiletries you may need. It’s also a good idea to carry a waterproof bag for storing your electronics and important documents.
  • Responsible Waste Disposal: Pack a couple of biodegradable plastic bags to collect and carry out any waste generated during the hike, ensuring you leave no trace behind.

Remember to pack light and smart, considering the duration of the hike and the demands of the terrain. Be prepared for changing weather conditions and pack accordingly to ensure your comfort and safety throughout the Three Lakes Hike.



The Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell is a captivating adventure that allows you to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the Swiss Alps. From the serene beauty of Lake Seealpsee to the hidden gem of Lake Sämtisersee and the wildlife sanctuary of Lake Fählensee, this hike offers a journey through breathtaking landscapes and an escape into tranquility.


As you explore the trail, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, meadows adorned with wildflowers, and the crystal-clear waters of the lakes reflecting the beauty that surrounds them. The diverse flora and fauna add another layer of fascination and offer glimpses into the delicate ecosystem of Appenzell.


Appenzell provides a captivating blend of natural beauty, traditional Swiss charm, and the warmth of its people. While the Three Lakes Hike is a highlight, the region offers a myriad of other outdoor activities and cultural experiences to enhance your trip.


But beyond the adventure and exploration, the Three Lakes Hike is an opportunity to reconnect with nature, disconnect from the stresses of daily life, and find solace in the serenity of the alpine landscapes. The immersive experience allows you to appreciate the grandeur of the Swiss Alps while creating lasting memories.


Remember to prioritize safety, respect the environment, and adhere to responsible hiking practices. Pack appropriately, stay hydrated, and be prepared for changing weather conditions. By keeping these factors in mind, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable hiking experience.


So lace up your hiking boots, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and embark on the Three Lakes Hike in Appenzell. Allow yourself to be captivated by the beauty of the lakes, the vast vistas, and the sense of peace that can only be found in the embrace of nature.


Appenzell awaits, ready to provide you with an adventure of a lifetime. Start planning your trip, and get ready to discover the wonders of the Three Lakes Hike in this idyllic part of Switzerland.