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Hiking to Berggasthaus Aescher in the Alpstein Mountains of Appenzell, Switzerland

Berggasthaus Aescher Wildkirchli is a wooden guesthouse built into a cliff in the Alpstein mountains in Switzerland. It stands at an elevation of 1454 meters above sea level. 

This legendary mountain hut, wedged into the rock wall of Ebenalp, has existed in its current form since 1884, making it one of the oldest mountain guesthouses in Switzerland. 

Berggasthaus Aescher is like any managed mountain hut in the Alps, welcoming both day visitors and overnight guests. 

The Berggasthaus Aescher restaurant serves food and drinks throughout the day. You do not need a reservation to eat here; it’s first come first served. 

The fastest and easiest way to get to Berggasthaus Aescher is from the Ebenalp plateau, accessible by cable car from Wasserauen in Appenzell (Appenzellerland). From Ebenalp, it only takes 25 minutes to hike down to Aescher via the Wildkirchli caves.

Alternatively, you can skip the cable car ascent and hike from Wasserauen to Aescher via the stunning Lake Seealpsee.

Berggasthaus Aescher, Alpstein, Appenzell Alps, Switzerland

Berggasthaus Aescher Hiking Map


Berggasthaus Aescher Opening Times

Aescher restaurant and guesthouse, Ebenalp, Alpstein, Switzerland

The Aescher Mountain Inn is open between May and November. 

From May through October, Berggasthaus Aescher is open daily starting at 7:30 a.m. Warm food is available between 11 am and 8:30 pm.

In November, Berggasthaus Aescher is open daily starting at 8:00 am. Warm food is available between 11 am and 7:30 pm.


How to Get to Berggasthaus Aescher 

Wasserauen, Alpstein, Appenzell, Switzerland

The hikes to Berggasthaus Aescher start in Wasserauen, a settlement in Schwendetal Valley in Appenzell Innerrhoden.

Wasserauen lies on the Gossau–Wasserauen train line of the Appenzell Railways. From Appenzell village, it’s only a 15-minute train ride to Wasserauen. 

You can also drive to Wasserauen. There’s a small car park directly at the Ebenalp cable car valley station and a very large paid car park across from the cable car valley station. You can pay for parking using a mobile app (easypark, twint, or parkingpay), or with CHF Coins.

Wasserauen Train Station | Google Maps 

Wasserauen Car Park | Google Maps 

There are two main routes from Wasserauen to the Berggasthaus Aescher cliff restaurant. You can either ride the cable car to Ebenalp and hike 25 minutes to Berggasthaus Aescher, or hike up to Berggasthaus Aescher via Lake Seealpsee (3 hours). 


Ebenalp to Berggasthaus Aescher Hike (25 minutes one-way)

Ebenalp cable car valley station, Wasserauen, Switzerland

Ride the Wasserauen-Ebenalp cable car up to the Ebenalp plateau. The Ebenalp cable car is included in the Appenzeller Ferienkarte (Appenzell Holiday Card), which is distributed to overnight guests who stay 3+ nights in Appenzellerland.

Ebenalp Cable Car | Pricing and Opening Times 

When you exit the Ebenalp cable car mountain station (1590 m), locate the trail signs. 

Turn right in the direction of Wildkirchli (15 minutes) and Äscher (20 minutes). 

The hut that stands on the hill just above the cable car mountain station is Berggasthaus Schäfler. 

Ebenalp mountain pasture, Appenzellerland, Switzerland

Ebenalp is the northernmost summit of the Alpstein’s northern chain. When you look north and east, away from the Alpstein massif, a pastoral landscape of velvet-green hills and pockets of forest unfurls before you. 

The well-groomed gravel path descends across the Ebenalp mountain pasture. There are a few shallow steps along the way. 

During the Alp season, this trail is lined with fences to minimize the contact between hikers and cattle. 

Ebenalp to Wildkirchli Cave hiking trail, Alpstein, Switzerland

At the signed trail junction, continue right to Wildkirchli and Äscher. The trail, now a cement-cobbled path, continues across the grassy mountain pasture. 

You can see the Hoher Kasten summit straight ahead. 

The gravel path, flanked with a cable fence on one-side, leads to the entrance of the Eremitenhöhle cave, one of the Wildkirchlihöhle caves. 

Eremitenhöhle cave entrance, Ebenalp, Alpstein, Switzerland

The wide, well-constructed path curves down the illuminated cave. There’s a handrail for security. 

Eremitenhöhle, Wildkirchli cave, Alpstein, Switzerland

Text is projected onto the cave walls, providing further context (German only). Here are the most interesting facts: 

  • The Wildkirchlihöhle caves were the most popular attraction in Switzerland in the 18th century. 
  • There used to be white limestone stalactites in the cave. Historically, people would collect this lime excretion called “Montmilch” (mountain milk) for medicinal purposes. They would dissolve the lime in water and drink it to neutralize stomach acidity. 
  • In 1904, the archaeologist Emil Bächler discovered stone tools in the cave, which proved  for the very first time that people from the Paleolithic period lived in the Alps.
  • Neanderthal hunters used the caves as a resting place in summer.
  • The Wildkirchlihöhle caves were repeatedly visited by cave bears during the Ice Age. Archaeologists excavated the remains of over 600 bears. It’s believed that the bears died in the caves during hibernation. 

There’s a small wooden hermit’s house at the mouth of the cave. In 1657, Priest Paaulus Ulmann built the first hermit’s house here, wherein he lived for 2 years. Hermits continued to live in the Wildkirchli hermitage for almost 200 years. Today, the wooden hut serves as an exhibit (German only). 

When you exit the cave, you’re on a wide ledge, which is safeguarded with a sturdy handrail. 

The Wildkirchli (1491 m) trail sign indicates 10 minutes to Äscher. 

The ledge trail contours along the vertical cliff.

Wildkirchli Cave Chapel, Ebenalp, Aescher, Switzerland

You’ll soon arrive at another cave entrance, which functions as a chapel. Services are still conducted here in the summer months. 

Pass by the Zweisiedlerhütte (“Hermit Lodge”), a small wooden hut wedged into the rock face. By the way, you can book an overnight stay in this private hut on aescher.ch

Ebenalp to Aescher ledge trail, Alpstein, Appenzell, Switzerland

Hike through the timber covered walkway and follow the timber-reinforced ledge trail down to Berggasthaus Aescher – Wildkirchli.

Berggasthaus Aescher is built into the cliff of Ebenalp. In fact, one of its walls is made up of the rock itself. If you venture inside, you’ll see the rock wall in the far dining room. 

Berggasthaus Aescher Mountain Restaurant and Guesthouse, Appenzell, Switzerland

There are a smattering of tables outside the hut. You can sit wherever you want. It’s first come first served. 

From the Aescher hut terrace, you can see Altmann, the third highest peak in the Alpstein. The massive mountain wall across the valley of Lake Seealpsee is Marwees. The meadow below the hut is grazed by Appenzeller goats during the Alp season. 

Just beyond the terrace, there’s also a shop, where you can purchase souvenirs. 

After visiting Bergasthaus Aescher, return to the Ebenalp mountain station along the same trail. 

Alternatively, you can descend to Lake Seealpsee and then all the way down to Wasserauen (2 – 2:30 hours). 


Berggasthaus Aescher Restaurant Menu 

Rock wall interior of Berggasthaus Aescher, Alpstein, Switzerland

There are menus available in both English and German. 


Beverage Menu

The cold beverage menu consists of local Appenzeller beers including a ginger beer, cider with/without alcohol (Most trüeb), various spritzers, red and white wines, still and sparkling water, soda (coke and flauder), apple shorley, unfermented apple juice, and homemade ice tea. 

The hot beverage menu consists of coffee, espresso, latte, hot chocolate, tea, and various alcoholic coffees. 


Breakfast Menu (available until 11 am)

Berggasthaus Aescher Restaurant Dining Room, Appenzell, Switzerland

The main menu is available starting at 11 am. If you arrive at the Aescher mountain inn before 11 am, you can order from a limited breakfast menu:

Aescher Breakfast: a breakfast platter of local Appenzeller cheese and speck, cold-smoked sausage tarter, butter, jam, yogurt, Käsefladen (quiche), homemade fruit bread, and a drink. 

Cave Yogurt: yogurt with granola and berry compote.

Homemade Cheese Tart (Käsefladen): egg-cheese-onion-leek savory pastry similar to a quiche. 


Small Bites and Mains Menu (available between 11 am and 7:30/8:30 pm)

The Aescher small bites menu features barley soup, mixed salads, sausage and cheese salads, Käsefladen cheese tart, Appenzeller cheese, cold-smoked sausage, and cold platters (cheese and charcuterie board). 

The main menu consists of short ribs, chicken with vegetables, buttermilk bramata, plant based bolognese, sausage, and beef ragout. 

The children’s menu features beef ragout, plant based bolognese, and barkley soup. 


Berggasthaus Aescher Overnight Booking and Pricing 

Berggasthaus Restaurant Terrace, Appenzell, Switzerland

Berggasthaus Aescher is a rustic mountain inn, not a hotel. There are no private bathrooms, no soundproofing, no showers, no WIFI, and no typical “hotel” facilities. 

If you’d like to stay overnight in the Aescher hut along a longer hut-to-hut hiking tour, check out this Swiss Whiskey Trek, moderately-paced, 8-Day Hut to Hut in Appenzell Alps Standard Itinerary , and fast-paced 6-Day Hut to Hut in Appenzell Alps Active Itinerary.

Reservation | You can send booking requests by filling out this form.

You can choose between the Hermit Lodge (the small “annex” hut located near the chapel cave), Room at the Rock (double room), 4 Bed Room (4 single beds in 1 room), Group Room (mixed dormitory room), or Marmot’s Place (attic room for 1-3 people).

You can see photos and read descriptions of these rooms on aescher.ch/en/sleep.  

You need to bring a sleeping bag liner like this Sea to Summit liner if you stay overnight in the Group Room, or the Marmot’s Place. 

Pricing | See pricing. Room rates include breakfast. The Aescher inn is a private hut. It has no alpine club affiliation, which means that Alpine Club members do not receive discounts here. 

Payment | Cash or Card in CHF (Swiss Francs). 

Showers | There are no showers in Berggasthaus Aescher. The hut has a limited water supply. It uses water from the Wildkirchli cave reservoir, which is fed by rainwater. 

Half Board or à la carte | A table is reserved for overnight guests. You can order dinner from the à la carte menu. The warm kitchen closes at 8 pm.

Check-in | 4 pm 

Check-out | 9 am 

Dogs | Dogs are only allowed in certain rooms. 


Where to Stay in Appenzellerland


Appenzell Village

Appenzell Village, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Switzerland

The lovely town of Appenzell is the capital of the Swiss Canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, Appenzell is a picturesque town with colorful gabled buildings that house delicious bakeries, restaurants, hotels, apartments, and museums.

Accommodations are always clean and comfortable, but modest. There are no 5-star hotels in this area of Switzerland. 

We recommend staying in, or near the village center of Appenzell, because of the dining options and cultural activities (museums and art galleries). After long hikes in the Alpstein, it’s ever so nice to end your day in the heart of Appenzellerland. 

Appenzell is also a great base for those traveling without a car. With train connections to Wasserauen and Weissbad (bus transfer to Brüllisau), it’s effortless to get around to various trailheads. 

Budget | Alte Metzg – Hostel offers 3 spotless rooms with communal bathrooms and kitchen facilities. This intimate hostel is walking distance to the Appenzell village center and train station. On-site parking is available, but must be reserved in advance (fees apply). They also run the neighboring midrange Alte Metzg Boutique Pension with private single, double, and family rooms.  

Midrange | Blattenheimat – im traditionellen Appenzeller Haus (2 nights minimum stay) is a traditional, gabled house with 2-3 bedroom apartments and free private parking, very close to the Hauptgasse (pedestrain main street of Appenzell). Guests have access to a washing machine and dryer in the basement. 

Midrange | Located very close to the Appenzell train station, Hotel B&B Stossplatz is a darling bed and breakfast with free private parking, free bikes, and a shared lounge. Rooms either have shared, or private bathrooms.

Luxury | Hotel Appenzell is located on the historic Landgemeinde Square in the center of Appenzell village. Boasting an excellent restaurant with an outdoor terrace as well as a confiserie (patisserie), this traditional Appenzell hotel is a great option for your stay. Breakfast and parking are included in the rate. 

Luxury | Adler Hotel is centrally located at the start of the pedestrian Hauptgasse (main street), across from the Parish Church of St. Mauritius and the Metzibrücke Bridge. This traditional hotel with two restaurants is a great place to stay if you’re traveling without a car. No parking available on-site. 

Look for accommodation in Appenzell.


Weissbad Village

Weissbad is a quiet village in Schwendetal Valley between Appenzell and Wasserauen.

Situated on the Gossau–Wasserauen train line of the Appenzell Railways, Weissbad is a great base for exploring the region. It takes a mere 6 minutes to reach Appenzell village by train. It takes only 10 minutes to ride the train to Wasserauen (Ebenalp cable car valley station, Seealpsee trailhead, Marwees trailhead, etc…). And, it’s only an 8-minute bus ride to Brüllisau (Hoher Kasten cable car, Saxer Lücke and Fählensee trailhead). 

Midrange | Weissbad Lodge, not to be confused with the nearby sister property of Hotel Hof Weissbad (luxury), is a comfortable accommodation with spacious, modern rooms and free on-site parking. The lodge is located on the bank of the Sitter River, just a block away from the Weissbad train station and bus stop. The only negative is the self-service breakfast.

Luxury | Hotel Hof Weissbad accommodates luxury-minded travelers with its two restaurants and bar, two swimming pools, fitness center, spa and wellness area. Breakfast and parking are included in the room rate. The price is rather steep.

Look for accommodation in Weissbad.


Schwende Village

Schwende lies in Schwendetal Valley, just south of Weissbad. 

This village is also located along the Gossau–Wasserauen train line, with direct connections to Wasserauen, Weissbad, and Appenzell. 

Midrange | The family-run Hotel Frohe Aussicht, which means “happy outlook,” is a hillside hotel and restaurant surrounded by beautiful countryside. It’s a short uphill walk from the Schwende train station to the hotel. Guests love the views and the restaurant!!!



Keep Reading about Appenzell

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Alps Trip Planning Essentials


When to Visit the Alps

We recommend visiting the Alps in summer (June – mid September), fall (mid September – late October) or winter (late December – March).

Read Alps in Summer to learn everything you need to know about visiting the Alps between June and mid/late September.


Alps Road Trips

Most destinations in the Alps are accessible by transit. If you’re visiting during peak seasons, we recommend traveling with trains and buses.

If you’re visiting during shoulder seasons (late May, early June, late September, October), a car is often essential in getting around.

When we go on hut-to-hut hikes, we always travel with transit. When we want to do a lot of day hikes, we find it easier to travel with a car.

We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.

Check car rental rates here

Alps Road Trip Itineraries


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Hiking in the Alps is our passion.

To learn about when to hike, where to hike, and hiking safety, read: Hiking in the Alps: Essential Tips. For trail inspiration, check out Best Hikes in the Alps.

For region specific trail inspiration, read:


Berggasthaus Aescher Mountain Inn and Restaurant, Appenzell, Switzerland

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Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails,

Sabrina & Kati

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