Mt Säntis and surroundings
The highest peak in the Alpstein massif, which consists of three ranges lying between the Rhine valley, Toggenburg and the Vorderland of Appenzell, is the Säntis (2,504 m/8,216ft), a mountain much favored by hill-walkers, climbers and those who prefer to make the ascent by cableway. From the summit there are panoramic views of the Vorarlberg, Grisons, Glarus and Uri Alps and across Lake Constance and far into Southern Germany (Swabia). To the northwest of the peak the boundaries of the two half-cantons and of the canton of St Gallen meet. From the Schwägalp (1,283 m/4,210ft; inn, 64b.) a cableway runs up, with only two intervening supports, to the Säntis (upper station 2,476 m/8,124ft; length 2,307 m/7,569ft, height difference 1,193 m/3,914ft, time 10minutes; restaurant and inn, 20b.). The ascent on foot takes 3.5 hours from the Schwägalp and four-five hours from Wasserauen. The railroad line from St Gallen via Herisau (11km/7mi; change trains) terminates at Urnäsch (23km/14mi), from where there is a bus to the Schwägalp (11km/7mi; 30minutes). The road from St Gallen to Urnäsch (32km/20mi) passes through the villages of Stein and Hundwil.
Facilities: On-site accomodations
Urnäsch (alt. 826 m/2,710ft; pop. 2,300) is the largest in area and one of the oldest communes in Appenzell-Ausserrhoden. The village square with its trim wooden houses reflects the people's attachment to tradition, and Urnäsch is widely known for its rustic dances, New Year celebrations and other traditional observances. It has a museum of Appenzell traditions and a local museum. Footpaths lead into the surrounding hills. From Urnäsch it is 14km/9mi to Appenzell. The road comes in 4km/ 2mi to Jakobsbad (alt. 876 m/2,874ft; chalybeate spring), from which there is a cableway up the Kronberg (1,663 m/5,465ft: length 3,223 m/10,575ft, height difference 772 m/2,533ft, time eight minutes; restaurant). 2km/1mi beyond this is Gonten (alt. 902 m/2,960ft).
Brülisau (alt. 922 m/3,025ft; pop. 700), the terminus of a postal bus service (Swiss postal buses convey both passengers and mail), has a cableway up the Hoher Kasten (1,794 m/5,886ft), from which there is a geological trail to Staubern. A road leads from the Brühltobel gorge to the Sämtisersee and Fählensee (mountain inns). Other good climbs are up Fähnern (1,506 m/4,941ft), with a little lake, the Forstseeli, and by way of the steep "Zahme Gocht" up the Alpsigel (1,662m/5,453ft).