Hiking on the puzzle trail in Schwellbrunn
In Schwellbrunn, hiking isn’t just a workout for the legs, but also for big and little heads alike. Moana Werschler, aka Miss Broccoli, tested the “Stüpfi” hike for us with her four-year-old son.
Although Appenzellerland lies on the outer edge of Switzerland, it offers tremendously attractive hiking opportunities and is perfect for families with younger children. The hills are not proper mountains, but the trails go up and down and you easily find yourself at over 1,000 m, and the view to the Säntis and other mountains as well as to Lake Constance is phenomenal.
We decided to go for the puzzle trail in Schwellbrunn, because the level of difficulty makes it suitable for smaller children. The village of Schwellbrunn calls itself the most beautiful village in Switzerland and is really very picturesque. We travelled by train, the Apenzell railway, and bus. Originally we wanted to do the longer hike with “Hüpfi” the fox, but because the train was late we decided to change at the last minute. Instead of a two and a half hour hike, we chose the shorter route with “Stüpfi” the hedgehog, which should usually take about one and a half hours. It was a good decision!
Start: it’s possible to go in both directions
In my luggage I also had the Swiss Post booklet, where the hike and route description are outlined. In Schwellbrunn itself you start out at the information board, and the good thing is, you can decide along the way whether to go for the longer or shorter route, and you can walk the circular path in both directions.
First we went uphill, taking in a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Constance and the Säntis, until we reached the forest. We had something to puzzle over at three stations on the way. Each of the puzzle boards include puzzles for children (I’d say children from five to six years can join in quite easily) and there’s always a puzzle for adults too. You’re fairly challenged at times. You can also send the tear-off slip to the local tourist office and take part in an annual raffle for excursion vouchers.
After a few minutes through the forest we arrived back at a meadow and the route went downhill for the first time. We were even greeted at a bench by Hüpfi and Stüpfi! Here we had to decide whether to take the shorter blue route (Stüpfi, the hedgehog) or the longer green route (Hüpfi, the fox).
The route: uphill and downhill with forest, meadow and field path
We now carried on further along the Stüpfi trail, briefly on a field road, then once more over meadows and through the forest. In the middle of the forest there is a picnic area with a barbecue and two big wooden tables. That came in handy for us, and the baby crawled around happily on the tables – after all, being carried around in a backpack all the time is just boring.
We continued through the forest and past farms. As we only completed the short route, we missed out on the Sitz mountain inn, where there is also a large playground and the best all-round view. But we were happy to have a drink in the village.
Finally the route ran along wooden steps through the forest once more and you come out directly at the car park at the starting point. After two and a half hours out and about and lots of altitude, we were quite tired and were happy to stop for a bite to eat at Restaurant Löwen.
Conclusion: hiking with young children in Schwellbrunn
The hike is graded as medium difficulty and that is also my assessment. My son (four years) was able to do the hike without any problems, but everyone felt the elevation gain in their legs. A hike with so much elevation was a first for the young one. A baby in a backpack is easy to carry; a stroller is not recommended. There are many wooden benches along the way and there’s a picnic area and mountain inn about halfway along the route. The stops along the puzzle path continually encourage you to go to the next station and thus the hike becomes more entertaining. If you don’t want to be in the high mountains and still want to do a more demanding hike with your family, this is the place for you.
By train and the Appenzell railway via St. Gallen or Gossau, Herisau and from there by bus to Schwellbrunn village.
By car: there are several spaces for parking at the starting point.
There is a short blue route with Stüpfi the hedgehog; it lasts about one and a half hours. With rests and children’s legs it took us around two and a half to three hours.
The longer green route (8.6 km) with Hüpfi the fox takes about two and a quarter hours (straight hiking time). There are about 405 metres of altitude to conquer.
The start and end point of the circular hikes (for both routes) is the wooden cabins at the car park in Schwellbrunn. You can walk both routes in both directions.
On the short route there is no restaurant, only a picnic area in the forest and a self-service shop at a farm with various drinks.
The long route runs past the Sitz mountain inn.
In the village of Schwellbrunn there are several restaurants, as well as a cheese dairy and a butcher’s shop.
Fresh vegetables, good cooking, and the little things in life are important to Moana (aka “Miss Broccoli”). Since her son was born, she has been a passionate mummy blogger. Her recipes are quick, seasonal, vegetarian/vegan and always with lots of vegetables. Sustainability is also very important. Visit her Blog “Miss Broccoli” or follow her on Instagram.