Either of the following excursions from Appenzell would be ideal for a picnic, with some of the most dramatic mountains in eastern Switzerland as your backdrop. Before heading here, pick up supplies in Appenzell and the day is yours. We hope it's a sunny one.
A Must-Have Picnic Item -- If you're planning a picnic in the mountains, stock up on some of the local Appenzeller cheese at Chäs Sutter, Marktgasse 8 (tel. 071/787-13-33; www.chaes-sutter.ch). This cheese tastes like nothing else found in Europe.
Visit Ebenalp, 6km (4 miles) away, for a spectacular view of the hills and pastures of the Appenzell district. The jagged promontory is at an elevation of 1,620m (5,314 ft.). Wear sturdy walking shoes so that you can walk down to Wildkirchli -- a chapel in a grotto that was inhabited by hermits from the mid-17th to the mid-19th centuries. Paleolithic artifacts discovered here at the turn of the 20th century indicate that it is the oldest prehistoric settlement found in Switzerland so far.
To get here, drive to the end of the Weissbad-Wasserauen road, then take a cable car for an 11-minute ride to the summit. The cable car leaves every 45 minutes in season; a round-trip costs 27F for adults, 10F for children. For information, call tel. 071/799-12-12 or visit www.ebenalp.ch.
The major attraction in the area is Mount Säntis, the highest peak (2,463m/8,079 ft.) in the Alpstein massif. It offers a panoramic view of eastern Switzerland, including the Grisons, the Bernese Alps, the Vorarlberg mountains, Lake Constance, and even Lake Zurich. On a clear day you can see as far as Swabia in southern Germany.
To reach the departure point for the cable car (whose German name is Säntis Schwebebahn), drive 14km (9 miles) west of Appenzell, following the signs pointing to Urnäsch and Schwägalp. The cable car departs at 30-minute intervals year-round; round-trip passage costs 41F. For more information, call tel. 071/365-65-65 or visit www.saentisbahn.ch.
Instead of driving, you can take one of the most dramatic walks in the area from the village of Wasserrauen to the village of Schwägalp, at which point you can take a cable car to the belvedere overlooking Säntis. Hourly trains from Appenzell will take you to Wasserrauen. The walk between Wasserrauen and Schwägalp is 8km (5 1/2 miles), taking anywhere from 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours, depending on your stamina. As you hike along, you'll see some of the most scenic panoramas in this part of Switzerland.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.