Hoher Kasten: Hike with a far-reaching view in the “Alpstein” area
An excursion to the “Hoher Kasten” including a hike to the Sämtisersee is a worthwhile destination for everyone who love nature.
Text and Pictures by Marc Gottwald
Summary Hoher Kasten Hike
Time: 2h30min minutes
Technique & condition: both medium
Start: Hoher Kasten mountain station
Destination: Brülisau valley station
– The panoramic hike on the “Hoher Kasten” is a hike like in a picture book: with fantastic views over the mountains of the Alpstein and the Sämtisersee, the Rhine and even Lake Constance.
– Partly steep descents: For people with knee problems, the reverse route (ascent to the “Hoher Kasten”) is recommended.
– In addition to the view, the “Hoher Kasten” also offers an educational flower trail through the alpine garden and a panoramic rotating restaurant.
Into the world of picture books
Into the world of picture books
Yes, the “Hoher Kasten” is quite a popular destination. And that’s why the mountain top near the cable car station/restaurant is crowded with people on a nice day at the weekend. During the week or when the weather is changeable, however, many don’t take the hike at all.
Nevertheless, there is something so magical about the hike that it is definitely worth making it. The descent with its panoramic view of the Sämtisersee and the countless mountain peaks is simply indescribable! Something you have to experience.
Alpine Flower Garden
There are several mountains in Alpstein that are very popular among tourists. Above all, we know the Säntis and, since the report in National Geographic, the Ebenalp, which then leads to the “Äscher Berghaus” in less than 20 minutes. In the shadow of these sisters is the mountain “Hoher Kasten”.
In order to attract people, such areas often act creatively and innovatively. At the “Hoher Kasten”, for example, there is a panoramic revolving restaurant on the one hand, and an alpine garden nature trail with over 300 different plant species on the other hand.
We especially love the flower garden with its many educational panels, where children and adults can learn through playing. The complex topic of flowers and the formation of the Alpstein is explained in a simple way.
Descent to Lake Sämtisersee
After the tour of the flower garden, the descent towards Sämtisersee is imminent. First you hike to the “Sattel” while passing countless mountain flowers. Actually perfect for testing the plants you have learned. How many can you still identify? 😉
Hiking up is much more demanding and strenuous. However, this descent is not recommended for people with knee problems. But with this unique view, even the very sporty allow themselves an easier hike for once and take the way down. The permanent view over the Sämtisersee and the mountain peaks enchant everyone. After the “Sattel”, you follow the view to Lake Sämtis. To get to the lake, you hike in the direction of Plattenboden, where a small restaurant awaits you to stop for a bite to eat.
Geology of the Hoher Kasten
A large part of the area of the “Alpstein” and thus also around the “Hoher Kasten” is made of limestone (grey-white colour), marl (clay-lime mixture) or sandstone (mixture of sand as well as clay and lime as binding agents).
The limestone in particular is often attacked and dissolved/ eroded by precipitation (acid). Furthermore, former glaciers have also contributed to the shrinking of the Alpstein mountains through erosion.
The debris that was removed by the glacier was thus carried down into the valley and forms the hilly landscape of Appenzell.
Traditions and cheese on the Hoher Kasten Hike
The beauty of this region is that traditions are kept alive. The Alpaufzug (June/July) and Alpabzug (August/September) are still celebrated. During this time, the cattle (mostly goats and cows) come to the alp for about 12 weeks, where the juicy mountain meadows are grazed. This is why you see so many cows. You also see alpine cheese dairies all the time, like this one.
How many litres of milk do you think a cow gives on average per day on the alp?
Not much compared to the lowlands. It’s only 15-25 litres per day, in the valley up to 3 times more: more activity and simple grass instead of concentrated feed make the difference. So the body needs much more energy.
After a good piece of cheese with bread in the alpine hut with a permanent view towards the “Hoher Kasten”, we take the last section back to the valley station of the mountain cable car in Brülisau. There is a steep descent (not recommended in the rain) or a more leisurely path, both leading to the destination.
The “Hoher Kasten” is a wonderful destination in the “Alpstein”. Thanks to the rotating restaurant, the alpine garden and the brilliant view over the Sämtisersee and the Ebenalp, the trip up the mountain itself is already worth it. Those who opt for a “Hoher Kasten hike” will be rewarded with even more nature and mountain panoramas. The region is very close to St.Gallen. Combining the Hoher Kasten or Alpstein with the Swiss city is very worthwile.