Hochhamm Wanderung

Hiking tip: Over the scenic mountain Hochhamm to Schönengrund

On this scenic trail hike from St. Peterzell over the Hochhamm to Schönengrund, not only will you be greeted by the charming scenery of the Neckertal and the Appenzeller hinterland, but also a cozy sun terrace with a unique view. The perfect tour to start the hiking season with some crisp altitude meters. Promised!

Hike Start in St. Peterzell

Our starting point for this half-day hike over the Hochhamm ridge is the village of St. Peterzell in the Toggenburg community of Neckertal. In the spring of 2020, we had already explored this area and traversed a stage of the Neckertal Ridge Trail on the opposite side of the valley here. The highest point of that tour – the Wilkethöchi, will serve as a point of reference for us on today’s hike.

We get off at the Bächlistrasse stop and follow the signpost, along a lightly trafficked tarred small road to the banks of the Necker. Just a few meters downhill, we pass an idyllic barbecue and resting spot right on the shore. Surely a wonderfully cool place for hot summer days.

Wooden Bridge Necker

Ascent to Hochhamm

At the quaint covered wooden bridge over the Necker, the signpost unambiguously shows us the direction our tour continues. No more comfort – for us it’s now left up a forest path through a stream gorge uphill. These first good 160 meters of altitude could also be avoided since a bus runs from Degersheim to Bächli, village every two hours. But we are already well warmed up after these initial meters of elevation and continue our path directly uphill. First, it goes over meadows and pastures – it’s not always clear where the path exactly runs. After that, there’s another stretch on a tarred road up to Brandhöchi.

Appenzeller landscape

After the farm, the tarred road turns into a field path, which we follow through the Brandwald towards Hofstettli. Gradually, the panoramic view opens up to the still snow-covered peaks of the Alpstein and Churfirsten, including Mattstock and Speer. Later in this tour, we will even spot the Rigi and Pilatus behind the green hills of Toggenburg and the Zurich Oberland. Amidst this great scenery, we make good progress and thanks to a varied route through forest and meadow paths, the altitude meters don’t feel so tough.

View during Ascent to Hochhamm

Well-Deserved Stop at the Hochhamm Mountain Restaurant

Two hours and 5 minutes, the signpost at the fork at the bottom of the Necker prophesied, is what the climb to the Hochhamm Mountain Restaurant would take. After exactly one hour and 45 minutes, we sit with two fine pieces of cake and a cool non-alcoholic juice on draft on this very sun terrace, admiring the view. Marvelous!

Forest Path on Hochhamm
Mountain Restaurant Hochhamm
Cake at Berggasthaus Hochhamm

The Last Tough Meters of Elevation to Summit Bliss

It’s a bit too early for lunch. The Chäshörnli will therefore have to wait for our next trip to Hochhamm. After all, many paths lead up here. For us, it’s now onwards to the highest point of Hochhamm at 1,275 meters above sea level. The climb from the mountain restaurant takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Even if the 70 meters of elevation to overcome after cake (and possibly Chäshörnli) might seem a bit tough — it’s worth it!

At the top, a splendid panoramic view opens up, stretching from Säntis to Lake Constance.

Ascent to Hochhamm
Panorama of Hochhamm

Via Tüfenberg and the Appenzell Trail to Schönengrund

From here, the descent is just as varied. We first follow a forest path to the Hof Tüfenberg. From there, we take a field path to the junction with Route Nr. 44 – the Appenzell Trail. Even on this last segment of the tour down to Schönengrund, panoramic views are plentiful. A short section runs along a paved side road – otherwise, you can expect mostly gravel paths or meadow trails. After 3 hours and 45 minutes, we reach our destination for this hike: the Schönengrund, village bus stop. We use the nearly 20-minute wait for the bus to Herisau to reflect on the tour. Our conclusion: Definitely a successful start to this year’s hiking season.

Signpost to Schönengrund

Key Details of the Hike from St. Peterzell to Hochhamm to Schönengrund

You can follow the route of our hike from St. Peterzell via Hochhamm to Schönengrund on the hiking map below. It is consistently marked as a yellow hiking trail (T1/T2). The path is not suitable for strollers. Due to the various path options, the tour can be shortened or extended as desired. Those who want to save on altitude meters can start the hike in Bächli. And for those who don’t have the energy for the summit climb after stopping at the Hochhamm Mountain Restaurant, you can head directly down to Schönengrund. According to the signpost, the ascent from St. Peterzell to the Hochhamm Mountain Restaurant takes about two hours. We took just about one hour and 15 minutes.

The Hochhamm Mountain Restaurant is open on weekends regardless of the weather, except during the operational holidays. During the week, opening hours are dependent on the weather. If you plan to stop by, consult the website before your tour – it communicates daily whether the establishment is open or closed. Note: According to current information on the website, the mountain restaurant will be closed for operational holidays from Monday, April 8, to Sunday, April 21!

Alternatively, along the route, you’ll find scenic benches perfect for a picnic and several rest areas with barbecue sites (the one on the Necker riverbank is the only one with wood on site).

Starting Point St. Peterzell bus stop, Bächlistrasse (724 m above sea level)
Accessibility Accessible by public transport
Length 12 kilometers
Elevation Gain/Loss ↗ 712 m ↘ 600 m
Duration 3:50 h
Destination Schönengrund bus stop, village (840 m above sea level)
Refreshment Options Hochhamm Mountain Restaurant

Practical Tips for Your Trip to Hochhamm

  • There is an hourly post bus connection to St. Peterzell from Brunnadern-Neckertal. At the destination in Schönengrund, there is also an hourly post bus connection (either back to Brunnadern-Neckertal or towards Herisau).
  • To Bächli (Hemberg municipality), there is a bus connection every two hours from Degersheim.
  • The Hochhamm Mountain Restaurant is open on weekends in all weather conditions, unless it is closed for operational holidays. It is best to consult the daily updated information on the website before your tour.
  • If you want to strengthen yourself with a coffee before the hike, get off at the St. Peterzell Dorf bus stop and visit the Landgasthof Schäfle.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *