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Feet First: Exploring the Appenzell Barefoot Trail

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Darla Uhl

In the beautiful countryside of Eastern Switzerland, there’s a hidden treasure to discover: the Appenzell Barefoot Trail (Barfussweg in German). The barefoot trail from Jakobsbad to Gontenbad offers a special chance for hikers to feel nature beneath their feet. Since you won’t be climbing high altitudes, you can leave your hiking boots behind and enjoy the sensation of going barefoot. It’s best to visit during warmer months when you can fully appreciate the textures underfoot.

Image of a Kneipp, Barefoot Trail Jakobsbad – Gontenbad by

This unconventional hiking experience spans approximately 5.30 kilometers of terrain that promises to awaken your senses and provide a unique adventure unlike any other.

Overview of the Barefoot Trail in Appenzell

Image of the Barefoot Trail Signpost by
Trail Name:Appenzell Barefoot Trail (Barfussweg)
Start Point:Jakobsbad / Gontenbad
End Point:Gontenbad / Jakobsbad
Distance:5.30 km
Hiking Time:1 hour 26 minutes (estimated with the Hiking Time Calculator)
Ascent (in meters):69 meters
Descent (in meters):83 meters
Ideal For:People of all ages

The Appenzell Barefoot Trail is a fun and short adventure that takes you through gravel, wood chips, a Kneipp, rolling hills, and the lovely Appenzell region. Even though it’s short and easy, it’s full of interesting sights. Thanks to its easy level, it’s suitable for everyone—from little ones to curious grown-ups, solo explorers, and nature lovers alike.

Highlights of the Appenzell Barefoot Trail

Image of a Sensory Path, Barefoot Trail Jakobsbad – Gontenbad by

Here are some of the Highlights of the Appenzell Barefoot Trail:

  • Unique Sensory Experience: Walking on a diverse range of terrain, from soft grass to earthy soil, rugged wood chips, and gravel brings a new sensation. You will feel a new sensation with each new step and immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings.
  • The Kneipp: The Kneipp is a shallow, cold water pool designed to stimulate circulation, blood flow, and metabolism. To use it, step in with your right foot, then your left foot, and with each foot change, fully withdraw your foot from the water. After spending 30 to 60 seconds in the water, dry your feet with your hands. You can use the Kneipp again after 2 hours. However, avoid using it if you are feeling cold, have kidney/bladder problems, menstruation, or arterial circulation disorders.
  • Natural Foot Massage: The varied terrain of the barefoot trail provides a natural foot massage. It also stimulates blood flow and strengthens the feet and ankles.
  • Jakobsbad: If you finish your hike in Jakobsbad, you can enjoy some activities there or in Kronberg, like the rope park, toboggan run, or playground.
  • Goba Shop: If you finish your hike in Gontenbad, you can visit the Goba Shop for shopping. If you happen to be there on a Thursday, you can even partake in their public guided tour (April to October, 9:30 AM).

Our Experience

Image of the Barefoot Trail Jakobsbad – Gontenbad by

We began our journey on the barefoot trail from Jakobsbad. The signs were easy to find, close to the train station and the Jakobsbad rope park. Once we spotted the starting point, we took off our shoes and carried them. The trail was short and straightforward, with no steep climbs or descents.

As we moved forward, we encountered various textures like gravel, wood chips, and earth. Shortly after, we came across the Kneipp where we took a refreshing dip before continuing. There was a muddy and wet section that we decided to skip due to worms, which scared the kids, but we walked alongside it. Apart from this and some tall grass that we avoided because of ticks, the path was well-maintained and easy to navigate.

Overall, except for these two sections, the trail was pleasant and had no surprises. Barefoot trails are special and can be a lot of fun, although they might get a bit messy!

How to Get to the Appenzell Barefoot Trail

Image of the Barefoot Trail Starting Point in Jakobsbad by
  • Begin the barefoot trail near the Jakobsbad train station and walk towards Gontenbad.
  • Alternatively, you can start from the Gontenbad train station and walk towards Jakobsbad.

Final Thoughts: Barefoot Trail from Jakobsbad to Gontenbad

Stretching from Jakobsbad to Gontenbad, the Barefoot Trail is perfect for anyone who wants to feel more connected to nature. There are clear signs to guide you where you need to go. Once you hit the trail, you can ditch your shoes and enjoy the different textures underfoot, like grass and mud. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Kneipp, a cold water pool that’s great for refreshing yourself along the way.

Whether you’re hiking solo or with young children, this trail promises a fun and memorable adventure. So, grab your shoes and start from Jakobsbad or Gontenbad—it’s your call. Either way, you’re in for a treat on the Appenzell Barefoot Trail. I think that it’s a hidden gem in Switzerland’s countryside. Best of all, you can do it for free!

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Darla Uhl is the owner of Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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