“Route 66”: Cross Liechtenstein in hiking boots
The term “Route 66” does not immediately invoke thoughts of mountains. Yet it does exist, an official and signposted Route 66; a hiking trail that crosses an entire country. In three one-day stages, hikers can cross from one side of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the other.
The first stage begins in the family-friendly holiday centre of Malbun. The Fürstin-Gina-Weg rises to Augstenberg at an altitude of 2,359 metres, the highest peak in Liechtenstein that is not a border mountain. Following the first peak, the trail descends to the Pfälzerhütte, a mountain lodge where a first break can be taken. The trail then continues gently through the Naaf Valley, via the Alpelti to the Sücka mountain guest house, where hikers can spend the night. A special feature of this hiking trail is the wealth of flora. Hikers can discover almost all 800 of Liechtenstein’s species of alpine plants along the route.
Two classic highlights await hikers during the second stage. From Sücka, the trail continues on the Gratrücken ridge, along the largest part of the tour to the Fürstensteig trail. The Fürstensteg is a unique experience for hikers with a head for heights and sure feet. The trail, which is hewn into the rock and was opened in 1898, is one of the most famous paths in the Rätikon region. Following the impressive Fürstensteig, the legendary “Drei Schwestern” (“Three Sisters”) mountain ridge awaits. According to legend, three sisters were turned into rock here, because they went gathering berries on a Sunday, instead of going to church. The Kuhgrat (2,123 meters above sea-level) is the highest point on this varied stage, offering splendid views of Rätikon, the Swiss and Vorarlberg mountains. This stage ends at the Gafadura Mountain Lodge, where hikers can enjoy fine food and reflect upon their adventures.
Nature-lovers will particularly enjoy the final stage. The route leads from the mountains down into the valley. Passing Nendeln and Mauren, the route takes hikers through Schellenberg. At just 626 metres above sea-level, the municipality of the same name is not considered a mountain municipality by Liechtensteiners. Schellenberg is located on the high ridge of Eschnerberg, which extends as an isolated mountain from north to east from Bendern (FL) to Feldkirch (A). Its secure high altitude above the Rhine Valley made Eschnerberg a favoured settlement site in the pre-historical era. Archaeological excavations have demonstrated that there has been a continuous settlement here since approx. 5000 BC. From Schellenberg the trail descends to Ruggell, the lowest point in Liechtenstein, and consequently the end of what is probably the most varied “Route 66”.