Malbun, Liechtenstein

Photo: MySwitzerland.com
Photo: MySwitzerland.com

The arrival of spring means only one thing in your mind: hiking. Once the snow melts, you’re ready to lace up your hiking boots, fill your daypack, and set out with your walking stick. Each year, you tackle a different trail in the Alps. But lately, it’s been hard to escape the crowds in Italy, France, and Germany. So this year, you’re heading off the beaten path to hike in Liechtenstein for the first time.

Landlocked Liechtenstein may be one of the smallest countries in the world, but the mountainous nation is full of hiking trails with breathtaking views. Right now, those trails are still covered with snow. Rain and rising temperatures will soon expose the rocky peaks, the white-and-red trail markers, and the stone huts on the sides of the mountains.

Malbun, in eastern Liechtenstein, is home to a stone chapel, a local history museum, and the country’s only ski resort. It’s also where you’ll find the Princess Gina Trail. The circular trail was named for the beloved mother of ruling Prince Hans-Adam II after she died in 1989. It offers panoramic views of the Alps as it hugs the borders of Liechtenstein and Austria.

To begin the 12-kilometer hike, ride a chairlift to the Sareis station. The hike starts along the wildflower-filled Sareisjoch mountain ridge. After meeting a path from Nenzinger Himmel, a nearby village, the trail quickly becomes more challenging. A steep, uphill path is lined with steel ropes and sharp rocks. Pause often to catch your breath and take in your surroundings. When you reach the summit of Augstenberg, the highest point, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of green meadows, little mountain villages, and seemingly never-ending mountain peaks.

After taking a photo in front of the Augstenberg cross, start heading downhill toward the Pfälzerhütte near the point where Liechtenstein meets Austria and Switzerland. The stone hut serves food and, for those continuing on a longer journey, offers a space to sleep. You’ll stop to relax in the sun at a picnic table with bratwurst and a cold beer before finishing the last bit of the trail through Swiss pines and cow-filled pastures. The Alps have impressed you once again.

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