If you want to explore the interesting history of Saimaa Canal, then you need to head east to Mälkiä-Mustola –area. Did you know that first attempt to establish a waterway connection between Saimaa and Vyborg Bay was done already in 1499? The traces of this attempt were left underneath the existent new Saimaa Canal, but the remains of the next attempt (1607) are still to be seen in Pontus. Some remains of the old Saimaa Canal, which was build in 1845-1856, have survived. You can admire old stone based structures in Mälkiä lock, and also in Kansola and Nuijamaa. Also modern locks are worth visiting with their great drops and huge sluices.
Departure from Lappeenranta harbour, then cycle the beautiful scenery road that goes around the harbour area heading east. In Kaukas you can admire the beautiful houses of the Kaukas factory. The classistic Club House dates to 1938 and the staff houses are build in 1920’s. Architecturally most significant is the staff’s terraced house from year 1951. More modern architecture is represented by the new main office building “Mutteri”. More buildings of the Kaukaa factory can be found in Kanavansuu and Mälkiä. (Additional routes - Kanavansuu and Murheistenranta)
In Lauritsala (Additional routes – Lauritsala) you can take a detour to see the services and sights of former Lappeenranta’s market town. Lauritsala offers functionalistic buildings and also older wood houses. Also Saimaa Canal begins here and the former Saimaa hotel used to serve those who would travel on it. The newly renovated Lauritsala Manor House with all its buildings across the yard are all part of the Saimaa Canal area.
The bridge that crosses Saimaa Canal offers good sights. A nearby beach Murheistenranta offers you not only recreational value but also ancient history and cold spring water. Before you turn to Mustola, go about 400 meters further ahead to see the remains of the Pontus excavation, an attempt to connect Saimaa to Vyborg Bay in 1607-1608.
Not far from the route is the pleasant area of Mälkiä, the houses used to be the residential area of the workers from Kaukas factory. It is a good example of the post war single-family house construction which was subsidized by industrial companies.
Saimaa Canal Museum is situated in the former Canal district’s superintendent’s official residence. The exhibition enlightens the different phases of constructing the Saimaa Canal. The valuable yard with the plantation, park ways and old sluices offer you a sight to the long gone old days… Visit the cafeteria at Saimaa Canal Museum for refreshments.
Saimaa Canal area is being renovated to its former glory, so access to the Saimaa Canal Trail area is limited during summer 2011! At Mälkiä lock (12,4 m) you can take a peek in just how high the highest lock in Saimaa Canal really is. The best way to explore the Mälkiä and Mustola locks, both modern and old constructions, buildings and museum area is to follow the Canal trail. You can borrow booklets about the trail in English from Saimaa Canal Museum. 1,5 km long Canal trail starts from Mälkiä, visits old sluices on the way to Mustola, and ends in the west side of Mustola lock. If you are lucky, you may see the sluices in action, and then the best place to see the boats is at Mustola lock.
The route from Lappeenranta harbour to Saimaa Canal Museum is 10 km long one way, 20 km both ways. The route is coated cycle path all the way, only a short distance before Saimaa Canal Museum runs on the road, which is light in traffic. From Saimaa Canal Museum to Mustola the path is uncoated. The route is easy; there are only few climbs of which the most demanding is the bridge over Saimaa Canal on Muukontie. The cycle path is somewhat narrow here, so please make sure you don’t block the path while admiring the scene.