There are two different trails to take in the unique natural, prehistoric area of Rapola ridge. These distinctive trails run along Rapola ridge in Sääksmäki, approximately eight kilometres to the south of Valkeakoski city centre. The trails are approximately 1.6 and 6 kilometres in length and start in the stable yard of Voipaala Art Centre and follow the edge of Rapola ridge, circling two large depressions or kettle holes. In addition to the nature on the ridge and the beautiful landscape, there are also small grove areas, primeval spruce woods and prehistoric finds along the route.
The area around the ridge has guided paths to learn more about all the fascinating things in Rapola’s prehistoric cultural heritage.
The paths are fairly accessible, although the differences in elevation along the route are quite significant. The nature and prehistoric paths were planned and implemented by the park services and cultural services teams at the City of Valkeakoski in co-operation with the Finnish Heritage Agency.
The Rapola ridge is one of the most important prehistoric hill forts in Finland, which were in use at least during the period 800 – 1250 AD. On the upper slopes of the Rapola ridge a large number of dwelling places, cooking pits, and other signs of habitation have been found. Closely adjoined to the hill fort on the South Western slope is a large area with numerous finds. There are, among other, a burial ground with over hundred barrows (tumuli), and an ancient field from the Iron Age, found in excavations in 1988. Likewise coherently linked to the hill fort is an ancient harbour, at the bottom of the Saunalahti bay.
The many centuries of habitation on the slopes of the Rapola ridge has left its marks on nature, particularly on the vegetation. The manors of Rapola and Voipaala in the vicinity of the fort have had an even greater influence since their founding around the 16 th century.