St. Sylvester’s Church was built in 1877 and overlooks a medicine lodge and Lake Helen. There is a cemetery attached to the church where the first recorded burial was on October 3, 1880, and people are still buried there today. Behind the church is a hiking trail.
Trail Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Distance: 1.5km one way
Location: Nipigon, ON
The trail starts right behind the church to the northwest of the graveyard and takes you along a creek before it turns to the right where it will lead you up to the top of the cliffs. You hike along the top for about 1km where you will have beautiful views over the church and Lake Helen. There are a few benches that people have made along the way. The trail is not that well marked in some spots. The trail ends at a large fire pit with benches, and you return the way you came.
I was originally told the trail went back to First Lake, but we didn’t find our way to the lake when we went. At some point, I’ll go back and try to get to the lake.
St. Sylvester’s Historic Catholic Church is located at Lake Helen Reserve near the Junction of Hwy 11/17. From Thunder Bay drive toward Nipigon on Highway 11/17. Drive past the turnoff to Nipigon and drive over the bridge. Turn left at Highway 11 and drive approximately 2km until you see the church on the right-hand side of the road. Turn left into the parking lot opposite the church to park.