For thousands of beautiful songbirds and broad-winged raptors that migrate to nesting grounds in the Upper Peninsula, our Lighthouse West Natural Area at the Tip of the Peninsula is a godsend. Here, 42 acres and 642 feet of undeveloped shoreline along Lake Michigan provide a place to stop, feed and rest before crossing the big water. Lighthouse West provides an array of habitat for over 100 species of our feathered friends.
Leelanau’s geological history is well told at Lighthouse West Natural Area. The steep drop levels off to what is called a “boulder terrace.” The stairs take you down to the ancient lake level and then you proceed to the current lake level. The terrace was created when waters in Lake Michigan were about 20 feet higher than they are today. Giant boulders left by the glaciers are also present near shore.
Visit our spectacular trail and walkway that leads down the bluff to the lakeshore. Lighthouse West features a 1.2-mile trail network on flat terrain, with an 800-foot rigorous trail and stairs down a steep bluff to Lake Michigan.
Lighthouse West was made possible with help from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. It is part of a network of protected private and public lands that form a critical wildlife corridor and together encompass 600 acres and 2,000 feet of cobblestone shoreline. This area, known as the Tip of the Peninsula, has long been a priority for protection because of its importance to our migrating birds.
- Fantastic birding spot. Over 125 species have been seen on or from the property including wood warblers, scarlet tanager, woodpeckers, indigo bunting, cedar waxwing, raptors, bluebirds and more
- Lighthouse West, because of its cobble shore, is also an especially good place to view waterfowl.
- Property shows clear evidence of ancient lake levels and wave-cut bluffs
- Provides a dramatic example of old field/farm succession
- Giant, car-sized boulders left behind by the glaciers
Lighthouse West Natural Area Story Map
Check out a story map of how Lighthouse West Natural Area was created over time. See detailed maps of when the various parcels were protected along with beautiful photos and narration about what makes makes this place so unique and ecologically significant.