The Lighthouse West Natural Area is hands-down my number one choice of all of the natural areas that the Leelanau Conservancy has protected. It’s also the most northern of all of the natural areas. It lies just around the corner from the Leelanau State Park (another personal favorite) and supplements the park with 1.2 miles of trail. There are many rewards for taking the time to hike this trail. Birdwatchers have the opportunity to glimpse more than 100 species. The trail is set up as a loop, with a path to traverse its center, and a short out-and-back leg at the pinnacle where it meets the beach. The terraced slope (don’t worry – there is a great set of stairs with a bench midway) enhances the view of the hardwood forest below – dappled with boulders left behind by the glaciers. There is a small observation deck (complete with benches) tucked into the cedars where the woods meet the water, and a small set of stairs that give you access to 640′ of protected shoreline.