Michigan Riverfront Property on Betsie River
Betsie River Map


The Betsie River is a stream in the northwest part of the U.S. state of Michigan. The name is derived from the French Riviere Aux Bec Scies, meaning river of sawbill ducks (bec-scie). Other alternate names include Aug-sig-o-sebe, Aux Buscies, Betsey’s River, Black Robe, Gay-she-say-ing, Riviere du Pere Marquette, Sawbill Ducks, and Shelldrake Ducks. The river is mostly within Benzie County (which takes its name from a variant pronunciation of the river), although the river rises in southwest Grand Traverse County and flows briefly through northern Manistee County, Michigan.

The river widens to form Betsie Lake before emptying into Lake Michigan at between Frankfort and Elberta.

Northern Michigan Waterfront Property on the Betsie River
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The river rises as the outflow of Green Lake at in southwestern Grand Traverse County. Green Lake straddles the boundary between Grant Township on the south and Green Lake Township on the north between Karlin and Interlochen. Several nearby lakes, including Duck Lake and its tributaries, drain into Green Lake.


The river winds southwesterly from Green Lake into eastern Benzie County, and then briefly into northern Manistee County before turning northerly back into Benzie County. A dam on the river forms Homestead Pond, after which is flows mostly west and slightly north to Lake Michigan. The Betsie is a designated State Natural River. The upper sections flow through low, rolling forested hills and plains, while the lower corridor includes high forested ridges. The entire mainstream is canoeable, with a moderate to fast current. Canoe rentals and private camping are available on the river, with ski resorts and snowmobile trails nearby. The Betsie also is an excellent steelhead river, with very good salmon runs and fair brown trout fishing, to which the public has good access.

The state of Michigan considers the following tributaries vital to the protection of the mainstem. These include the Little Betsie River and Dair Cr.