4.9 square miles of bliss

Point Roberts

It’s what happens after you drive through U.S. customs and turn onto Tyee Drive and see that long expansive view of towering evergreens with the sea in the distance.

You can’t help it. You’ve just driven through loads of traffic, stoplight after stoplight, store after store and now you’re looking at heaven.

That’s when “The Sigh” will involuntarily escape you. Go ahead and let it out. We’ll wait.

Point Roberts is an island of serenity next to the bustle of the Vancouver metropolitan area. You can feel it as soon as you cross the border. The streets are narrow and lined with forests and fields, with views of the sea popping up. Drivers give a wide berth to the horses, cyclists and walkers with whom they share the road.

The pandemic was tough on the Point – only essential travel was allowed into Canada or to transit to the rest of the States. The re-opening of the border was an issue of deep concern to residents and local businesses.

“The Point” has retained a small-town atmosphere. Neighbors chat in the post office or the supermarket on Tyee Drive. The Gulf Road community center is once again a gathering place for local groups ranging from seniors’ association lunches to the History Center; next door is the new Point  Roberts library.

At the end of Gulf Road there are two restaurants with great views of Georgia Strait.

The Fourth of July in Point Roberts is a hometown USA extravaganza featuring a parade, pancake breakfast, barbecue and fireworks.

Point Roberts life focuses on the outdoors. With parks at each corner of the peninsula, a marina and a golf course, many opportunities are packed into 5 square miles.

Lily Point Marine Park has miles of hiking trails, snaking along the uplands and down to the bluff-ringed beach with views of the San Juan and Gulf islands, Mt. Baker, as well as sightings of resident eagles and great blue herons. In early summer, eagles gather by the hundreds on the sand flats to gorge on small fish trapped in tidal pools. Signage in the park can teach you the rich history of the area.

It was the site of an important summer fishing camp for several Coast Salish tribes who used reef nets at Lily Point to capture the sockeye run. Later, the Alaska Packers Association Cannery built giant fish traps off the Lily Point reef and canned millions of cans of salmon until the traps were outlawed in 1934.

At low tide in the summer, Maple Beach in the northeast corner of the Point offers acres of tide flats where families set up camp and spend the day splashing in the warm water, clamming, crabbing, beachcombing or zipping along on skimboards.

Lighthouse Marine Park in the southwest corner offers camping and a boat launch. When the salmon are running, it’s a popular fishing spot for fishers, as well as harbor seals and the local pod of resident Orcas. Orca spotters tend to have better luck mid-afternoon, but Meghan, the local park ranger, will be happy to tell you when they’ve been by.

The trail down to the beach at Monument Park in the northwest corner is steep, but the beach is worth the hike. Quiet and secluded, with acres of tide flats at low tide that are a popular hunting ground for great blue heron, it’s the perfect spot on a sunny afternoon.

Visit allpointbulletin.com and pointrobertschamberofcommerce.com

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