Locals call it “The Sigh.” You drive through the border, turn right onto Tyee Drive with its towering evergreens, and “The Sigh” involuntarily escapes you. 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.
With two border crossings separating the community from the U.S. mainland, “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 a gathering place for local groups ranging from seniors’ association lunches to the historical society; next door is the new Point Roberts library. During the summer months, the Saturday Morning Market features local products.
At the end of Gulf Road there is a family restaurant and great views of Georgia Strait.
The Fourth of July in Point Roberts is a hometown USA extravaganza that welcomes its many neighbors to the north for a parade, pancake breakfast, barbecue and entertainment. The third annual Rory’s Ride on August 10 offers somewhat competitive and just there for the fun bicyclists a nice ride and barbequed burgers and beers at the end.
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 as well as day-use facilities and a boat launch. When the salmon are running, it’s a popular fishing spot for recreational and commercial fishers, as well as harbor seals and the local pod of resident Orcas. Orca spotters tend to have better luck mid-afternoon, but Aaron, 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.
Developments such as the golf course and the marina have incorporated public walking trails, with the most recent addition being a bluff trail and staircase to the beach at the Cottages at Seabright Farms.