The CBP has been more present along the border since 9/11. This seems like mostly "security theater" but it would definitely suck be "made an example".
There are certain places where once-upon-a-time people who lived along the US/Canadian border on both sides freely moved back and forth with little fanfare. Those days are pretty much over. Every nation reserves the right to control their borders. They decide who can enter, where they can enter, and when they can enter.
Every year there are hikers who cross into Canada along the PCT without first obtaining a permit to enter Canada via the PCT. Most do so without incident. But increasingly people have been caught doing so only to discover that the CMP consider it a serious violation. Those caught entering illegally get whisked off to jail and suffer a huge fine and legal fees. A few years back, a woman had a permit, but because of either snow of something took an alternate route and entered Canada on another trail other than the PCT. She was caught, arrested, and spent several hours in custody. Through the US Consulate she was granted release, unceremoniously dropped off at the nearest border crossing, and told not to try reentering. She was very lucky.
I imagine that the same is true if someone is caught by US CBP. It would be very difficult for someone to claim they were ignorant of the regulations. If nothing else, the hassle of dealing with them would turn any gambling on the odds of being caught into a losing bet.
-------------- "This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
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