Texas Highway 87
Most visitors to High Island head for the four wooded Houston Audubon Society bird sanctuaries that are virtually synonymous with this small community on the upper coast. But just as irresistible is the area’s deserted seashore, so I took a beach drive, following the sandy tracks that parallel what’s left of the twenty-mile stretch of Texas Highway 87 that once ran east of High Island. Hurricanes and erosion have transformed this length of once perfectly good road into a surreal line of asphalt boulders littering the hard-packed sand. After the first three miles, I was the only traffic. I’d heard that somewhere along this solitary path was one of Texas’s few nude beaches, but it was a blustery, cool day, and there were no so-called naturists in sight. After seven miles, I reached a barbed-wire fence that forced me to take a hard right onto the soft sand. If you have high-clearance four-wheel drive and the luck of the tides, you can go all the way to Sea Rim State Park, but I didn’t feel like tempting fate. I parked, got out, and walked the shore, discovering a bounty of green sea glass and whelk shells. Waves lapped the remnants of highway, and grasses grew triumphantly over the man-made gravel. It was rough and beautiful, a bracing reminder that nature bats last.
To get there: High Island is about 19 miles south of Winnie on Texas Highway 124. Start this drive beyond the yellow caution signs where Highway 124 meets Texas Highway 87. The tracks are manageable in a standard sedan or two-wheel drive for about 7 miles. There are no services.