Schuerman Mountain Trail in Sedona traverses the mesa top of its name sake, Schuerman Mountain. One way to reach the trail is via the Lime Kiln trail, which junctions with Schuerman Mountain trail. The Lime Kiln is unique in that it spans all the way from Sedona to Cottonwood, beginning at Red Rock State Park. From there, the trail meanders in a general north-westerly direction across some very rugged country across Coconino National Forest Lands, to its end at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona.
There are several trail access points along the Lime Kiln trail and our access is the first crossing on Lower Red Rock Loop Rd. This part of the Lime Kiln trail has phenomenal panoramic views, all the way to the top of Mingus Mt to the southwest, northwest to Sycamore Canyon, Bear Mountain in Secret Canyon Wilderness Area to the north and beyond to the Mogollon Rim near Flagstaff, Arizona.
The trailhead is just a couple of miles from our home in the small quaint community of Elmerville, previously known as Jackass Flats, which many of the locals prefer.
Today, we are doing just a short section of Lime Kiln to get to the Schuerman Trail. The trail begins with a series of moderately steep switchbacks through a beautiful high sierra vegetation.
As you begin to top out on the saddle where the two trails meet, the spectacular eastern side rock formations of Sedona begin to come in to view.
We take the Schuerman trail north, following the ridgeline to higher ground, in search of more of those panoramic views which become more dramatic and panoramic, the higher we climb.
There are a few side trails that take you out to volcanic outcroppings of rock that offer amazing views of Cathedral Rock and the Red Rock Loop area. This vantage point has the best view I have seen of the Rabbit Ears, which are seen here above the saddle to the right of Cathedral Rock.
Schuerman Mountain is a sweet place and the views are not the only draw. The mesa is a vast and beautiful grassland atop volcanic rock. In the winter time, the grasses are dormant, as shown here, yet these grasses show in true four season living color throughout the year.
Many transitional high sierra plants thrive here along with the native grasses, such as prickly pear, yucca, and the juniper tree. A predominant plant is the yucca. Large stands of yucca are abundant atop the mesa. This particular variety tends to grow in a clumping pattern, spreading out in a circular fashion.
There are large prickly pear cactus forests here, a favorite of the Javelina. Not long ago we saw a family of Javalina on this mesa, counting at least 12 individuals, large to small.
This Juniper appears to be affected by the Mistletoe, a parasitic plant which lives off of trees in the area. If left unchecked, eventually Mistletoe will kill the host tree which sustains it. Let this be a lesson to mankind!
The dominate resident of the area seems to be the ants. These curious circle mounds that denude the vegetation around them are everywhere up here on Schuerman Mountain. Does anyone out there know what ant species make these hills?
The Schuerman trailhead starts behind the Sedona High School off Upper Red Rock Loop Rd and ends at the junction of the Lime Kiln, where we started.
Article & photo’s by Lisa Whitehead